Sports

Within touching distance

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Within touching distance thumbnailArmagh centre Charlie Worth will hope to create history this weekend against Bangor GS.

ROYAL School Armagh Medallion will hope to create a little piece of history on Saturday morning (10.30am) as they face Bangor Grammar for a place in the final of the prestigious Medallion Shield competition for the first time.

The team, who are coached by Gareth Beggs and Simon Cardwell, knocked out tournament favourites Wallace High School 7-5 in the quarter-finals and this weekend they travel to the Queen's University Playing Fields to take on a talented Bangor side in the semi-finals.

Beggs, who looks after the back-line, said it was a game to remember for his U15 side.

“Wallace had beaten us comprehensively earlier on in the season and we went in to the game with two chains of thought.

“Firstly we knew Wallace were a good side, but secondly we knew that we couldn't have played any worse than we did earlier on in the season.

“It was 0-0 at half-time and we knew that the longer we stayed in the game, the more doubt would creep in to their heads and yes we left it late to score with about three minutes remaining, but it was just in time!"

Beggs admitted that the Medallion class of 2017 is a special group and he paid tribute to the players for all their efforts this season.

“In a school our size we know it is very hard to compete in single year groups.

“We have known now for about three years that this was a talented bunch. The boys have trained and played well all year and we have had some great results against some of the big Belfast schools.

“The boys are all very hard working and that work to date has paid off."

Bangor have claimed the scalp of RBAI in the competition thus far and Beggs said they know it is going to be a tough game, but was positive and optimistic of their chances of claiming a place in the prestigious final.

“It is going to be very difficult to judge how we are going to play against a team that we played a way back in September and we haven't really seen or found out much about them since.

“We will concentrate on what we are going to do and if we perform well and perform at our best possible level and the occasion doesn't get to us then we would be positive and optimistic about our chances.

“We can't forget that they are still schoolboys and it is going to be about who turns up on the day and deals with the pressure and makes the fewest errors

“The Arena pitch at Queen's is a great surface and it is a great facility and it should be a good occasion and we are all looking forward to a good day out!"

Simon Cardwell, who is responsible for the pack, said that there has been plenty of discussion about the absence of the big Belfast sides in the final four, but said that the four teams left in the hat are all there on merit.

“On reputation you look at the big Belfast teams and expect them to win it, but the likes of Bangor, Friends' and ourselves have all had very good seasons.

“Bangor defeated RBAI, Friends' defeated Methody and we put out Wallace and it really is great to see so many schools from outside of the city in with a shout of winning it."

Cardwell says everything is to play for on Saturday and he hopes the boys can enjoy and indeed excel on the day.

“Bangor have beaten all of the top teams at this age group home and away, so they will be confident against us.

“They are coached by a former RSA pupil and they will know all about us and our ethos and they will be very excited for the game.

“For our boys it is fantastic to have the experience of playing in a semi-final and hopefully it is something they enjoy and excel at."

Cardwell said that is a special group and he has urged them to go out there and create history and claim a place in the final.

“We have 45 boys in Year 11 and 32 of them play rugby, which is pretty unique.

“They are putting expectations on themselves, but as coaches we can't forget that they are still boys, they aren't mini-professionals and we want them to enjoy the occasion and play like it is just another game of rugby.

“Working so hard and being pushed right to the end like we were against Wallace will give them lots of confidence.

“They won't underestimate Bangor and they know that the carrot is a big day out at the Kingspan Stadium and it is every schoolboys' dream to get the chance to play there."

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