Banbridge Academy’s 1st XV booked their place in the Schools’ Trophy final with a deserved 24-12 victory over Foyle College in the Danske Bank Ulster Schools’ Trophy semi-final held at Lurgan Road.
With the Academy team dominating proceedings from early in the game they opened their account when 2nd Row Alex Shannon scored a try, which Out Half Tom Flanagan converted, to take a 7-0 lead with just nine minutes on the clock. This became 14-0, close to the break, when industrious Prop Stuart Totten touched down for a try after some great work by the pack to drive them close to the line. Once again Tom Flanagan added the extras.
Tom Flanagan then added a penalty in the opening stages of the second half to see his Banbridge team into a 17-0 lead. Andrew Elliott, Adam Hanna and Timmy Beattie impressed with their performances during the game and they were all to the fore as the Academy exerted pressure on the Foyle side to try to kill the game. The decisive moment came when Scrum Half Chris Patterson pounced on an overthrow from a Foyle lineout and jinked his way 40 metres and over the line. The impeccable Tom Flanagan converted to give the Banbridge Academy team an unassailable 24-0 lead with just 15 minutes remaining.
The Foyle College team got some reward for their endeavours when Andy Miller and Keelin Coyle scored tries, one of which was converted by Keelin, but it was too little too late as the Academy comfortably saw out the remaining minutes to clinch a third successive Schools’ Trophy Final appearance.
While it was a dominant performance from the Academy team it was still one that required an immense amount of effort to beat a strong and committed Foyle side who battled literally to the last minute. The Academy boys should be applauded for their application to a tough job and now get to enjoy another Final as reward for this effort.
The final is provisionally booked for Wednesday 21 February at Friends’ School, Lisburn. KO time and venue are yet to be fully confirmed.