Academy 1st XV through to Schools’ Cup Quarter Final

Banbridge Academy advance into the quarter-finals of the Ulster Schools’ Cup for the first time in 12 years after a fine 40-0 win against Portadown College at the College’s school pitches on Saturday 27th February.


On a pleasant, but breezy morning, the Academy played the first half with the light wind at their back. Portadown had the better of the early exchanges but the Banbridge defence dealt comfortably with whatever was thrown at them. 18 minutes into the game, some sustained pressure from the powerful Banbridge forward pack led to a great attacking opportunity and the ball was moved quickly to the left wing where Darragh Knox scored an excellent try. Outhalf Andrew Jackson was just wide with the difficult conversion. Shortly after on 24 minutes Irish Schools’ Hooker Connor Magee powered over in the corner to score a fine try. Jackson was successful with this difficult conversion. On 32 minutes, Connor Magee scored the second of his tries when he executed an excellent line break and again crossed the line, this time under the post, to score. Jackson was once again successful with the conversion. Just minutes later Magee completed his hat-trick when he made a midfield break and showed excellent pace to outstrip the cover and score under the posts; Jackson again made the conversion as the Referee blew for halftime.


With the score of 26-0 at halftime, the Academy were in a commanding position and knew that a strong start to the second half would go a long way to sealing the victory. Five minutes into the second half, Banbridge ran an excellent attacking play off a scrum and scrum-half Fergus Alway, ran around the cover and beat the last defender to score under the posts; a fantastic individual effort. Jackson once again slotted the extras to take the score to 33-0. 10 minutes later, Captain Daniel Hutchinson eluded the defence and powered over to score and Jackson once again converted. On 55 minutes, Connor Magee scored his fourth try, a remarkable feat in any game, never mind in a Schools’ Cup last 16 game. A powerful mall from the Academy drove over the College line and Magee dotted down for the score. Jackson was just wide with this conversion attempt. The final score of the game came in 65th minute when substitute Nazie Mulligan completed an excellent back play by rounding his winger and scoring in the corner. The conversion attempt was just wide.


Overall, the game was a very impressive performance from a very talented group of players. The forward pack showed power and precision throughout the game, and the excellent back line penetrated the Portadown defensive line on numerous occasions. It is an outstanding achievement in it’s own right for the Academy to get to this stage of the Schools’ Cup and all the more impressive to then put in one of the best performances of the season.


With this result the Academy now move on to the quarter-finals of the Schools’ Cup and have been drawn at home to current cupholders RBAI. This next game is sure to be a fantastic occasion with a massive crowd from both home support and the travelling RBAI fans. The Academy side will go into this game as massive underdogs, but the team have developed confidence and produced assured performances throughout the year and will certainly believe if they can perform on the day they are capable of creating a massive cup upset. The game will be played on Saturday the 10th of February and kick-off will be 10.30 or 11.00 am.  Home support will be greatly appreciated by the team.