BA Medallion Final

Banbridge Academy 24 – 21 Belfast High School


The Banbridge Academy Medallion XV made history by completing a remarkable treble for the school by winning an Ulster Branch final for the third year in a row. Having won the Medallion Bowl in 2021/22 and the Medallion Trophy in 2022/23, the class of 2023/24 completed the ‘3peat’ by retaining the Trophy against a determined Belfast HS side. The game took place at Friends’ School, Lisburn in front of a sizable crowd. The game itself took time to settle with both sides making unforced errors in the opening ten minutes. It was the Academy side who looked certain to score first only for a loose pass to end up in the hands of the High School centre, who sprinted in under the posts from his own half to leave the score 0-7. The Academy forwards began to carry well through captain Patrick McElroy and second row Conor Patton. After several phases out half Conor Comiskey fed full back Sam Leslie who sliced through the defence to score a crucial try out wide. Comiskey was unsuccessful with the difficult conversion leaving the Academy trailing 5-7. Centre Ethan Houston was beginning to assert his dominance in midfield and was duly rewarded when he bounced off two would be tacklers to reach out and touch down for the Academy’s second try of the afternoon. With another unsuccessful conversion the game was finely poised at 10-7. With halftime fast approaching both sides knew that the next score would be crucial and luckily it came in the form of a fantastic individual effort from flanker Syd Moore. He spotted a gap in the High School defence and left several defenders in his wake to touch down under the posts. Comiskey added the easy two to leave the halftime score 17-7. The Academy coaching duo of Charlie and Jemma Farrell knew that their side were going to have to work even harder in the second half to have any chance of keeping the resolute High School side at bay. The second half didn’t start too well with Academy openside Leo O’Neill receiving an unfortunate yellow card. High School now began to assert some dominance, but the Academy defence held firm until O’Neill returned to the fold. With ill-discipline at the breakdown costing both sides territory and possession it was High School who found a way to make it count by crossing for another converted score to make it 17-14. It looked as though they were then going to take the lead when their winger made a fantastic break down the touchline, only for fullback Leslie to make the all-important try saving tackle. This seemed to galvanise the Academy players and supporters and it was indeed Leslie who sliced through the defence once again for the match winning score, with Comiskey adding the extras. With the clock in the red High School responded by scoring their third converted try of the afternoon to leave the final score 24-21. Forwards coach Charlie Farrell was naturally delighted with the result and performance. “The players have worked incredibly hard all season and deserve this success. Credit to High School who fought right up until the final whistle and didn’t make things easy for us. We had to dig deep but once we went 24-14 up with a minute to go, we knew we had it all wrapped up.”

Squad: Sam Leslie, Harry Davidson, Theo Wan, Ethan Houston, Harry Purdy, Conor Comiskey (VC), Mathew Curry, Oliver Neill, Matthew Christie, Calum McMurray, Conor Patton, Josh Hine, Syd Moore, Leo O’Neill, Patrick McElroy (C), Conor McNamee, Sam Williamson, Joshia Rodgers, Ellis Humphries, Dawson Knox, Charlie Thom, Jack Lewis, Adam Boggs, Luke Wills, Charlie Geoghegan, Harry Steenson, Adam Freeburn, Dawin Widdis, Isaac Balfour