On Wednesday 10 January, at City of Derry RFC, Sperrin Integrated College 1st XV won their first Under 18 High Schools Cup Final, beating Carndonagh Community School. A well-disciplined and clinical performance from the Magherafelt boys ensured a convincing 36-0 victory and saw them become Ulster Champions and school history makers.
Sperrin started the game brightly and were soon into their stride with big carries from David Evans, Jack Stewart-Williams, Jack Leacock and Charlie Clarke. Carndonagh were struggling to cope with the intensity and tempo of the Sperrin game and inevitably spaces began to open in their defence. Sperrin didn’t need a second invitation and after some excellent work in the scrum Charlie Clarke burst over in the corner for an unconverted try. This settled the nerves, but from the kick off Carndonagh applied huge pressure after a Sperrin handling error. However, the Sperrin defence, led heroically by Marc Feathers, was a match for anything the Donegal side could produce.
With Cameron Young and Nathan Jeffers controlling proceedings, Sperrin had soon worked themselves into another promising position. This time Jack Leacock took advantage of the hard yards being made by the Sperrin pack as he squeezed over for a well-deserved try which was converted expertly by Thomas McKitterick.
With confidence high, Sperrin pushed on and soon found themselves under Cardonagh’s posts, again thanks to a superb solo try by Ulster player, and Man of the Match Charlie Clarke. From a scrum on the half way, Clarke displayed some neat footwork and a strong fend before showing the covering full back a clean pair of heels as he dived under the posts. McKitterick again added the extras.
Although Sperrin’s dominance had come largely through their pack, the backs were not to be out done with strong carries by Eoin McDonald and the impressive Feathers. However, it was from a set piece move that the next Sperrin score was to come. After neat interplay between Jeffers and McDonald, the former then released his outside backs with Adam Moore showing his predatory instincts to finish expertly in the corner. Although the conversion was narrowly missed, the backs weren’t finished yet. From a powerful scrum inside the Carndonagh half, the backline launched another set play. After expert vision from Jeffers, McKitterick rounded the covering defence to bring the score to 29-0 at Half Time.
The second half began with Sperrin under pressure as Carndonagh came out of the blocks quickly. Although they dominated possession and territory they were unable to break down a well organised and aggressive Sperrin defence. Sperrin’s hard work in defence was to be rewarded with a fine break away try that was finished expertly by the ever present Jack Stewart-Williams. Thomas McKitterick converted from the touchline. Although this was to be the last score of the match, Sperrin did threaten to add further gloss to the score line only to be let down by the final pass.
This win, adds to the recent success Sperrin have enjoyed in Gaelic football. This year the Gaelic team won the Ulster Oisin McGrath Cup.
Dominic Lynn, HOD feels that the recent surge in silverware at Ulster Level is a result of the approach taken to sport in general within Sperrin
“The contribution of sport to health and well-being is well documented. The beauty of our school is that we try to find the sport that appeals to each individual child so that they can develop a long term healthy attitude towards exercise.
We offer a range of individual and team sporting activities such as Gaelic Football, Rugby, Camogie, Hockey, Soccer, Basketball, Volleyball, Badminton, Table Tennis, Athletics, Gynmnastics, Dance, and Boxing. Most of our pupils will have participated in all of these sports within their school life.
The skills learnt from all of these sports are very transferable, and the pupils thrive on having such a wide choice. I find, for example, that the skills required to play games such as Gaelic Football and Rugby complement each other greatly. Tommy Bowe has played Rugby for Ireland, and Gaelic Football from U10 level right up for his club Emyvale. He has also played Gaelic Football for Monaghan up to minor level. We have players on this Rugby squad who play club Gaelic football for Rossa’s and Castledawson. One of our lads plays for Ballymena United and is on the Antrim Gaelic Football Development Squad.
I strongly believe that the recent county and Ulster success (in Gaelic, Rugby, Camogie and Hockey) is as a direct result of pupils contributing to all that we have to offer in Sperrin. I would encourage all parents to drop in to our open evening on Wednesday 24th January to have a look around for themselves and see the fantastic facilities and opportunities available for their children”
Sperrin’s quest for more silverware continues with the Under 14s and Under 16s in their respective competitions.
Click here for a list of integrated schools in Northern Ireland.
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