Academy coach Ross Hunter
OMAGH Academy coach Ross Hunter insists his players will have to pull out all the stops this Saturday morning if they are to reach the last eight of the Danske Bank Schools’ Cup.
For the first time ever the Academy have been seeded in the top eight however that proved to be no real advantage when paired away to Wallace High School in the last -16 draw.
Wallace are considered among the favourites to win this year’s competition and earlier in the season defeated Omagh 31-7 in Lisburn.
Despite the odds being stacked against his team, Hunter believes his charges are capable of pulling off a shock result.
“When they beat us early in the season we had an off day,” he insisted.
“Everything that could have gone wrong did go wrong. Our setpiece just didn’t function. We didn’t play well, all round we were pretty poor.
“Wallace have been going well this season but so have we, for the majority of it. That was reflected in us being seeded in the top eight.
“Granted we will have to be at our best on Saturday but I feel there are areas we can exploit and attack.
“We are going to have to play to our potential and, if we do, then we have a chance and can compete.”
Hunter rates his current first XV as the best he has worked with since taking up employment at the Dublin Road seat of learning and that has been reflected in their results so far.
Omagh have won 11 of their 15 matches to date and scored nearly 300 points in the process.
Their captain and vice-captain is the backrow pair of is James Longwell and Nathan Sides respectively while team-mates Taine Lagan, Glenn McKinley, Jake McCay and Robbie Sproule are members of the Ulster U17 squad.
“It’s a very mature team with 11 players in upper sixth,” continued the coach
“We have a good side and if we click on the day then we are in with a shout.
“When our lineout and scrum functions well we play well. It’s important we compete up front and if they do that then we can playing running rugby.
“We have played quite an expansive game this season but on Saturday we’ll be looking to mix it up a bit.”
Wingers Ryan Gibson and Gary McIlwaine have been ruled out with injury. Kick-off 11pm
Matthew Hill; Gary McCrossan; Glenn McKinley; Nathan KIlfedder; Jordan Brolly; Matthew Bell; Jake McCay; Robbie Sproule; Ben Henderson; Neil Logan; Nathan Sides (vice-captain); James Longwell (captain); Troy Booth; Danny Ritchie; Kyle Beattie; Scott Ballantine; Deane Kane; Fintan Lagan; Oisin Shiels; Oscar Nelson; Ryan Gibson; Taine Lagan; Finn Small.
Posted: 7:30 pm February 3, 2017
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