CAI bring the curtain down with quarter final win over Omagh

Coleraine Academical Institution defeated Omagh Academy in a Schools’ Cup tie that marked the end of an era at Coleraine AI.

Coleraine Academical Institution are through to the semi-finals. Picture by Darren Kidd

It was their last home game in the 140 year history of the competition before the merger with Coleraine High School.

As well as enjoying multiple victories in the competition, many future internationals learned their skills at Coleraine Inst, including Ulster and Ireland stars, Andrew Trimble and Jonathan Bell.

Dr David Carruthers, Principal Designate for Coleraine Grammar School, said: “A quarter final game in the Schools’ Cup is always an exciting time for the whole school, but this year it has added significance as it marks the final stages of a long and proud history for Coleraine Academical Institution in the competition, representing the last home game to be played under the Coleraine Inst name.

“Whilst this is the end of an era it is also the start of an exciting new chapter for children entering post-primary education in the Coleraine area and we look forward to starting a new history in the Schools’ Cup competition under the banner of Coleraine Grammar School, beginning in September this year.”

Coleraine started well in front of an enthusiastic group of supporters and took a 3-0 lead when Omagh infringed. Callum Smith stepped up and confidently converted the penalty kick after three minutes.

Six minutes later Coleraine extended their lead when Daniel McAllister powered his way over from short range. Smith converted for a 10-0 lead and it proved crucial.

Omagh - trying to repeat the class of 1985’s feat in reaching a semi-final -recovered from the early setbacks and Stuart Ballentine was successful with a penalty kick to open their account.

Coleraine did score another unconverted try but Ballentine kept the Tyrone men in it with two more penalties leaving them trailing 15-9 at the break.

Omagh started strongly in the second half and went on to control possession and territory for long periods of time.

Matthew Clyde, James Longwell and Ethan McKeown impressed with their ball carrying ability and asked questions of the Coleraine team.

Luke Hanson, Dean Kane and Adam Stephenson caused problems for the hosts and might consider themselves unfortunate not to have scored at least one try.

They had opportunities to reduce the arrears even further but two penalty chances, in the 40th and 46th minutes, were missed.

In spite of losing a player to the sin-bin, in the final minutes of the game, it was Coleraine who finished the stronger of the two teams.

With little time remaining, and having weathered a number of Omagh Academy attacks, the Coleraine team laid siege to the Academy line.

Coleraine pack eventually wore down the visiting defence and Alastair Corbett rounded off some good work by his forwards when he scored a try with the last play of the game.

Smith added the conversion to secure a flattering 22-9 win for Coleraine.

Meanwhile, the semi-final draw has ensured the two fancied challengers will not meet in the showpiece final on St Patrick’s Day.

Cup holders, Methodist College, Belfast, who are bidding for a fouth successive outright title, will meet favourites Wallace High School, Lisburn, in the second of the semi-final ties.

That game will be played on Thursday, March 5, at the Kingspan Stadium.

The first semi-final will feature Coleraine Academical Institution against Royal Belfast Academical Institution at the home of Ulster Rugby two days earlier, Tuesday, March 3. Kick-off times in both semis are to be confirmed.

The draw was made by Terry O’ Doherty, (Danske Bank) and Chris Webster, Domestic Rugby Manager Ulster Rugby.