We want more success - Academy coach

BALLYMENA Academy won't rest on their laurels after a first Northern Bank Schools' Cup final success for almost three decades.

That was the vow of coach John Andrews, who has already begun to plan the defence of the coveted trophy, won last week with a 10-7 success over Belfast Royal Academy.

"The great things is that no-one wants to sit back - they want more success," Andrews told Times Sport.

"I was taking the under-14s the day after the final and they want to go on and emulate the senior team so it has had a big knock-on effect on rugby throughout the school.

"The players that are still here next year will know what they have to do when they take the pitch - they now know what it takes to reach a Schools' Cup final and win it and they want more of it.

"This generation has shown that is is possible for a school like Ballymena Academy to compete with the big Belfast schools who have dominated the competition for the last 20 or 30 years.

"It's a huge achievement not only for rugby in the school but also for the sport in the borough - the entire rugby community really got behind us in the run-up to the final.

"We had a breakfast on the morning afterwards, which was hosted by Montgomery's, and you could just see the smiles on the faces of the boys as they met up with their team-mates - it was maybe only beginning to dawn on them at that stage what they had achieved.

"It's great for the profile of the school and the boys themselves and it's also nice for the teachers and coaches in the school who have coached this group of boys since first year and as they made their way up through the school," added John.

Nine of the side which started the cup final should still be available next season – including cup final points scorers Caleb Morrison and Callum Patterson – and Ballymena will start among the favourites for next year's title.

Don't miss our four-page coverage of the final and subsequent celebrations in this week's Ballymena Times.