HOCKEY: Ulster teams go for All-Ireland glory

Celebration time for Banbridge Academy in 2015.
Celebration time for Banbridge Academy in 2015.

Eight Ulster teams will be chasing all-Ireland glory over the next three days as the province hosts the Crowne Plaza national schoolboys championship.

Sixteen schools from Ulster, Leinster and Munster will contest the tournament as they attempt to end the dominance enjoyed by their Leinster counterparts.

Dublin sides have been in the ascendancy in recent years and title holders St Andrew’s are bidding to win the prestigious Tasmanian Shield for the sixth time in the last seven attempts.

You have to go back to 2015 for the last local winner when Banbridge Academy beat Wesley College 3-2 in a thrilling final at Shaw’s Bridge.

This year, Bann have been drawn to face the team they beat in the decider three years ago, local rivals Bangor Grammar and Kilkenny College in the round robin phase.

Bann’s Rowe brothers, goalkeeper Scott Dale and vice captain Mark Barlow give them plenty of options around the park.

Wallace High will be expected to provide a stiff challenge for st Andrew’s in Group C after the Lisburn school scored 34 times in three qualifier games.

Fellow Ulster qualifiers RBAI - who have won the trophy a joint-record seven times- and Cork’s Ashton complete the group.

Sullivan Upper, one of the strongly tipped local sides, are up against Regent House, Newpark Comprehensive and High School in Group B.

McCullough Cup holders Sullivan are coached by Irish international Callum Robson, a recent graduate, and will have Harry Morris, Paddy Crookshanks and Patrick Rose among their leading lights. Group D includes Burney Cup holders Friends’ along with Methodist College, Newtown and Limerick’s Villiers.

The event runs from today until Friday with matches split across three south Belfast venues in Queen’s, Shaw’s Bridge and Deramore Park.

Today’s schedule: 13:45 Banbridge Academy v Bangor GS; 13:45 Sullivan Upper v Regent House;15:30 Newpark School v The High School; 15:30 Wesley College v Kilkenny College (all at Malone Playing Fields) 13:45 MCB v Friends; 15:30 Newtown v Villiers (Belfast Harlequins); 13:45 RBAI v Wallace HS;15:30 St Andrew’s College v Ashton School (Shaw’s Bridge)