Methodist College Belfast are the 2019 Danske Bank Ulster Schools Senior Cup champions after a 45-17 win over Campbell College at Kingspan Stadium this afternoon.
The win moves Methody onto 36 outright titles in the Schools Cup roll of honour. It was a thrilling occasion for fans and neutrals alike at the home of Ulster Rugby. Irish Rugby TV were there to sample the atmosphere, which you can see in the below video.
2019 DANSKE BANK ULSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUP FINAL: Monday, March 18
CAMPBELL COLLEGE 17 METHODIST COLLEGE BELFAST 45, Kingspan Stadium
Scorers: Campbell College: Tries: Harry Jackson, Dara Gaskin; Cons: Conor Rankin 2; Pen: Conor Rankin
Methodist College Belfast: Tries: Ben Gourley, Max Lyttle, Thomas Armstrong 2, Callum Davidson, David Boden, Tim Millar; Cons: Ethan McIlroy 5
HT: Campbell College 10 Methodist College Belfast 21
Methody, who were last champions in 2014, got off to a bright start with lock Ben Gourley powering over from close range on 11 minutes, with Ethan McIlroy adding the conversion. Last year’s winners Campbell responded six minutes later when hooker Harry Jackson was at the bottom of the pile after a lineout maul had crashed over.
Full-back Conor Rankin stepped up to knock over a confidently-struck conversion and then put Campbell into the lead with a 20th-minute penalty, punishing his opposite number McIlroy for a tip tackle which earned him a yellow card.
However, with 31 minutes on the clock, Gourley’s second row partner Max Lyttle charged over for another converted try for Methody. They took a 21-10 lead into the break as, just five minutes later, influential out-half Thomas Armstrong ran in a superb effort under the posts.
Five minutes after the restart, scrum half Callum Davidson dived over in the corner to extend the Methody lead. The pace continued to quicken as Davidson’s opposite number Dara Gaskin sniped over from close range just three minutes later for Campbell, who were more than playing their part in a fantastic contest.
The gap was down to 26-17 at that stage, but Methody ran in three more tries during the final 12 minutes to put the result beyond doubt. Firstly, flanker David Boden profited from a short lineout to score in the left corner, then replacement Tim Millar got over the whitewash shortly after his introduction. The last try of the day was another outstanding finish from Armstrong, with McIlroy converting the last two.
CAMPBELL COLLEGE: Conor Rankin; Kieran Harkness-Robertson, Rex Tinsley (capt), Harry Owens, Danny Williamson; Ollie Ralston, Dara Gaskin; John Gildea, Harry Jackson, Patrick McAlpine, Kyle Gill, Jack Stinson, James Johnston, Ben Rainey, Tobi Olaniyan.
Replacements: Jack Boal, Luke Collins, Matthew Poor, Connor McCauley, Jamie Brennan, Harry Bell, Finlay Parks, Hugh Minford.
METHODIST COLLEGE BELFAST: Ethan McIlroy; Tom O’Doherty, Robbie Armstrong, John Fletcher, Chris Larmour; Thomas Armstrong, Callum Davidson; Ben Crangle, Daniel Humphreys, Matthew Hunter, Max Lyttle, Ben Gourley, David Boden, Adam Reid, Kevin McNaboe (capt).
Replacements: Jack Watson, Patrick Johnston, Dan Dougan, Adam Simms, Tom Millar, Luke Simms, Luke Graham, Louis Millar.
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ulster)