Our Lady and St Patrick’s College, Knock, played their first competitive Ulster Schools fixture on Wednesday afternoon at Antrim Grammar in an Ulster Schools Bowl Qualifying Group Match.
As part of the new mix for the Ulster Schools Cup OLSP, Antrim Grammar, Wellington College and Carrickfergus Grammar will play a round robin competition to determine their entry level for the subsidiary schools competitions, yesterday’s match being the first of the series.
The schools competition newcomers OLSP stole a march on the competition by recording a 17 – 22 win at Antrim Grammar in an entertaining if somewhat damp match.
The match had just started on our arrival and the teams were largely testing each other out in a fairly error strewn first ten minutes, both teams overreaching in an attempt to lay down a marker.
The visitors got their act together 15 minutes in with winger Finn Rogers finding the line out wide to open the scoring. The out half knocked over a delightful conversion from the touch line with such aplomb that I took a second glance and realised that it was none other than Thomas McDevitt who we’d covered over the summer in his matches for Ulster U18 Club,
McDevitt’s influence gave OLSP a bit of direction and they were on top for most of the second quarter and took a 12 – 0 lead when Jamie McConville slid in on the left for their second try.
Antrim looked to their big pack for a response and they found it just before the break with Jack Maguire claiming the try after a period of pressure on the visitors try line. The try went unconverted and the teams changed ends with Antrim trailing 5 -12.
OLSP squandered a couple of guilt edge chances at the start of the second half and were somewhat fortunate to get their next score. A speculative grubber looked to be comfortably dealt with until a slip allowed the chasing McConville to dive on the ball for his second score. McDevitt converted to open up a 5 – 19 lead.
However, Antrim came storming back within minutes and could have been awarded a penalty try for a high tackle. As it was, a botched clearance by OLSP allowed Adam Carville to drop on the ball beside the posts for their second score. Ross Mackay added the conversion and it was game on at 12 – 19.
Antrim continued to press and they set up a nervy finale with Ryan Armstrong coming up with the ball at the bottom on a pile up on the OLSP line to take the score to 17 – 19 with about five minutes remaining.
The visitors kept their composure and forced Antrim to attack from deep, one occasion coughing up a penalty for OLSP which McDevitt converted to give the visitors their historic 17 – 22 win.