THE frosty conditions meant unfortunately the Academy U14 and U15 sides lost out on facing Wallace at Havelock this morning.
The boys did, however, play Lurgan College First XI late yesterday afternoon so at least game time was had by all.
This game ended 2-2 with some good play from both teams on display, a worthwhile and beneficial experience for all involved.
Friday also saw the U12 squad face Kilkeel HS for an afternoon showdown and with 23 players being used the game showed signs of promise.
The unit started brightly with Barlow, Lockhart, Campbell and Farson all creating chances. The defence was carefully lead by Ryan Simms and his initial pass to Barlow saw his reverse stick shot parried by the Kilkeel keeper. The resulting rebound was sharply trapped by Lockhart who deftly laid it off to Campbell who grabbed another goal with a fine celebration!
The introduction of Tom Flannaghan added speed and flair on the left and he was unlucky on several occasions not to notch himself a goal. The Kilkeel side played direct hockey and it took Jacob Sommerville to be alert throughout with some good clearances and solid positional awareness.
The 12s will have enjoyed the challenge and a win will help confidence as several games in the run into Christmas will undoubtedly see a settled side emerge.
Meanwhile the Senior Second XI faced Wallace HS First XI at Comber Road in their last game of the McCullough Cup and took a tremendous point with only 11 players available due to injury and the upcoming Interprovincials.
The locals almost sneaked the win too when Robert Scott saw his effort palmed away by the Lisburn keeper with moments remaining in the first half.
The Academy seniors did all that was demanded of them and Wallace chucked the kitchen sink for large parts of the second half but a mixture of true spirit and excellent defending kept the game at 0-0.
Justin Glass had a superb game with astute calling and polished kicking matched by several neat saves from close in. The rearguard of Johnny Gregson and Rowe kept cool under pressure and decisions made this morning showed progress from all involved. Huge credit must go to the guys who showed up and played the shirt of their backs.
The U13 boys came from a goal behind to secure a positive 3-1 win over Friends School Lisburn this afternoon. The game played on Academy Hill saw some indecisive defending early on with the Friends forward slipping the ball into an empty goal to take the lead in the 12th minute.
Coach Jess made some quick changes and the in form Alex Donnelly levelled matters in 15th minute after some neat play from Mark McCullough, Aaron Wheeler and Jay Brackenburry.
The second half saw a vast improvement from the Academy and Joel Reid scored from close in from the schools sixth short corner to take the lead just five minutes into the second half.
This signalled all out attack and Donnelly made it 3-1 when he punched in a low sweep after some slick play involving Billy Campbell, Charlie Norris and Marcus Murdock. There was yet more opportunity to extend the lead but Patrick McNiff and Callum Gibson saw their shots well saved by the Lisburn keeper.
Big games loom ahead - This week will see five Academy boys representing Ulster with three at U16 level and two at U18.
The Interprovincial tournament should give David McCracken and Jonny McKee a chance to display their talents against the best players in Leinter and Munster while Matthew Hurst, Timothy Watt and Sam Farson will enjoy debuts for Ulster under Coach Scott McCandless.
The school would like to wish these players and indeed Scott the very best of play and with such a demanding lead up to an interprovincial tournament we have every faith that the title will come home.
Once this event is over the Academy coaching staff and Senior squad will give their undivided attention to the play off in the McCullough Cup were they face RBAI.
The locals gave themselves this opportunity after superb wins away at Campbell and taking care of Kilkeel and Methody too. This showdown will take place at a neutral venue and the branch have complete control with the umpires and TD being provided at Comber Road on Wednesday November 28 at 2.30pm.
The Academy will hope to bring a small travelling support but all fans are urged to pen the date as this young side continues its efforts at getting to semi-final stages in this important Cup.
The school’s thanks as always goes to Senior sponsors The Belmont Hotel and NFU Mutual, Banbridge.