REPORT & PICS: McGaffin leads Academy to Trophy triumph!

Banbridge Academy's Michael McGaffin shows off the Trophy along with Andy Donaldson, Danske Bank Mallusk Branch manager
Banbridge Academy's Michael McGaffin shows off the Trophy along with Andy Donaldson, Danske Bank Mallusk Branch manager

Captain Michael McGaffin led by example with the score of the game as Banbridge Academy cruised to Trophy triumph.

They earned a 15-0 success over Belfast High School to win the Danske Bank Schools’ Trophy at BRA’s Roughfort pitches on Wednesday, Troy Pinion with the other try while Ben Thompson kicked five points.

Banbridge Academy's Michael McGaffin collects the Schools' Trophy from Andy Donaldson, Danske Bank Mallusk Branch manager and Stephen Hilditch. Pics: Matt Mackey / Presseye

Banbridge Academy's Michael McGaffin collects the Schools' Trophy from Andy Donaldson, Danske Bank Mallusk Branch manager and Stephen Hilditch. Pics: Matt Mackey / Presseye

Bann started slowly but eventually settled into their rhythm and spurned the first opportunity to score when Ben Thompson struck a penalty wide.

Just three minutes later though a flowing backline moved resulted in full-back Ben Russell making a fine line break and linking with wing Troy Pinion who crossed the line for the opening score.

Thompson was on target with the conversion and put Banbridge out to a 7-0 lead.

The Academy saw that lead out to the break - but only just as Belfast hit the post with a penalty and then piled on the pressure.

Party time!  Banbridge Academy celebrate their win.

Party time! Banbridge Academy celebrate their win.

Shortly after the restart, Bann got their second try. Their territorial dominance led to a great lineout steal from flanker Jonny McIntosh on 40 minutes.

He popped the pilfered ball to scrum half Jordan Mount who set his backline off on the counter. After three good wide passes, Captain and wing Michael McGaffin received the ball, fended off his opposite number, and then outpaced the cover to score in the corner.

It was a well taken try that really put the Academy in the driving seat. Thompson was unsuccessful with the difficult conversion but the 13-0 advantage was a great fillip for the Banbridge team.

To the High School’s credit they then produced their best rugby of the day and only dogged defence from the Academy kept them out. On 55 minutes, Banbridge centre Ross Cartmill read a long pass and intercepted to go some 80 metres before being brought down just short of the posts.

Jordan tries to Mount an attack for the Academy.

Jordan tries to Mount an attack for the Academy.

In the ensuring ruck High School infringed and Thompson slotted the simple but pressurised kick to give Banbridge a 15-0 lead and the cushion they had so greatly been craving.

The final 15 minutes saw Belfast High go all out in attack but once again the outstanding Banbridge defence kept them at bay and the Academy saw out the rest of the game to claim the trophy.

Belfast High should be very proud of their efforts and their team’s attitude during and after the game should be commended.

In the trophy presentation ceremony, Banbridge Academy Captain Michael McGaffin lifted the cup to the delight of the assembled supporters and to the cheers of his team-mates.

Belfast High's Ryan Gibson in action with Banbridge Academy's Michael McGaffin. Photo: Presseye

Belfast High's Ryan Gibson in action with Banbridge Academy's Michael McGaffin. Photo: Presseye

It was an excellent way to end the season for an Academy side that had been tested throughout the year, through both results and injuries, but whose hard work and dedication ultimately brought reward.

Belfast High's Patrick McClenaghan tries to stop Banbridge Academy's Peter Heaney. Photo: Presseye

Belfast High's Patrick McClenaghan tries to stop Banbridge Academy's Peter Heaney. Photo: Presseye