THE first XI completed the first three games in their McCullough Cup program in the space of a week.
The first game against Sullivan Upper took place at Havelock Park on Saturday 15 September. An injury and a withdrawal in the Academy squad meant that the work done in preseason to establish a system and pattern of play had to be amended and with Sullivan boasting a strong side this promised to be a tricky fixture.
The Academy side were slow to start and went a goal down after five minutes. The away side increased their lead in the 20th minute before Johnny McKee pulled one back for the Academy. Sloppy play in midfield led to a Sullivan third just before the half-time break.
In the second-half, with just over 10 minutes gone, Johnny McKee doubled his personally tally in the game to bring the score line to 3-2 in the visitor’s favour.
However, a yellow card for Ben Knox followed shortly afterwards with a yellow card for Rory Woods effectively ended any opportunity the home side had of pushing forward in an organised way for the equaliser.
As time ran out and the ten-man Academy side pushed for that elusive equaliser they were hit on the counter-attack and conceded a fourth goal.
On Monday 17 September, the First XI welcomed Royal and Prior, Raphoe to the school astro for the second group game in the McCullough Cup.
In a largely one-sided contest the Academy team ran out 9-0 winners.
Most of the damage was done in the second-half when the home side scored seven goals without reply.
In the first-half, Rory Woods opened the scoring and Clarke Neville doubled the lead from a short corner.
In the second-half Rory Woods helped himself to the next four goals bringing the score line to 6-0 and his personally tally to five before Camin McCluskey, Matthew Warnock and John McCague completed the scoring.
The third game played on Saturday 22 September at Shaw’s Bridge against RBAI was a keenly contested encounter. With Captain Thomas Sturgeon also missing as a result of a virus, the Academy ranks were bolstered with the addition of Tim Watt and Matthew Hurst. Despite squandering several good chances the Academy found themselves a goal behind midway through the first half. Some poor defending allowed RBAI to attack down their right flank and when Peter Bingham made the initial save the RBAI forwards were quickest to react as the Academy defenders watched them put the ball in the net. The score line stayed this way until seven minutes from the end of the second-half when a Johnny McKee goal brought the Academy back on level terms. Despite pressing really hard for the remaining minutes the Academy players could not make their possession pay and when the final whistle sounded they were left wondering what might have been.
With a win, a draw and a defeat in their opening three group games, the 1st XI must look to take maximum points from their remains three fixtures against Kilkeel, Methody and Campbell and hope that other results go in their favour if they are to have any chance of making the semi-finals.