THE Academy First XI made the trip to Deramore Park on Saturday morning to take on their Methodist College counterparts in the quarter-final of the Burney Cup.
From the hit-off it was clear that Methody were going to give everything to this match. The Academy had Timothy Watt deputising for the ill Clarke Neville at centre-back and it was an early pass from Watt down the right-hand side that instigated the first Academy attack. Rory Woods latched on to the searching pass from Watt and with a great turn of pace shrugged of his marker. However, Methody Captain Mark Willis was there to deal with the danger and his clearance brought a premature end to the first attack.
It was going to take a goal of real quality to break the deadlock and when it arrived the first goal was exquisite. After 12 minutes Academy right-back Andrew Ferguson played a lovely ball down the right flank to Rory Woods and again Woods’ pace and skill helped him shrug off the attention of his marker. Between the 25 and the circle Woods evaded tackle after tackle, twisting and turning with great agility. Once in the circle and with just enough space to get a shot away, he unleashed a backhand drive that flew past Adams in the Methody goal and rattled the backboards.
The second-half followed a similar pattern to the first. An early Academy attack instigated by John McCague drew a series of fouls from the Methody left-back and umpire McBride showed the green card. Despite the two minute numerical advantage, the away team couldn’t increase their lead.
With a little over three minutes remaining Rory Woods mustered up another piece of individual brilliance. Collecting the ball wide right on the half-way line he cut inside the first tackle driving at the heart of the home defence. A combination of craft and determination carried him deep into the circle and as he slowed he turned one way and then the other bamboozling the three defenders in close attendance before slipping the ball past the on-rushing Gavin Adams.
With a difficult trip to Cookstown successfully negotiated in the previous round and Saturday’s trip to Methody ending in victory, both games great adverts for schoolboy hockey, the Academy now await the outcome of the semi-final draw.
The Academy join Friends’ School Lisburn in the draw after they beat Royal and Prior earlier in the week. RBAI still have to make the journey to Kilkeel and Campbell host Sullivan in the remaining quarter-final ties. The semi-finals are due to be played on Tuesday March 5 and Thursday March 7 and are sure to be keenly contest whatever the draw throws up.