Coach confident Firsts can go all the way to final

PAST AND PRESENT. Teacher John Devlin, who joined the staff at Dalriada in 1993, the same year the school's 1st XV rugby team last played at the then Ravenhill in the Ulster School's Cup.INBM8-16 013SC.
PAST AND PRESENT. Teacher John Devlin, who joined the staff at Dalriada in 1993, the same year the school's 1st XV rugby team last played at the then Ravenhill in the Ulster School's Cup.INBM8-16 013SC.

Dalriada Coach John Devlin joined the teaching staff at the school in 1993, the same year the First XV made it through to the final of the Schools Cup.

With this year’s talented team already having booked their place in the semi finals, he is confident that they are more than capable of making it to the show piece final on St. Patrick’s Day.

“I’m the only person in the school who was involved with the 1993 team who made it to the final. It’s a case of deja vu about this becasue we played Bangor Grammar in the semis and then Campbell College in the final so there’s a pattern emerging here.

“I think back to that and we weren’t given any chance that day either. One more score before half time and I think we would have won it. There is a similarity in the team from the 92/93 season, it was coached by the late Arthur Topping and he had worked with them for about three years. This team is a real mixture in the sense that we have a balance of Upper and Lower Sixth boys and boys straight out of the Medallion and it has a lot of talent across the board. Not being disparaging to the ‘93 team but we had certain players like Tony McWhirter who went on to great things and he was the main fulcrum around how that team operated. This team has players of high quality, from 1 to 15 and also on the bench.

“Rugby has moved on quite a lot from ‘93, coaching has changed quite a lot with more emphasis on individual skills and blending it into a team unit.

“I was looking at some of the old pictures and what is ironic is that I am coaching the son of one of the boys who played in that final.

“There is the belief and confidence we can go all the way to the final.

“Rab Gregg and Benjy Van der Byl have made a great difference to us and there is a real air of confidence.

“We have beaten Campbell at Foxes Field before and we can do it again, we won’t be overawed by this. We have some calm heads and the belief is there.”