The Leaney are relishing their cup chance

The Leaney squad
The Leaney squad

It’s the Leaney Primary School’s first appearance in the showpiece final for quite a few years, but their teacher in charge, Mr Jonny Rankin, told Times Sport the players’ hard work has paid off this season.

“It’s a great achievement and I am very proud of them,” he said.

“They have worked hard to get to the final, training two times a week through all types of weather. They never complain and get stuck in when asked.

“We have had a great season so far. We made it to the finals of the Killowen cup for the first time in many years and did well in the Mullan cup.

“To get to the Doherty cup final we have had to play a lot of good teams but thankfully we managed to win each time.

“The squad this year is fantastic, from the starting team through to everyone that turns up for training.

“The level of ability is great. Some boys have previous experience of the cup as they have been in the team since Year Five.

“We have two boys training with Club NI and one who has been selected to go to Germany to play. So we are definitely not lacking in big game experience.”

The final, as always, will of course be played at Coleraine Showgrounds, and Mr Rankin says the boys are really looking forward to stepping out on to the big pitch.

“The players are very excited and have been asking lots of questions about it like ‘Will the floodlights be on?’ ‘Will there be a lot of people?’,” he said.

“It’s a very big occasion and we will arrive at The Showgrounds early so the boys can have a look around and enjoy the experience.”

That excitement is not just limited to the footballers but the entire school with plans to create a memorable atmosphere already in full swing.

“There is a lot of excitement throughout the whole school,” explained Mr Rankin.

“We talk about the team’s progress during assemblies and all the children are proud of how the team is doing.

“The school is working hard at making flags and banners, displaying them in the school as the countdown continues to the big day.”

Just like his counterpart at Millburn, Mr Rankin is encouraging as many people as possible to come out and support both teams in what is such a special occasion for everyone involved.

“We ask everyone from the Toon to come and support the Leaney Primary School,” he said.

“Tickets are available from school or they can pay on the night. We want a big support so that the boys know Ballymoney is behind them.”