Following Saturday’s Schools’ Cup third round defeat to Regent House, Portora Head Coach, Adrian Walker had nothing but praise for his team: “Ideally we would have loved to progress but I couldn’t have asked any more from the players. It was the best performance we’ve had all season. Tactically and defensively we played well but we were unlucky on the day. We had more possession but the weather just made it difficult for us.” Portora will now enter the quarter-final stage of the Schools’ Bowl competition, a competition which they haven’t been involved in for a long time.

Their opposition next Saturday week (Feb 8th) will be the losers of Saturday’s postponed match between Belfast High School and Omagh Academy. Should it be the latter of the two, it will be the fourth time they’ve met in the last year and the record stands in Omagh’s favour, having won two of the three meetings.

Lifting his player’s spirits for this game is not something that overly concerns Adrian: “We’re still in a quarter-final! Cup rugby only takes one win to get a good run going and get a bit of momentum going again. We’ll definitely be going looking for the win. If we can maintain the intensity we showed last Saturday, I believe we can make it to the semi-final.” There was a narrow margin between victory and defeat last weekend, says Adrian, and on another day it could have been very different.

“There was nothing between us. They were a good, well drilled opposition. Yes, our boys were confident going into the game and played some very good defensive rugby until the very end.” He goes on to add: “It is disappointing for the boys but I wouldn’t say we were devastated. If you give everything and win, it’s great. If you give everything and lose, well, you know you’ve done all you could.” Following Saturday’s game, Adrian is relieved to be preparing with a full squad to pick from, after everyone came through relatively uninjured: “The boys were well battered and bruised but it’s nothing a couple of light gym sessions and a swim won’t sort” he concludes.