Enniskillen Royal will play Down High School, from Downpatrick, in the last 16 of the Danske Bank Ulster School’s Cup. The match is scheduled for Saturday, February 9 and crucially, it will be played on ERGS home ground at the Eisenhower Playing Fields.

ERGS Head Coach, Ashley Finlay, said that he was content with the draw.

“Any team that reaches the Fourth round of the Cup will be dangerous, there are no easy games at this level. Yes, we have home advantage, but they have some serious strike power, it will be tough match.”

ERGS are ranked fourth in Ulster Schools, well above their opponents at 17th but, as every coach knows, that guarantees you nothing.

“It is the performance on the day that counts,” said Finlay. “Down have had some notable successes recently, they knocked Omagh out in the previous round, 15-3, so we certainly won’t be taking them lightly.”

Down boast some star players, most notably their out-half, Greg Hutley. Hutley, who starts for both Ulster U18s and U19s and has been called up to train with the Irish U19s. Their number 8 and captain, Reece Hagan, is another player that ERGS will be targeting.

Enniskillen though have their own key players, five of whom are involved with the Ulster Academy, with Callum Smyton, Ulster’s U17 captain, being the most prominent. In recent weeks ERGS have had excellent preparation matches against top Belfast sides, BRA and Sullivan Upper. Both matches came down to the wire and although the Fermanagh side lost, Finlay was very happy with the performances. “We have had an excellent season, only losing one match, but we needed these tough games to sharpen us up,” he said.

With an average age that is approximately a year younger than their opponents, ERGS will struggle for size and power but they will hope that their speed and their defence will, as it has all season, more than compensate for that deficiency. It has been a number of years since ERGS, and it’s predecessor, Portora, have reached the quarter-finals. In 2006, Enniskillen RFC’s current out-half, Nick Finlay, took his Portora team to a semi-final in Ravenhill where they lost by a single try to Campbell College.

Playing at full back that day was one Ashley Finlay, current Head Coach with ERGS who will be hoping to make it all the way this time.

Down’s coaches, Charlie Knox and John Gunston, and their team will be full of confidence following their Third round win over Omagh Academy where a drop goal and an intercept try tell you all you need to know about the side’s all round versatility. It will, undoubtedly, be a well contested match and ERGS are hoping for major home support to give them the advantage needed to carry them through.