Omagh Academy 1st XV 0

Enniskillen Royal 1stXV 45

You would have to have a heart of stone not to have felt sympathy for the boys of Wallace High School when the announcement came in March that the Danske Bank Schools Cup Final was to be cancelled for the 19/20 season, the only time it has happened since 1911. Armagh, who would have been their opponents, have won the Cup 7 times including the inaugural event in 1876. Along the way to their place in the Final, Wallace narrowly edged past a resurgent Enniskillen Royal, who have not featured in the Cup Final since their two wins and a draw in 1940 – ’42, (as Portora Royal). This year Enniskillen have a sniff of a chance of redressing that and they opened their season with a trip to local rival’s, Omagh Academy, where they showed why they could be in contention.

Royal have been training well during the pre-season, or as well as they could within the Covid regulations, and were pressing on the Omagh defence from the kick-off. It took just a few minutes for them to break down that defence. Enniskillen’s Captain, and unquestioningly the side’s leader, Callum Smyton, picked from the back of a scrum 15 metres out and beat two defenders on his way to a try under the posts. Royal’s out half, Eddie Keys, converted.

From a slow start Omagh worked their way back into the game and while they showed little sign of presenting a credible strike force, they very successfully disrupted Royals plays. It was another 15 minutes before the Fermanagh men crossed the Omagh line again. Moving the ball from wing to wing Enniskillen eventually created an overlap and winger, Jason Bothwell, touched down in the corner. Keys converted from the touchline.

Enniskillen’s third try came courtesy of a sidestep and line break by lock, Matthew Beatty, who set up a field position for Royal to out flank Omagh once again. This time winger, Sam Milligan, did the honours.

Omagh fought back bravely, despite the 19 points deficit and had their best period of the match. Unfortunately, they lacked continuity and line breaks were unsupported. When Enniskillen turned over the ball they broke quickly and effectively, usually through their speedy full back, Taine Haire, and play was taken back into Omagh’s half.

Royal were much more clinical. From a scrum inside the Tyrone side’s 22 metre line Smyton broke away and put a timely pass in the hands of

inside centre, Stephen Balfour, who dotted down under the posts. Keys converted to put Royal ahead by 26 points to nil.

The next try went to flanker, David Stinson, who was immense throughout the match. Strong in defence and dangerous in attack, he was one of the players Omagh had most difficulty in stopping. Stinson broke through the Omagh line to complete an end to end move by Royal and beat two defenders on his way to score.

Enniskillen finished with two more tries. One of those featured a well-timed dummy by Royal’s, Matthew Wilson, as he went through to score under the posts. The final score was another end to end play by Enniskillen. Stinson and winger, Sam Balfour, passed the ball back and forwards between themselves to take play from Royal’s 22 metre line to Omagh’s try line where Balfour touched down.

It was a comfortable win for Enniskillen by 45 points to nil and an excellent performance for their first match of the season. They made quite a few handling errors at the start but as the game went on this improved, as did their decision making. By the final period, when both sides put out their strongest 15, the gap between the sides was clear. Royal played with a level of speed, skill and confidence that their opponents could not match.

The coaches will be hoping that more games can now be played and will be waiting to hear if their postponed fixture against last year's unlucky Cup finalists, Armagh Royal, can proceed on Saturday.

ERGS Try scorers:- Callum Smyton, Jason Bothwell, Sam Milligan, Stephan Balfour, David Stinson, Matthew Wilson & Sam Balfour

Conversions:- Eddie Keys (5)