It’s not a bad way to end it all.
RBAI’s four Banbridge District lads have had a long, hard season of preparations for their day in the sun and boy did it shine on them last Tuesday.
Ethan Harbinson, Jake Chambers, TJ Morris and Michael Lowry all did their bit as their side triumphed 14-10 over Wallace High School at Ravenhill to land the historic Schools’ Cup trophy.
And for Dromore lad TJ Morris, the experience was beyond words.
“It was indescribable,” he said. “During the previous rounds, we thought it was good having the boys’ support but having our whole school and community there cheering us on on St Paddy’s Day was unbelievable. You couldn’t hear yourself speak throughout the entire game.
“It’s only really hitting me now that I’m a Schools’ Cup winner. It’s a dream come true.
“It’s hours and hours of practice on the pitch to get ready for that moment on the pitch. The try we scored to win came from a move we had been trying all year. It hadn’t come off for us but Mr Soper told us he wanted us to do it. He said it would work and obviously it did. It was brilliant.”
Ethan Harbinson, meanwhile, says the crowd helped to calm his nerves at a packed Ravenhill.
“All of our support was right above the tunnel so as we were running out, we could hear the Inst supporters singing and that got us even more motivated for the game,” he said.
“It was brilliant. At the end, everyone was so ecstatic but I just felt that it was a case of ‘job done.’
“I was so exhausted and it only really started to sink in the days after when we saw the aftermath in school. The principal and the whole school were loving every second of it, particularly because we won the Medallion Shield as well so it was a really good year for us.”
Wallace twice took the lead but TJ, whose successful conversions proved the difference, said his side’s character brought them through.
“The boys all gave 100%,” he said. “We kept fighting. That’s the way it’s been all year. We have that character and we don’t give up to the final whistle.
“Wallace went ahead a couple of times. Other teams who maybe aren’t as tight a group might have crumbled but we kept going. Going behind in the Schools’ Cup Final makes you think but our battling performance showed why we deserved to win it.”
Even when Wallace pushed to deny RBAI with late pressure, Ethan says they were confident of holding on.
He said: “I think everyone else was more worried than we were on the pitch. Our lineout defence has been really good throughout. We had turned over seven lineouts in a row or something like that so when it came to the final one, we all felt reasonably comfortable.
“We were amazed that Wallace didn’t choose an alternative. They kept going for the lineout which seemed to suit us.”