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The Wallace High School boys’ hockey 2nd XI recently completed only the second double in their history, winning both the Prior Shield and Dowdall Cup in a hectic month of fixtures.

On Wednesday 7th March they played Antrim Grammar School 1st XI on a beautiful and crisp spring day at Lisnagarvey Hockey Club, where a large and vociferous crowd enjoyed a thrilling 3 – 2 win for Wallace. Year 14 pupil Aaron Scott opened the scoring in the first half but the team was pegged back from a penalty corner conversion which left the match deadlocked at halftime.

Into the second half and Wallace came flying out of the blocks with Scott and fellow Year 14 player Thomas Burns giving the 2nd XI what looked to be an unassailable 3 – 1 lead. Despite winning several penalty corners and playing the better hockey they were under pressure for the last ten minutes of the game and a late Antrim goal left players, coaching staff and spectators wishing for a quick final whistle. Eventually the umpires blew for time and the co- captains Michael Jones and Dawson Cleland were presented with the Prior Shield, a just reward for an unbeaten campaign which included victories against the traditionally strong Banbridge Academy 2nd XI and a semi- final victory against multiple winners Portadown College 1st XI.

Three days later the team was back in action against Methodist College’s 2nd XI in the second round of the Dowdall Cup, having received a first round bye. Conditions were somewhat different as a miserable, wet and cold day greeted both teams on the Wallace astro turf. Despite the conditions the players put on another tremendous display to dispose of their visitors 7 – 0. Aaron Scott, Ben Clarke and Michael Jones each scored two goals, with Thomas Burns chipping in with the other.

A short break of four days saw the 2XI make the short trip across the Magheralave Road to take on near neighbours Friends’ School in the semi- final. This was always going to be a tough encounter and so it proved as Wallace scored their winning goal with less than 45 seconds remaining in extra time. The co- captains really led the team superbly throughout this game with each appearing on the score sheet. Michael Jones scored the opener from a well worked penalty corner but a goal from our opponents in the second half pushed the game into extra time. With a replay looking like a certainty Dawson Cleland picked up a loose ball, drove into the circle and unleashed an unstoppable reverse stick shot past the Friends’ keeper. Even at this stage the game was not quite over as Friends won a late penalty corner but their failure to convert left another final to look forward to one week later.

Wednesday 21st March saw the team play their last game of this most successful season as they faced up to a Banbridge Academy team wishing to avenge their earlier defeat in the Prior Shield; this occasion was the Dowdall Cup Final at Stormont. A cagey first half ended scoreless but again Wallace took the initiative in the second half with two superbly executed penalty corners from that man Jones again. Banbridge got a goal back with ten minutes remaining but resilient defending from goal keeper Jack McBratney, right back Josh Snoddy and centre back Andrew Graham meant that Wallace secured the Prior Shield and Dowdall Cup double, a  just reward for the squad’s effort throughout the year, allied to outstanding coaching and management from Mr Neil Armstrong.

Commenting on the season Mr Armstrong said: “It has been a great privilege this year to coach such an enthusiastic, committed and passionate group of young men. My role was made so much more enjoyable by the fantastic leadership from co- captains Dawson Cleland and Michael Jones.”

The co- captains themselves were delighted with their whole squad in a season when only two friendly games were lost and all competitive games ended in victory. Dawson Cleland looked back fondly on his time playing for the 2nd XI: “Playing for the 2s has always been about enjoyment over success; however, this year we have been fortunate enough to experience both due to the hard work and commitment given by all members of the squad.” Michael Jones concluded by saying: “Captaining the 2nd XI with Dawson this year has been my most memorable experience from all my time at Wallace. Winning both competitions with such a great group of lads was a fantastic way to top off seven years of school hockey.”

All at Wallace wish to congratulate Mr Armstrong and all players involved for their success this year and wish the Year 14 Leavers all the best for the years ahead.

2nd XI Squad 2017/ 18: Michael Jones (co- captain), Dawson Cleland (co- captain), Jack McBratney, Thomas Burns, Aaron Scott, Andrew Graham, Nathan Fairley, Ben Craig, Johnny Chambers, Josh Snoddy, Thomas Cherry, Alex Faulkner, David Wallace, Jack Campbell, Matthew Blair, Adam Duff, Zach Croskery, Ben Clarke, Tim Curragh

Last modified: January 5, 2023