On Wednesday 18th April the Aquinas U13 Soccer team play in the NI Schools’ Invitational Cup final at Ballymena Showgrounds. The boys qualified for this tournament by reaching the last eight in the u12 tournament the previous year. In reaching this NI Final the boys have secured a place in the 2019 U14 British Isles competition – against the winners from England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

In our quarter final Aquinas at Seaview, home to Crusaders FC, the boys took on a very strong Clounagh team from Portadown. Lined up with a solid team, the boys got off to a great start. Jack Toner finished nicely for the first goal early on and then he quickly added a second, with Lorcan Swail providing the clinical pass. Lorcan Swail added a third but Clounagh responded on the brink of half time, from a header. We went in at half time 3-1 up but they had momentum. We went into the second half having to defend a lot but we eventually broke through and Jack Toner fired in an excellent breakaway goal for his hat-trick and to seal the 4-1 win.

Our semi-final saw us play Devenish College, Enniskillen at the Mid-Ulster Sports Arena. They had just put out a very formidable St Patrick’s College, Knock team. The game started off very evenly with no real openings and then a free kick by Ben Burns, from the half-way line, caused confusion in the box and went straight in past the goalkeeper. Eunan O’Hare then cleared one off the line, maintaining the single goal lead at half-time. We went out full force in the second half and added two goals, from Jack Toner and Jamie Cunningham, in quick succession. The Devenish heads dropped and the game was won by an excellent fourth goal as Jack Toner chipped the keeper for his second with five minutes on the clock. This was a superb four nil victory over a team who made the semi-finals of the NI Cup the previous year also.

The final is against St Columb’s, Derry who are the holders. Aquinas will undoubtedly be viewed as underdogs, but then again, we were underdogs in the quarter-final and semi-final.

Kick-off is 11am and it is £4 entry and £2 for children or OAPs.

By Eunan O’Hare and Ben Burns