CLOUNAGH Junior High School pupils could achieve a first on two fronts next week in Ballymena.
Victory over Boys’ Model would finally secure Clounagh ribbons to a Northern Ireland Schools’ Cup title, plus complete a superb winning run across three competitions.
Clounagh will make the trip to the Ballymena third-generation playing surface as holders of the Mid-Ulster league and cup prizes.
Nine consecutive wins helped Clounagh capture the area honours, with success on six additional occasions placing the under 12s in this season’s Umbro Minor Cup showpiece.
“It is all down to the hard work put in by the boys, to be honest,” said Clounagh coach, Raymond Hill. “They have won every match so far this season and victory next Wednesday would be a great way to sign off on the season.
“The Northern Ireland manager, Michael O’Neill, will be in attendance and our final is one of eight on the agenda.
“It should be a great day, with a cracking atmosphere.
“From speaking to other teachers in the school, it seems Clounagh reached one previous Northern Ireland final but lost so we have a chance to do something really special.
“However, irrespective of the result, the boys deserve so much credit and have had a season to remember.
“The players display a wonderful attitude and willingness to learn so that helps when it comes to coaching.
“Support from parents has also been vital, with a number planning to take time off work to cheer the boys on next week.
“That has been the case so far this season for games home and away, with parents extremely supportive.
“There is a strong system at work within the area and players can only benefit from coaching at school and club level.
“I have seen players like Luke McCullough and Jordan Gilmore come out of the school system and go on in the game.
“The work put in by volunteers with local clubs should also be valued and it is a case of everyone working together to help the boys.”
CLOUNAGH JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOL: Tyler Blair, Sam Tuxworth, Luke McCartney, Ryan Whyte, Matthew Telford, Pablo De Andrade, Luke Wilson, Luke Kernaghan, Nedas Maciliuitis, Jackson Nesbitt, James McCann, Jack Glass, Jake Hill, Jack McIvor, Ben Browne.