All the points came in the first half and it was a superb defensive effort from the Holywood school that propelled them to the last four and a clash with Ballymena Academy at Kingspan Stadium.

For long periods of the second half Sullivan were camped on their own try line but held firm as Methody pushed for the winning score.

“The character of these lads is unbelievable, it's a really special group...they fight for each other,” said Sullivan assistant coach Dave Cave. “We came here earlier in the year and it was a similar story, we fought to the end and, thankfully, we were able to replicate that and come out on the right side. Defensively we prepared really well, that's the joy of having two weeks in between the games.

“We've given the boys lots of different scenarios that we thought we might be in during the game and when those played out today we were able to manage them. The pitch here is bigger than Sullivan’s pitch so we did some work trying to replicate that and the lads have gotten used to playing on a wider pitch, that really showed in our 'D' and spacing.”

Cave was part of the team the only time Sullivan have reached the final, a decade ago. But he is hoping the current crop of players can be the first to lift the trophy for the school.

“The lads spoke about that during the week, but they made history, no Sullivan team has ever beaten a top-four side in the Schools' Cup,” said Cave. “These lads made history so it's not about anything I did, or we did, in the past...all the focus is on them, it's a great group of players.

"We’ve been close a few times and something doesn't go our's always the same against these big rugby schools, they're very hard to beat. Lads go there to play rugby and we're trying to change the narrative, a not so much rugby-playing school that we can attract more rugby players to it and, hopefully, we'll see the fruits of that in the future.

“Some of those lads have been exposed to Ulster Schools stuff last summer and some of them will be again this summer. That's another thing that's really great for the school and then stands them in good stead in games like this, they're able to perform in high-pressure moments.”

Cave is hoping to turn Kingspan Stadium green and black for the semi-final.

“Hopefully the whole school will get behind us, get everyone a day off school that's not involved and get them there,” he said. “It'll be a great day out but we'll not be there just for the occasion, we'll be there to do a job and try and get to the final.”

Prop Nathan Noble got and early try for Sullivan which Harry McKeown converted. The centre added a penalty to extend the lead to 10-0 before flanker Rudy Jordan went over for Methody just before half-time.

Ballymena booked their place in the last four with a 17-5 win at Regent House

Holders RBAI will meet Wallace in the other semi-final. The defending champions beat Banbridge Academy 45-10, while Walace won 35-17 at Enniskillen Grammar.

2024-02-12T09:02:35Z dg43tfdfdgfd