Photo: Defending Champions Cornwall College will be hoping for thre points against Green Pond as they begin the defense of the ISSA/FLOW DaCosta Cup on Saturday at 6:15 pm at the Catherine Hall Stadium.
Despite the threat of hurricane Irma to the Caribbean region, the focus of most Jamaicans will be less on the weather this weekend and more on the start of highly anticipated Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Associations (ISSA)/FLOW Schoolboy Football Competitions. Both the Manning and DaCosta Cup competitions get underway on Saturday, with two games and an opening ceremony at the Catherine Hall Stadium in Montego Bay, St. James, while a number of games will be on elsewhere in both competitions, in what is anticipated to be another great schoolboy football season.
In the corporate area, Jamaica College who are the defending champions for the Manning Cup and the Olivier Shield will start as favourites to retain their titles as Miguel Coley seeks to extend his win streak as head coach at the institution. The only trophy Coley is yet to win is the Walker Cup and having lost out to KC in the final last season, will be looking to add that title to his CV this term.
It will be the usual suspects going after the major trophies in the 2017 edition of ISSA/FLOW Schoolboy football season. While other schools will harbour thoughts of breaking through, it is hard to see any team releasing the strangle hold of the usual suspects come the end of November or start of December.
Wolmer’s Boys won the Super Cup for the first time and continued the corporate area dominance of the prestigious knock out competition. No team has defended the title in this particular competition, but the Boys from Heroes Circle are determined to be the first to do so. It won’t be easy but they are a determined bunch. The Super Cup isn’t the only trophy on their radar, the Manning Cup, Walker Cup and Olivier Shield are all on their wish list.
Kingston College will start the season with massive expectations despite claiming only the Walker Cup last year. The school has not won the Manning Cup in over three decades and the pressure increases on the head coach each year to deliver. Ludlow Bernard who is the head coach is also an old boy and appreciates the level of expectation that comes with the start of the season.
St. Georges College failed to win a single trophy last season and their head coach Neville "Bertis" Bell has vowed to change that in 2017. His boys have looked good in pre-season, defeating their main rivals Kingston College twice ahead of the start of the season. They will be energized by these results as the confidence returns to the “Sky Blues”.
Excelsior High, Bridgeport High and St. Catherine High who won the inaugural INSPORTS Challenge Trophy are dark horses to upset the apple cart but will have to show more consistency than they did last season to truly contend for major trophies.
Cornwall College was magnificent in 2016, winning all their DaCosta Cup games as they romped to the title, dethroning St. Elizabeth Technical in the final. Their coach Dr. Dean Weatherly is not at all satisfied with just the DaCosta Cup and will be gunning to add the Ben Francis Cup, Super Cup and Olivier Shield to his shopping cart in 2017. It will be quite a task for any team to win all four, but Weatherly who has won just about everything in football as a coach is determined to be the first DaCosta Cup coach to get his hands of the ISSA/FLOW Super Cup.
STETHS are a wounded animal and will return with predatory instincts intact, as they hunt silverware after two finals losses in both the DaCosta Cup and Ben Francis Cup last season. They will be taking it one game at a time but with the desire for all major titles at the back of their minds. They have a very experienced and capable unit and will be challenging on all fronts.
Lennon High defied the odds to dethrone STETHS on the way to winning their first senior schoolboy football title when they lifted the Ben Francis Cup. A lot of their senior players have left and they will be pushed to retain the title. They are unlikely however, to give it up without a fight and having retained just over 40% of their squad, will be relying on their senior players to push them towards more glory.
Clarendon College, Dinthill Technical, Munro College and Glenmuir High will all begin as major contenders as well, in what is expected to be a very competitive DaCosta Cup.
No team from the DaCosta Cup has ever won the Super Cup. Cornwall College came the closest last year, when they were the first to make it to the final of the three year old competition, before losing to Wolmer’s by the odd goal in a nail biting final. Only the top four teams from the Manning Cup and the DaCosta Cup will contest this year’s Super Cup making it even harder to win as it is now twice as hard to get in.
In the day’s opening encounter on Saturday at 4:00pm, defending Manning Cup Champions Jamaica College will take on St. Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) in a repeat of last season’s opener. Jamaica College got the better of STATHS last year and will be looking for more of the same tomorrow. STATHS will be looking for a change of fortunes as they seek to create the first big upset in the competition on opening day. A change in format in the second round means every first round game now takes on more importance so neither team can afford to slip up which makes for an even more exciting game.
In the feature game, the defending DaCosta Cup champions Cornwall College will look to carry over their win streak from last season into this one with a win over Green Pond but can expect no favours from a team looking to make a mark this season by taking the scalp of their much vaunted rivals on Super Saturday.