Sport

Four the hard way

KC, JC, Wolmer's, STATHS hunt Manning Cup final spots

BY HOWARD WALKER
Observer senior reporter
walkerh@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

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Defending champions Kingston College (KC) will put their InterSecondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Digicel Manning Cup title on the line when they face arch rivals Jamaica College (JC) at 5:00 pm, while St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) tackle Wolmer's Boys at 3:00 pm in semi-final action insideNational Stadium.

The ISSA urban competition started in September with 44 schools, but now it's down to just four teams vying for two spots for the grand finale set for Friday, November 29.

KC and STATHS might start as slight favourites to meet in the final, but no one in their right mind would be surprised if both JC and Wolmer's set do likewise.

The stage is set for two epic games, and barring rain, fans should be treated to free-flowing and exciting football from four quality teams.

All four schools are accustomed to being in contention this late in the competition, but none moreso than JC – the most successful school with 29 titles – who are into their seventh-straight semi-final and their 11th in the last 13 years.

KC, who ended a 31-year drought in 2018 by lifting their 15 title, are the only team of the four, yet to taste defeat in any competition and will be appearing in their fourth-consecutive semi-finals with their stocks up after eliminating JC in the all-island knockout Champions Cup last Saturday.

But both coaches will tell you that that game means nothing today and they will start from scratch in pursuit of further glory.

KC, coached by Ludlow Bernard, ended JC's five-year reign in 2018 and the “Dark Blues” from Old Hope Road, though not looking the most assured, are dangerous contenders with a squad loaded with talent, and once they get it together on the day, they can beat any team.

Guided by Davieon Ferguson, JC will be looking towards Phillon Lawrence, Shaniel Thomas, Alvarez Cooper, Oquassa Chong, Tyrese Small, Tajay Grant, Richard Thompson, Shadane Lopez, Omar Thompson, Nickaye Murray and Duncan McKenzie to book them a spot in the final.

KC, who have been steady throughout the season, will be depending on top scorer Dwayne Atkinson to once again lead from the front. Also, Ronaldo Robinson, 15-year-old striker Tyrese Williams, captain Jamari Morrison, Rajiv Gavin, Calvin Gardner, Sajair Blair, Luis Watson, Scott McLeod, Demario McCarthy and Michael Allen will have key roles in the thrust for victory.

In the curtain-raiser, the impressive STATHS will be playing in their third-consecutive semi-final and will be hoping to return to the final which they lost in 2017 to JC, while Wolmer's make a return to the top-four for the first time since 2016.

Both teams are looking to end long Manning Cup droughts and one will definitely be in the final for sure. STATHS have been waiting for 32 years, having last won in 1987. KC had won in 1986 and they ended their long drought in 2018.

Certainly, Wolmer's Boys don't think so as they themselves are in the hunt to quench their 25-year thirst, having last won in 1994, but have come close in 2016 when they lost the final to JC.

This will be another mouth-watering encounter between two very good teams capable of lifting the prestigious Manning Cup. Wolmer's are hunting their 11th title, while STATHS are eager to add to their solitary crown in 1987.

Wolmer's, for their part, will be depending on Ronaldo Webster, Rushane Thompson, Orlando Russell, Jaheim Rose, Rivaldo Mitchell, Jhavier Lynch for victory, while STATHS look to Noel Walker, Mikel Riley, Romario Campbell, Shemar Daley, Steve McQueen and Marc Chambers for inspiration.


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