1st round ends with few shocks
With 19 and 16 points respectively, Excelsior High and Norman Manley High emerged from the group without much fuss. After the first set of matches the group seemed poised for an extended battle but as it stands there was no such luck. Campion College will certainly be the most disappointed team, claiming only one point from eight matches, a 1-1 draw with Greater Portmore High.
In the 'Group of Death', it was many-time champions Jamaica College that provided the group with the desired 'cutting edge'. Amassing the maximum 24 points from their eight games, they went about their business conceding just four goals, while scoring 21. Bustling over the line in second place was Camperdown with 14 points.
The St Catherine-based duo of St Jago High and Waterford High failed to provide the excitement and fight Manning Cup fans have grown to expect, while Mona High was merely an avenue for a guaranteed six points for their opponents.
The battle for top spot between Hydel High and St George's College (StGC) provided the most interesting storyline of the round. With Hydel leading the group heading into the final day and on course to pip StGC for the Walker Cup spot, the defending champions crushed Clan Carthy High 15-0. The result propelled them to an impressive 50 goals from their 10 games played.
At the same time, Hydel ended up 2-1 victims of Denham Town High, remaining that despite their valiant efforts, their only prize is a spot in the second round. Denham Town did well for themselves with that victory, allowing them to edge ahead of Jose Marti School as the next best third placed team of the round.
The best placed third place team of the round was Innswood High, claiming for themselves an impressive 19 points in a group that contained Bridgeport High, Calabar and Tivoli High.
Dropping just five points from a possible 30 in the round, Bridgeport will be confident that they can make a serious title push in both the Manning and Walker Cups, while former Walker Cup champions Calabar miss out on the knock-out competition altogether, despite being the most prolific team of the group with 24 goals, while conceding just five.
Arguably the most balanced group of the opening round, it was another St Catherine-based duo of Spanish Town High and St Catherine High that led all teams to two automatic qualifications spots. Their performances saw them claim 21 and 17 points respectively.
This was the only group in which no team managed to claim 20 goals, while of the six competing teams only Trench Town failed to amass double-digits in points providing further evidence of its competitiveness.
The Heroes Circle-based competitors Wolmer's Boys' kicked off with a bang, but disappointed somewhat towards the end of the round. They did claim an impressive 26 points, while scoring 48 goals, but based on their pre-tournament hype, no one expected them to drop any points at all. Finishing strongly was Donald Quarrie High, who made a statement by bagging 22 points from their 10 games played.
With 50 goals for and three against, Charlie Smith emerged as statistically the best team of the round. A 0-0 draw away to Kingston College was the only chink in their armour and the mowed past everything in their way.
Kingston College was also on the efficient side, putting together 25 points in a typical 'get the job done' manner. Their 4-1 final day win over Ardenne High ensured that they secured enough points to clip archrivals Calabar for the solitary Walker Cup spot for best overall second place team of the round.
— Devaro Bolton