WHERE FROM HERE?
Since the inception of the Manning Cup, St George’s College (STGC) and Kingston College (KC) have been two of the most dominant schools in the competition with a combined 38 titles. However, the North Street-based rivals won’t add to that success this season after losing to Mona High and Hydel High, respectively, the latter two having never tasted urban area glory.
St George’s, in their first Inter-secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Manning Cup final in five years, were unable to get by Mona in Friday’s semi-final at Stadium East, going down 1-2. The defeat stung Head Coach Neville “Bertis” Bell, who lamented his team’s inefficiency in attack.
“No one expected us to be here, [but] we expected to be here. This is a quality team. I congratulate Mona because I didn’t think we did well in front of goal, it’s the same thing that hurt us against Clarendon College. We have to improve in front of goal and, as the coach, I will have to take some blame for that because this is our 16th game and I don’t think we were settled on who we wanted to play upfront because I kept pulling and pushing and it didn’t work,” he told the Jamaica Observer.
“We tried hard, it’s a young team and I don’t say that to find an excuse because we didn’t lose because of our youth. We have two Premier League players, a national Under-20 player and seven or eight played Super League so they are young in age but they have experience and I just thought Mona got the better of us like Clarendon did so I congratulate them.”
The Light Blues’ 11-year wait to add to their 22 Manning Cup title continues and Bell, who brought five of those titles, insists the results don’t tell the full tale.
“I don’t think we’ve been that far off the pace. We played a final against KC 2018, 2019 we missed the semi-finals, JC [Jamaica College] had two points, we had two points and Excelsior had two points and JC went through so we were close. Last year, we came fifth, only the four semi-finalists got the better of us. So even though our last championship was 2015, our last final was 2018 and our last Manning Cup was in 2012, I think we have been close so we haven’t been way off the pace. We will come again next year but to win a competition, almost everything has to go right and everything didn’t go right [against Mona],” said Bell.
Meanwhile, KC had a habit of overturning deficits all season but their luck ran out in their 4-5 penalty shoot-out defeat to Hydel. Head Coach Vassell Reynolds knew what could have been but wasn’t overly disappointed with the result.
“I’m proud of the boys, I think we had a good season but I’m disappointed somewhat with the first half. We could have played much better and could have won it in the last five minutes in the game but I mean to have gone down 2 nil against a very good Hydel team, I thought it was a very good performance in the second half and they would have done very well for the season,” he said.
Though they have claimed two of the last four Manning Cup crowns, it’s two in 36 years for the famed purple and whites. But Reynolds, in his first season as head coach, is hoping for a positive end to the campaign.
“We take heart, we still in the infant stage of our rebuilding process. Many people didn’t expect us to be in the semi-finals but the boys continue to grow week after week, match after match and you saw it in the second half, the growth continues. We still have a shot at the title, we have the semi-finals against Glenmuir in the Champions Cup. Let’s hope that the growth will continue into that game and we can get a good result and play in the final to sort of satisfy our performance throughout the season and nab it off with a title,” said Reynolds.
KC’s clash with daCosta Cup finalists Glenmuir in the ISSA Champions Cup takes place on Tuesday at the National Stadium at 3:00 pm. A win for the two-time champions could potentially result in a grudge match with Hydel who play Clarendon College in the second semi-final at 5:15 pm.