Ludlow Bernard has won the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup as head coach of Kingston College (KC) twice.
He won it first in 2018 when they beat North Street rivals St George's College in a drama-filled game, and again last Saturday when they got the better of another rival, Jamaica College, in an equally dramatic sudden death penalty shootout win after a 1-1 regulation time draw.
Bernard said that winning the Manning Cup for a second time was very important to him, something he expected to happen before the 2020 season got cancelled due to the pandemic caused by COVID-19.
“It is always good to move from one to two because I wanted to prove that number one was no fluke and that it could be repeated. So, I was probably anxious to play the 2020 season because I knew we had a team that could go all the way, but it didn't happen,” he said.
The experienced and wily campaigner said he was mentally prepared for what he expected to be a very challenging season.
“Fast forward to 2021-2022, we had a team that could do it, but I told my management from early that it was going to be a very, very bumpy ride. They didn't believe me, but they are eventually witnessing it,” he said.
After winning the Manning Cup in 2018, KC went on to lose the Olivier Shield against DaCosta Cup champions Clarendon College, but Bernard is aiming to go all the way against 2021-2022 DaCosta Cup champions Garvey Maceo this year.
He admitted that it was nerve-wracking to win the Manning Cup via the penalty shootout route, especially with his most lethal striker, Chris Pearson, missing from the spot.
“I really wanted to get it done from the beginning. Probably the one we expected to score didn't deliver. It is really tough that he missed, but the hotter the battle the sweeter the victory.”
Bernard has his eyes on winning the only schoolboy title yet to go in his personal trophy cabinet.
“It feels good going for number two, but for me, more importantly, I am going for the elusive one, the Olivier Shield,” he declared only moments after getting his hands on the Manning Cup.
“That's the one. We really wanted to clear this hurdle (Manning Cup), so that we could go for the next one, (Olivier Shield).”
He is expecting a very tough matchup against the DaCosta Cup champions Garvey Maceo.
“We have to be very smart. The first thing is to recover, we need to get them back sharp and focused because these celebrations will be short,” he said immediately after the Manning Cup win,” Bernard noted.
Garvey Maceo and Kingston College will meet in the final game of the ISSA schoolboy football season in the Olivier Shield Saturday at the STETHS Sports Complex starting at 3:00 pm.
— Dwayne Richards