Banbridge Academy coach Simon Jess and his Wallace High opposite number, Gareth Kidd, are expecting a tough battle when their sides meet in the John Minnis Estate Agents Burney Cup semi-final at Lisnagarvey on Wednesday (3.15pm).
The winners will meet either Sullivan Upper or Methodist College in the final at Stormont on Thursday March 28 (7.30pm).
Last year’s finalists Sullivan face Methody in the first half of what should be an exciting double bill on Wednesday (1.30pm).
“We played Bann twice before this season and both were draws and then it was 3-3 in a friendly after Christmas,” said Gareth.
“In the quarter final against Regent, at half time we were 2-1 up after a lot of pressure. We had a good spell for 15-20 minutes in early second half when we scored a few.”
“But Bann will be a big step up though and they are always a massive rival.
“The two trophies we won in recent years we beat them in final. They’ve a massive tradition in the cup. Bann were always a school others looked up to and admired the success they had and we were no exception.”
“Every time we play Bann it’s tough and this will be the same. It will be a tough game but any draw was going to be tough at this stage,” said Academy coach Jess.
“I’d say Wallace are potentially the favourites for the competition, so yes very tough. “
“After the quarter final win over RBAI (2-0), we will definitely have to up our game by two or three gears. Inst played very well, stuck to their game plan and hit us on the counter.”
“They tucked well in behind defensively and didn’t give us too many chances. It was difficult to the extent we came from a first round game against Friends’ – a very tough team so we almost peaked for that.”
“So to get up for the next round was difficult but we came through it which was good so we’ll have to peak again for the semi.”
Methodist College will be aiming to avenge a 3-2 McCullough Cup semi-final loss to Sullivan in the rematch on Wednesday.
“We haven’t played them since. Since then, we’ve had two good wins against Cookstown and Antrim in the Burney,” said MCB coach Rory Capper.
“The McCullough game could have gone either way. We had our chances but needed to work a lot more on our corners and then we were winning in last 10 minutes.
“So we need to do better at controlling the game in the closing stages and take our chances.
“There is always pressure but they will go in as favourites, having won the cup two seasons ago, so it will be another close game I expect.”