Final showdown /* STETHS, Clarendon in daCosta decider
It's the matchup most people envisaged at the start of the 2014 Inter-secondary SchooIs Sports Association (ISSA)/LIME daCosta Cup season.
A winner-takes-all final between defending champions St Elizabeth Technical High (STETHS) and Clarendon College.
The two will go head-to-head this afternoon at the Montego Bay Sports Complex, starting at 3 p.m.
Their destiny to clash in the final was almost aligned from the onset, and a dress rehearsal in the Ben Francis KO semi-final two weeks ago, which STETHS won 6-5 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out, only whetted the appetite in time for the main course.
Now they square off for the biggest prize in rural-area schoolboy football, the prestigious daCosta Cup, and a humdinger of a final is expected, with the winners to be declared champions.
"This is like clash of the titans, as Clarendon and STETHS always produce top-class football, but we have a well-balanced squad of players and we are looking to keep the trophy we won last year," Omar Wedderburn, the STETHS head coach said.
STETHS edged Dinthill 1-0 in the semi-final to reach a fourth consecutive final.
DEFEAT FOR GLENMUIR
Clarendon defeated parish rival Glenmuir 2-1 in extra time in their semi-final two weeks ago, with Walters declaring that he wants to go "crocodile hunting", a term used by Wedderburn to describe his school's timely approach when going for the win.
His job could be easier, at least on paper, as STETHS will have to do without the services of two of their top players. Leading striker Donjay Smith is out with an ankle injury he picked up in the semi-final match against Dinthill, while fellow striker Javoney Brown also misses the match injured.
"We would have liked to have them playing, but we have a quality side. It means that other players who will be given a chance will have to step up and produce like champions," Wedderburn said.
Six-time winners Clarendon College last tasted success in
1998. They will be keen on kick-starting another period of dominance and putting an end to STETHS' hold on the title.
"We are expecting another tough contest between us and STETHS. They are champions and want to keep the title. We are chasing it and are confident we can achieve it," said Clarendon coach Patrick Jackie Walters.
"All my players are fit; there is no injury to report, so we are hoping for a good day," added Walters.
STETHS's path to the final has not been as smooth as they would have liked, but according to Wedderburn, they relish the opportunity to build character.
They moved in the semi-finals, winning all three matches in the quarter-final round and topping the group on nine points, then took care of Dinthill 1-0 on a Shawn Genus goal and are now one win away from their first-ever back-to-back hold on the title they treasure most.
Clarendon, too, racked up maximum nine points from quarter-final action and toppled Glenmuir 2-1 in the semi-final to make their first final appearance in 16 years.