Fri | Jan 21, 2022

Champions Cup showdown at Stadium East

Coaches Hyde, Thomas praise improvement at rural schools ahead of final

Published:Saturday | January 15, 2022 | 12:08 AMDaniel Wheeler/Staff Reporter

Clarendon College head coach Lenworth Hyde and Dinthill Technical High School head coach Oneil Thomas have both praised the work that the rural schools have done to increase the competitive level as they prepare to do battle in the first all-rural ISSA Champions Cup final.

Regardless of who wins today’s match at the Stadium East field, a rural school will lift the trophy for the second time since the competition’s inception, breaking the five-year dominance that Corporate Area schools have had on the competition. Kick-off time is 3 p.m.

It is a change that Hyde said will have significance for the contingent of teams in the rural area and shows the level of improvement that they have made in this truncated season.

KUDOS TO COACHES

“It will mean a lot for the rural schools. And I must lift my hat to the coaches. All the coaches in the rural area are stepping up. The game is improving in all schools and I think they are playing good football,” Hyde told The Gleaner. “So kudos to the coaches in the rural area and Jamaica as a whole. I think they are grasping and the players are improving. That is a good look for the country.”

Cornwall College became the first rural team to win the Champions Cup in 2018, defeating 2014 champions Jamaica College that year.

Thomas said that with the limitations that daCosta Cup teams have in terms of recruitment, an all-rural final is a reflection of how much coaches have tailored tactics in facing schools from the Corporate Area.

“So they (rural coaches) understand what is the way forward and they have learnt. I think that is what’s happening now,” Thomas said.

“The Kingston teams usually come to the rural areas and take away the best of the best. So the coaches or the school have to find a way how they can keep those players so they can help their schools, “ he added.

Both teams are coming off the backs of daCosta Cup semi-final disappointments in midweek as Clarendon College saw their championship crown slip to Garvey Maceo while Dinthill fell to Manning’s on penalties. However, Hyde says that his team has recovered from that disappointment and has renewed ambitions in winning the trophy that has eluded him and his team.

“It would mean a lot for us and it would be a great feeling to top off the season with a trophy. They know what’s at stake. We have a chance of getting silverware this year and that alone will motivate them,” Hyde said.

For Thomas, he is hoping to end Dinthill’s 40-year wait for silverware, with the school last tasting success in 1981 when they won the daCosta Cup and shared the Olivier Shield with Kingston College.

daniel.wheeler@gleanerjm.com