Premier battle - Glenmuir, St George's launch quest for Olivier Shield
Ryon Jones, Staff Reporter
The island's top two senior schoolboy football teams will clash in the first leg of the Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/Gatorade/Digicel Olivier Shield final at Constant Spring Complex today, as Glenmuir High and last year's winners St George's College vie for the distinction of being crowned all-island champions.
The game is slated to kick off at 3 p.m., with the second leg to be played on Saturday at Brancourt, Clarendon.
St George's, the 22-time Manning Cup champions, are seeking their 14th hold on the Olivier Shield and fourth in the last five years. Standing in St George's way is a Glenmuir team that has won the Olivier Shield crown on the two previous occasions they won the daCosta Cup - beating Excelsior in 2004 and sharing the title with Bridgeport in 2006.
Glenmuir's head coach, Patrick 'Jackie' Walters, is not under any illusion that their good fortune in the competition is certain to continue, as he is cognisant of the quality their opponents possess.
"We are the underdogs, so we are just going there to perform and give our best, but we are up to the challenge and the players are prepared to go out there and give their best," Walters said.
Glenmuir have managed more than 50 goals this season, with Noel Johnson leading the way with 15. Newton Henry and Donovan Morgan will provide support.
Walters is, however, mourning the short space of time his team has had between their daCosta Cup final 1-0 win over St Elizabeth Technical High School on Saturday and the Olivier Shield final.
St George's got by Hydel High 3-0 to win the Manning Cup on November 24 to set themselves up for the double, a step down from the triple crown they won last year, which had also included the Walker Cup.
"We are coming to play football and give our best, given our circumstances playing a game on Saturday, and we are in recovery mode now - celebration and all that," Walters shared.
Having already achieved their main objective of retaining the Manning Cup, St George's are merely looking to enjoy the rest of the season. The 'Light Blues' have so far scored 62 goals, while conceding 11 in 16 games.
"We are looking forward to it (the final), as these games are a test for us and we want to see where we are all the time," St George's head coach, Neville Bell, expressed.
"We are a confident bunch and I think if we play the way we have been playing recently, then we should be all right."
Bell intends to start the same eleven that won the Manning Cup final, as he targets a win in the first leg. The team is led in scoring by Cordel Benbow, who has netted on 12 occasions, and Romario Jones with 10.
"We want to win the first one and we are going to do everything in our power to," Bell said.