Local schoolboy football organisers Inter-Secondary School Sports Association (ISSA) announced plans to yet again re-evaluate the structure of its historic Walker and Ben Francis knockout competitions, which had come in for some criticism last season.

The plans were announced as the details of the 2019-2020 season were revealed at the official competitions' launch at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel, in St Andrew on Wednesday. The 2019 season is scheduled to kick off on Saturday, September 7 with seven Manning Cup games and 31 daCosta Cup matches.

Digicel, in its second stint as title sponsors, last year announced that the telecommunications firm and entertainment provider would invest $75 million over three years in the urban area Manning Cup and Walker Cup Knockout competitions. Wisynco, then, announced a sponsorship package of close to $100 million, over the three years, in the rural area daCosta Cup and Ben Francis Knockout.

The 2019 season will see 129 teams competing for the six trophies. In addition to the Manning Cup and daCosta Cup, teams will also compete for the Walker Cup Knockout, Ben Francis Knockout Cup, Champions Cup, and the season-ending Olivier Shield.

The Ben Francis and Walker Cup competitions were labelled the "losers cup" as last year's format prevented top schools from competing.

Linvern Wright, who announced the structure of the competitions, pointed out that ISSA would not revert to the original format of the Walker Cup and the Ben Francis Cup.

He said, "last year we were experimenting. We listened and have made changes but will not go back to the original formats.

"The commitment continues to ensure that our players are rested for at least 72 hours between games."

For the Ben Francis Cup Knockout, teams which placed second and third in the four respective daCosta Cup quarter-final groups will contest this competition.

Last year, teams which ended third and fourth in the four respective daCosta Cup quarter-final groups contested the Ben Francis, which was a major change compared to the previous year when only the top four daCosta Cup teams competed for the title.

The Ben Francis Knockout Cup will be played in three sets of matchups in three rounds, with the second round being the semi-finals and the third round, the final. 

In the Walker Cup competition, all teams knocked out in the Round of 16 home-and-away second round tie of the Manning Cup will be involved in a playoff, with the winners matching up in a subsequent round with the third and fourth place teams in each of the two Manning Cup quarterfinal groups for four matchups.

The winners of each of those games will qualify for the semi-finals. 

Last season, the Walker Cup competition comprised the eight losers of the Manning Cup Round of 16 home-and-away knockouts;  a major change compared to former years when the seven preliminary round group winners and the best second-place teams earned the right to contest that competition.

SportsMax will be media partners and will broadcast selected matches live throughout the season.

 

Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) president Michael Ricketts hails the sponsors of this season's ISSA Manning and daCosta Cup competitions.

Seven of the best footballers from last year's schoolboy football season are currently training at Stoke City as a part of the Digicel #ISSARealGoals campaign.

Catch our countdown of the top ten goals from the Jamaica Schoolboy Football season.

Clarendon College won the ISSA/Wata daCosta Cup in 2018 and enjoyed a magnificent double when they lifted the Olivier Shield ahead of ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup Champions, Kingston College. The ISSA Champions Cup was won by Cornwall College but that wasn't the entire story of Jamaica's Schoolboy football season. 

SportsMax's Donald Oliver, who was there for every minute of it, remembers the little stories that made up the big stories. He has put together some of his favourites. Just watch!  

Kingston College forward Ari Rodgers is expected to resume training sometime in January for the upcoming track season after sustaining an ankle injury in the ISSA Manning Cup football final on Friday.

Kingston College head coach, Ludlow Bernard, the man who brought the Manning Cup title back to North Street for the first time in 32 years, has asked that everybody look to the players for all the accolades that should come with breaking a long, long losing streak for the former football kingpins.

Bernard oversaw a massive final that also doubled as a North Street Derby with neighbours, St George’s College. The game included five goals and had all the drama and plot twists of good final, with KC coming from behind twice to earn a hard-fought 3-2 win.

“A little birdie told me today that coach you’re going to have to work for this one. A lot of goals are going to be scored and you’re going to have to play catch up,” Bernard told SportsMax’s Shawana Ebanks after the game.

“I have a bunch of boys who are full of fortitude. They told me when they were down 2-1. My captain said to me, ‘coach, wi goin’ win it’,” said a more-animated-than-usual Bernard.

Bernard singled out Nathan Thomas for praise, saying he was going to substitute him but found an obstinate player demanding that he remain on the field.

“I was going to take off Nathan Thomas and he said, ‘no coach, don’t take me off. Believe in me. Believe in me.’ And he scored the winning goal. That man neva score a goal yet!,” said Bernard.

“I have a bunch of boys who are full of fortitude. They told me when they were down 2-1. My captain said to me, ‘coach, wi goin’ win it’. We are not going to lose this.”

Bernard said even as his spirits waivered, the boys remained full of belief and for that, all credit should go to them.

“’We owe you this one’,” Bernard said his charges told him.

“I must take my hat off to these boys. They won it. They said they wanted it and they delivered and that was what the brave is made of.”

Kingston College (KC) are Manning Cup champions againt after 32 years of watching others lift the coveted urban area football crown. 

The 2018 urban area Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA)/Digicel Manning Cup final takes place on Friday, with Kingston College (KC) and St George’s College battling it out at the National Stadium in Kingston at 6:00 pm.

This will be the first meeting between the schools in a Manning Cup final and the battle is the first football final between them since 2011 when St George’s College prevailed 2-1 in the Walker Cup Knockout.

St George’s College are widely considered favourites to pick up their 23rd Manning Cup title by virtue of eliminating five-time defending champions Jamaica College (JC) at the semi-final stage, but KC will be motivated by the prospect of trying to win their first title in 32 years.

The coaches are expecting a good battle, but Bernard believes his team needs the title more.

Bernard said, “there is a lot at stake, 32 years of being in the wilderness and that's the objective of the Kingston College team to end that drought.

“St George's will have their own ambitions, but I think we need it more than them. The boys are very optimistic about their chances and very upbeat about their expected performance.”

Neville ‘Bertis’ Bell, who guided St George's College to five of their 22 Manning Cup titles with victories in 1992, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012, said  “we are pretty confident. Preparations have been going well. We wanted to be in the final and we know it's going to be hard work for us. It's been hard work all season.”

Both schools are undefeated in the competition from 16 games, but KC have managed to gain a better record in all areas going into the final. This will be the third meeting between the two North Street-based schools this season as they played to a 1-1 draw in the preseason Roper Cup and then battled to a 0-0 result during the quarter-final stage of the Manning Cup on October 24 at the Stadium East field.

KC came into the 2018 season with arguably the strongest squad on paper, but there were doubts over whether Bernard would be able to get the best out of talent at his disposal.

But after easily getting through the preliminary stages and the second round, KC lost their perfect win record at the quarter-final stage where they dropped four points from two games (0-0 vs St George’s College and 1-1 vs Charlie Smith High) before beating Camperdown High 2-0 to qualify for the semi-finals for a second straight year.

In the home-and-away preliminary round of the competition, KC won their 10 games and during that stage, they rammed in 52 goals and only conceded one compared to St George’s College, which won eight of their 10 games, scored 39 goals and conceded four.

Both teams also secured easy passage to the quarter-final stage. KC defeated Cumberland High 3-1 and 6-1, while St George’s College beat Mona High 4-1 and 3-0.

In the quarter-final round, both schools were placed in the same group and ended with five points each from three games with KC winning the group courtesy of goal difference.

It was at the semi-final stage that St George’s College earned the tag of favourites as they defeated a very tough Jamaica College side 2-1 on November 20 and made the final a North Street affair.

KC had earlier defeated last season’s beaten finalists St Andrew Technical High School (STATHS) 2-1 in a repeat of last year’s final-four match to make the final for the first time in 17 years.

Interestingly, St George’s College had hammered STATHS 5-0 in the first round of the rebranded all-island Champions Cup knockout competition, 10 days before KC’s 2-1 Manning Cup victory over the Spanish Town Road-based school.

But although St George's College will enter the final as favourites, the momentum is with KC, which have won two football titles over the last two seasons. In 2016, Bernard led KC to the Walker Cup and then in 2017, he guided them to the all-island Champions Cup and based on momentum, the Manning Cup title awaits KC and Bernard in 2018.

Before the Manning Cup final, both teams will also clash in another championship match - the Under-16 final at 3:30 pm.

Kingston College will look to break a 32-year drought when they face St George's College in the final of the ISSA Manning Cup.

Kingston College (KC) coach Ludlow Bernard hailed a 2-1 defeat of St Andrew Technical (STATHS) in the semi-final of the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup on Tuesday, as a vindication of the team’s fearless approach to the football.

This time around last year it was STATHS who turned back the heavily favoured ‘Purples’, who employed much the same tactic, ensuring the North Street team remained one more season in the Manning Cup wilderness. 

On this occasion, KC again pushed forward in waves but goals from Shaquille Campbell (49th) and Dwayne Atkinson (72nd) ensured that there would be no repeat of that result as Jevoney Johnson (75th) minute strike counted as a mere consultation.

The result meant KC, who were defeated twice in the last three semi-finals, returned to the Manning Cup final for the first time in 18 years.

“We needed to take chances.  So our aim was to come here and attack, attack, attack, because we were confident in our defence.  We had a small lapse at the end but we were still confident of holding out,” Bernard said.

“I’m elated, I’m glad for the boys because they have really put in a lot of work for the last five months.  We came here with a never say die attitude and I told them fortune favours the brave.”

Kingston College (KC) made a return to the final of the ISSA Digicel Manning Cup for the first time in almost two decades, following a 2-1 win over St Andrew Technical (STATHS) at National Stadium on Tuesday.

The win was a bit of sweet revenge of sorts for KC who were beaten 2-1 STATHS in the semi-finals of the competition last year.  Having had the better of the play early on, it was the North Street-based team that took the lead in the 49th minute through Shaquille Campbell. 

Gaining possession of the ball just inside the area, Campbell managed to squeeze a quickly taken shot under the body of STATHS goalkeeper Jeadine White.

KC managed to double the lead in the 72nd minute after an attempted save that was spilt by White ended up on the boot of substitute Dwayne Atkinson, who tucked the ball into the net from close range off his own follow-up attempt.  Jevoney Johnson managed to pull one back for STATHS in the 75th minute but it proved to be a mere consolation effort.

Kingston College will look to claim the title for the first time in 32 years when they face rivals and neighbours St George’s who defeated Kingston College 2-1 in the day’s other final.

St Andrew Technical High School are a game away from a second semi-final berth in the ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup on the trot after beating Holy Trinity 1-0 at Stadium East thanks to a brilliant effort in the 40th minute from Marvin Emmanuel. 

As the second games in the Manning Cup quarterfinals took centre stage today, at least one team know they will take no further part in the competition after Wolmer’s Boys’ suffered their second defeat, losing 2-1 to defending champions Jamaica College (JC) at the Stadium East field on Saturday. 

Kingston College and St George’s are second and third in their ISSA/Digicel Manning Cup group after they played out a 0-0 draw at Stadium East on Saturday.

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