Formidable Christians can go all the way

Wed, Jan 21, 2009, 00:00

MUNSTER SCHOOLS' SENIOR CUP: THE 2009 Avonmore Milk Munster Schools’ Senior Cup breaks from tradition for the first time in the competition’s 100-year existence with the introduction of a back-door system – the vote for change receiving a significant backing from most but not all schools last May.

Following the success of a similar system introduced for the Junior Cup three years ago, it’s hoped the new format at senior level can offer teams a viable second chance but also that the cup doesn’t lose any of its magical quality. That was in abundance last season when relative newcomers Castletroy College (founded in 2000), swept all before them, beating the top three colleges in the roll of honour – Rockwell, PBC and CBC – to claim their first title. They capped quite a year when adding the Junior Cup a few weeks later.

Castletroy’s emergence has brought added colour to the cup but they’ll find it hard to retain the title with just three remaining members of last year’s team in situ. Peter Murray, Darren Moroney and Stephen Murphy are the survivors but they’ve other star performers in captain Darragh Hannan and Munster U-18 representatives, Kevin Doyle, James Rael and Padraig O’Connor.

Rockwell are their opposition in round one and, while perennially struggling for numbers, they possess some talented individuals capable of turning games. Shane Buckley is an Ireland Schools secondrow, Patrick Butler was on the same team last year, and this season the number eight was joined on the Munster Under-19s by impressive centre Brian Smith, tight head prop Brendan Cullinane and winger, Gavin Ryan.

The glamour first round tie is surely the meeting of CBC and St Munchin’s. Three years ago they clashed in the Junior Cup final with Christians emerging victorious and many of those players have come through to senior ranks. St Munchin’s key players include Ger Burke, Robert Guerin and Craig O’Hanlon, while Christians look a better-balanced outfit this year – though friendly results have been largely inconsistent.

Coached by Peter Melia and former Munster forwards coach Brian Hickey, and complemented by Munster legend John Kelly, Brian Hayes is their star man, and 100 years after lifting the first Munster Senior title, CBC could bring perfect symmetry to the record books by going all the way again this year.

Cork rivals, Pres, might have something to say about that. Declan Kidney’s son, Kevin, is expected to start at outhalf, while number eight Bryan Carroll, secondrow David O’Mahony and loosehead Niall Scannell add physicality and experience to a cohesive pack.

Crescent College Comprehensive have the Ireland Schools outhalf Gareth Quinn-McDonagh and utility back Ben Sargent in their ranks and will be competitive, Ard Scoil could struggle, while Glenstal have made significant progress in recent seasons, and buoyed by their Limerick City Cup final win over St Munchin’s, are many people’s dark horses for ultimate honours. So, who’ll lift the title on March 15th? It could be Glenstal, Pres look dangerous, St Munchin’s will have a strong say, but it should be Christians.

Team-by-team guide

ARD SCOIL RÍS

Coaches: Niall Dennehy, Francis Broderick Representative players: Munster Schools U-18: Cian O’Shea Captain: David Rowley Pre-Cup record: mixed Roll of Honour: none Last season: quarter-final: lost to CBC.

CASTLETROY COLLEGE

Coaches: John Staunton, John Keehan, Eamonn Mulcahy Representative players: Munster Schools U-19: Darren Moroney, Stephen Murphy Munster Schools U-18: Peter Murray, Kevin Doyle, James Rael, Padraig O’Connor Captain: Darragh Hannan Pre-Cup record: P 15 W 5 D 3 L7 Roll of Honour: One (holders) Last season: quarter-final: beat Rockwell, semi-final: beat PBC, final: beat CBC.

CHRISTIAN BROTHERS COLLEGE

Coaches: Peter Melia, Brian Hickey, Alan Hickey, John Kelly, Billy Holland, Darragh Hurley Representative players: Munster Schools U-18: Darragh Dunne, Kieran Stokes Munster Schools U-19: Brian Hayes, Brian Slater Munster U-20s: Brian Hayes Captain: Brian Hayes Pre-Cup record: P13 W7 D1 L5 Roll of Honour: 27 (last in 2003) Last season: quarter final: beat Ard Scoil semi-final: beat Glenstal.

CRESCENT COLLEGE COMPREHENSIVE

Coaches: Chris Cullinane, Tommy Tierney, Eugene McGovern Representative players: Munster Schools U-18: Gareth Quinn-McDonagh, Ben Sargent, Gavin Herbert, John Randles, Jack Flannery, Tommy Ryan Jurgen Quinlivan. Munster Schools U-19: Aran Healy Brian Downey Ireland Schools U-18: Gareth Quinn-Mc Donagh, Ben Sargent Captain: Aran Healy Pre-Cup record: Played 15 Won 10. Tour — Northern Italy Roll of Honour: 9 (last in 1994) Last season: quarter final: lost to Glenstal.

GLENSTAL

Coaches: Paul McMahon, Patrick Collins, James Hickey, Greg Ashe, Denis Hooper (manager) Representative players: Munster Schools U-18: Dan Costello Munster Schools U-19: Duncan Casey Mike O’Flynn Captain: Duncan Casey Pre-Cup record: mixed Roll of Honour: None Last season: quarter-final: beat Crescent semi-final: lost to CBC

PBC, CORK

Coaches: Don Buckley, Paul Barr, Steve Forde. Representative players: Munster Schools U-18: Ian Mullarkey, David O’Mahony, Bryan Carroll, Conail Murphy, Jack Costigan. Munster Schools U-19: Kevin Kidney, Johnny McCarthy Ireland Schools (U-18): Niall Scannell, David O’Mahony, Bryan Carroll Captain: Niall Scannell Pre-Cup record: Played 11 Won 6 Roll of Honour: 27 (last in 2007) Last season: quarter-final: beat St Munchin’s semi-final: lost to Castletroy.

ROCKWELL

Coaches: Mark Butler, Tom Mulcahy, Fergus Timmons Representative players: Munster U-18: Shane Buckley, Ethen Aherne Munster U-19: Patrick Butler, Brian Smith, Brendan Cullinane, Gavin Ryan Ireland Schools (U-18): Shane Buckley Captain: Patrick Butler Pre-Cup record: P17 W9 D2 L6 Roll of Honour: 23 (last in 2001) Last season: quarter-final: lost to Castletroy.

ST MUNCHIN’S COLLEGE

Coaches: Jason O’Brien, David Quinlan Representative players: Munster Schools U-18: John Sherin, Aran O’Brien, Mike Madden Munster Schools U-19: Ger Burke, Robert Guerin, Sean Duggan, Cathal O’Neill Craig O’Hanlon, Declan Browne. Irish Schools (U-18): Aran O’Brien Captain: Ger Burke Pre-Cup record: mixed Roll of Honour: 5 (last in 2006) Last season: quarter-final: lost to PBC

Munster Draw

(Kick-offs 3pm unless specified): Quarter -final Round 1: Match A: Rockwell v Castletroy, Clonmel RFC, Jan 28 Match B: CBC v St Munchin’s, Musgrave Park, Jan 28 Match C: PBC v Ard Scoil Ris, tbc Match D: Glenstal v Crescent College Comprehensive, tbc Quarter-final Round 2 (10/11/12 Feb): Match 1: Winners A v Losers B, Match 2: Winners B v Losers C Match 3: Winners C v Losers D Match 4: Winners D v Losers A Semi-finals (1st and 4th March): 1 v 3 2v 4 Final – Mar 15