Leinster Schools Senior Cup: St Michael’s gunning for Blackrock

Blackrock going for three in a row but rivals start competition as favourites

A very distinct pattern has emerged in Leinster schools rugby with Blackrock or St Michael's College constantly leading the way. In 2015 St Michael's College are favourites to capture the Senior Cup with two particularly outstanding players in James Ryan and Max Deegan leading a massive pack of forwards.

Blackrock, who start their campaign against Terenure College, are looking for a three in a row. The last time that was the case was in 1997 when Brian O'Driscoll's team were beaten in the semi-final by Gordon D'Arcy's Clongowes.

Peter Smyth's latest group are a young side but should include the sons of former Ireland internationals Paul Dean and Brendan Mullin. Success for St Michael's would give them only their third title, the first coming as recently as 2007 before Dan Leavy's excellent crop saw off Clongowes Wood and the Byrne brothers (Bryan and Ed) in 2012.

Superb crop

Since then Blackrock have added their 67th and 68th cups with a superb crop, best exemplified by three of last year’s forwards –

READ MORE

Nick Timoney

, David O’Connor and Conor Oliver – already lining out for St Mary’s College RFC in the All-Ireland league. It’s a more serious business than ever before.

St Michael’s have what, in theory, should be a tough opening assignment against St Mary’s. But it won’t be.

Another interesting opening-round tie has Belvedere facing Gonzaga.

It’s also worth noting that most matches will take place on Donnybrook’s new all-weather 4G surface. For starters, there won’t be any postponements when the February weather blows in. “I’ve played on it twice with the A’s and enjoyed it much more,” said Leinster scrumhalf Luke McGrath whose St Michael’s outfit lost the 2010 final to Clongowes.

“When it’s wet you are still able to throw the ball around but when it is dry it is really quick. It’s going to really showcase the speed and skills of schools rugby.”

This year’s final takes place at the RDS on St Patrick’s Day.

St Michael’s are also the team charged with stopping Blackrock from capturing three in a row at junior level.

The Blackrock and Clongowes game is a tasty opening-round tie in early February, with Terenure, also genuine contenders, starting out against the King’s Hospital.

DRAW

Fr Godfrey Cup

High School (BYE)

Scoil Chonglais (BYE)

Skerries Community College v CBC Monkstown

St Andrews College v St Fintans

Maynooth v CUS

Templeogue College v De La Salle, Churchtown

Wesley College v Newpark

CBS Naas v St Patricks Classical School

Junior Schools Cup

Belvedere College v St Gerards School

Fr Godrey Qualifier 2 v St Michael’s College

Castleknock College v Fr Godrey Qualifier 1

Terenure College v Kings Hospital

Cistercian, Roscrea v St Marys College

Gonzaga v Newbridge College

Kilkenny College v Presentation College Bray

Clongowes Wood College v Blackrock College

Vinnie Murray Cup

CBS Enniscorthy (BYE)

Templeogue College (BYE)

Kings Hospital v Gorey Community School

Presentation Bray v St Patrick’s Classical School

St Columbas College v St Fintan’s

The High School v Skerris Community College

Tullow Community School v Castleknock College

Wilson’s Hospital School v St Gerards School

Senior Schools Cup

Wesley College v Roscrea

Kilkenny College v Newbridge College

Gonzaga College v Belvedere College

Vinnie Murray Qualifier 1 v St Andrews College

Clongowes Wood College v Vinnie Murray Qualifier 2

Terenure College v Blackrock College

St Michael’s College v St Mary’s College

CUS v CBC Monkstown

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey

Gavin Cummiskey is The Irish Times' Soccer Correspondent