Glenstal Abbey seek fairytale finale

GLENSTAL Abbey will hope to continue their fairytale season in the Avonmore Milk Munster Schools Senior Cup this Sunday when they face competition heavyweights Christian Brothers' College (CBC) of Cork in the semi-final stage at Clanwilliam RFC.

Glenstal Abbey reached the last four stage for the first time in 9 years, thanks to a thrilling 6-5 quarter-final win over Crescent College Comprehensive.

Out-half Mike O'Flynn proved the Glenstal hero when he landed the match winning penalty goal from all of 45 metres out in second half stoppage time.

As well as their narrow victory over Crescent College, Glenstal also benefited from their hard fought win over Midleton College in a previous round.

The Murroe side have 9 'survivors' from last seasons's Senior Cup squad.

Five squad members played for Munster 'A' schools this season, including prop Duncan Casey, centre Finbarr Kearney, who was also called up to the Munster U-18 schools squad, full-back Ben Bradley, Cathal Hughes and out-half O'Flynn.

Locks Theo Lambton and Chris O'Connor were others to excel in the quarter-final win over Crescent College.

Hot Favourites

CBC will enter the game as hot favourites, boasting a powerful squad which includes 9 'survivors' from the 2007 panel which lost out in the Cup final to old foes, PBC.

CBC have eight representative players in their ranks, including the likes of Billy O'Regan, Joe Holland, son of Jerry and brother of 2003 cup winner, Billy, as well as Laurence Coughlan, brother of Munster flanker James.

Glenstal Abbey coach, Paul McMahon, an All-Ireland League medal winner with Shannon in '98 as a centre, said it was vital that the players get their mental application right in Sunday's clash which has a 3pm kick-off.

"In one way the pressure is off because no one would have expected us to reach the semi-finals," Paul McMahon said.

"At the start of the year our goal was to make it through to the quarter-finals. Anything after that was deemed to be a bonus.

"But we are looking for a big performance from the lads on Sunday. We know thy won't be found wanting in the fitness and physicality aspects of our play. But we need to get our mental application right.

"I don't want guys to be over-awed. None of them will have experienced playing Senior Cup rugby at this level before. In the lead-up to the match I have not focused on CBC at all. The build-up is about getting our guys right and if we do that the result will look after itself.

"We have a very young side. The average age of the team is probably sixteen-and-a-half or seventeen.

"Our forwards will be conceding weight to their opposite numbers in the CBC pack. We have a small number of players to select from, a squad of about 24 or 25 drawn from fourth, fifth and sixth years.

"The bigger schools at this level would probably have a squad of 50 or 60 to select their squad from.

"We try and play a 15-man game. At the start of the season we didn't use a ball in training. We wanted to develop ball handling skills and improve them in the pressure situation of cup rugby. Teams at this level of rugby rely on kicking the ball too much."

Assistant Coach

McMahon, who also won several Munster Senior Cup medals with Shannon, was assistant coach to the club's AIL winning side of 2002.

The Glenstal Abbey backroom team also includes assistant-coach and forwards coach Patrick Collins, former schools senior cup winner with St Munchin's College, Ger Slattery, who is the team's line-out coach, while school principal, Br Denis Hooper is team manager and Greg Ashe is the fitness coach.

Paul McMahon said rugby is on a high was on a high in the Murroe school at present.

"Our junior team won six games in the Cup, including gaining an extra-time win over Rockwell, before losing out last week," Paul McMahon said.

"Of our current Senior Cup squad, about 60% are under-age again next season. From speaking to Br Hooper it is obvious that several past pupils have been on to the school from all over Europe congratulating them on the quarter-final win and wishing the team the best of luck on Sunday."


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