The quarter-finals of the Munster Schools Senior Cup take place this week - Steven Miller looks at the teams after the first week of action.
The Munster Schools Senior Cup is now down to the knockout stages. Steven Miller profiles all the teams after an eventful first round of games
The reigning champions ran in six tries on their way to recording a 39-0 win over CBC in Rosbrien last Wednesday and they couldn’t have made a more emphatic statement that they mean business once again this season.
They completely overwhelmed CBC and the result was never in doubt as three early tries - two from impressive second-row Robert Scott and one from captain Cormac Blake - helped them into a 22-0 lead after just 22 minutes.
But apart from the try scorers they have quality all over the field. Mike O’Donnell, Johnny Keane and Liam McMahon are all powerful operators up front while true to Crescent’s tradition, they also have an exceptional backline. Calvin Nash has stepped up seamlessly from last year’s junior team and is a fine player on the wing while the centre partnership of Munster U-19 JJ O’Neill and Will Leonard are both great broken-field runners.
Maintaining expectations will be the challenge for their management now and they’ll need to tread carefully against PBC next week. Still they deserve to be favourites and it will take a very good side to be at them.
Odds: 13/10 (courtesy of www.paddypower.com)
We were a bit surprised to see Ardscoil installed as favourites before the competition given their continuous absence from the business end of the Cup in recent years.
But they’ve been in two Junior finals in recent years and they’ve a very healthy representation on Munster Schools teams this season - at U-18 and U-19 level. Kelvin Brown, Jerry McCabe and Shane Fenton are all impressive operators up front while you get the feeling that their backline could do serious damage on a dry day - something they didn’t get in their opening round win over Glenstal.
Stephen Fitzgerald is their biggest name at full-back while outhalf David O’Mahony was the best kicker on display in the opening round of games. Jack O’Donnell and Brion Moriarty are also dangerous out wide. They should be able to beat CBC in their quarter-final - given how poor the Cork side were against Crescent - but they’ll need to improve considerably from their first round showing if they’re to put a run together and justify their short-priced status.
Rarely have any side gone down as badly as CBC did against Crescent last week. They can’t be as bad again but they do have to play away again and that could be their undoing.
Rob Penney’s son Alex is their Number 8 but they’ll need a big improvement all round if they’re to reach the last four. Their odds don’t look one bit tempting.
The Newtown school caused the shock of the round when they beat Rockwell in Clanwilliam, a brilliant try from John Fox proving to be the winning score.
Can they repeat that form? Are they a decent bet to go on and win the Cup for the first time since 2008. Fox is one obvious star but Ronan Murphy, Jack O’Neill, Mark McCarthy, David Rowesome and Conor Linehan are all very talented players too. They’ll need to have their wits about them to beat a very game Glenstal side next Tuesday but they’ve five members of last year’s junior cup winning side and they’re developing a nice winning habit over the last two seasons. Keep their heads and they should make the last four.
They played out a hard-fought draw with St Munchin’s last week but were deemed losers as Munchin’s got the first try. The upshot is they must travel for the quarter-final and it’ll be an interesting game between themselve and Crescent. John Poland is a good kicker and Cian Collins is a flier on the wing but they’ll need to up their game big time if they’re to upset Crescent.
They’ll feel they still have plenty to offer the competition despite losing to Castletroy last week. The school have been in each of the last four finals so they can’t be discounted easily. Having a man sent off against Castletroy obviously didn’t help their cause while they can also point to a wonder try leading to their loss.
That mightn’t happen again. In Aidan Moynihan they have a quality kicker and they’re the one side that all the winning teams wanted to avoid. Could yet have a major say.
St Munchin’s showed typical resilience when drawing with PBC in Musgrave Park last week but thanks to Shane Halpin’s try (the first of the game) they were deemed winners and so have home advantage in the quarter-final.
The draw wasn’t kind to them though, as they were paired with Rockwell, the school that have ended their hopes in each of the last two seasons. Centre Edward O’Keeffe and hooker Luke O’Halloran played in the final two years ago and their odds of 16/1 are an insult to their proud record in the competition.
Despite their small numbers, the Murroe boarding school always punch above their weight and were ultra competitive against Ardscoil Ris last week before going down by four points.
Number 8 Neilus Mulvihill, outhalf Jack Stafford and full-back Colm Hogan are all fine players and they’ll quietly fancy themselves to upset Castletroy in Tuesday’s quarter-final.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 11
Castletroy v Glenstal Abbey. Venue TBC
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 12
Crescent v PBC; Ardscoil Ris v CBC. Both venues TBC
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13
St Munchin’s v Rockwell. Venue TBC