With the 2016 Munster Schools Senior Cup kicking off today, Colm Kinsella looks forward to the action.
First up is the clash of perennial challengers Crescent and CBC who meet in Thomond Park on Tuesday at 3pm. That game is preceded by the Junior Cup meeting between the same schools and that is a feature of this year’s cup competitions with the same draw applying to both and double headers taking place across the province in the opening round this week.
This year, ten teams are taking part in the competition proper with Bandon and St Clement’s joining the established schools – reigning champions Rockwell, Cork duo CBC and PBC and Limerick’s five regular competitors Ardscoil Ris, Crescent, Castletroy College, St Munchin’s and Glenstal Abbey.
The five winners from the opening rounds will be guaranteed a quarter-final place with four of the beaten sides playing off in a qualifying game next week. One of the beaten sides will be a lucky loser and also be given a quarter-final spot. After this week’s round of games the competition becomes straight knockout.
Castletroy College, the 2013 Junior Cup winners, open their campaign on Wednesday against 2015 surprise packets Glenstal Abbey at Dooradoyle.
The exciting Castletroy College side won the City Cup before Christmas edging past this week’s Senior Cup opponents Glenstal in the final.
Reliable play-maker Jamie Heuston is one of more than a dozen Castletroy players back from the 2015 Senior Cuo side.
They will also look to inspirational captain Niall O’Shea, hooker Mark O’Mara an interprovincial winner with Munster Schools last year, along with prop Joey Conway and winger Muiris Rowsome.
Castletroy will also look to the likes of representative players, number 8 Alan Fitzgerald and second row Dylan Reeves-Wasik to lift them.
Glenstal Abbey beat Castletroy College in the earlier rounds of the City Cup and wil be anxious to emulate their Cup run of 2015 when the Limerick side reached the semi-finals.
In captain Jack Stafford, Glenstal have a classy player who is one of nine survivors from2015. Stafford has played for Munster at U-19 level, while Johnny Williams and Mark Fleming have representative the province at U-18 level.
Finalists for the past two seasons, Ardscoil Ris will be fiercely determined to finally make 2016 their year. Captain Peader Collins is one of 11 players back from 2015.
Ardscoil’s survivors also include classy out-half Conor Fitzgerald, a brother of Munster player Stephen.
Conor Fitzgerald has played for Munster at U-19 level along with captain Collins and Nathan Randles. Ronan Coffey, Pa Ryan, Ian Brown and Odhran Ring have played for Munster U-18s.
As in 2015, Ardscoil kick-off their campaign with a derby clash with St Munchin’s College. Ardscoil won the all-Limerick tie 12 months ago.
St Munchin’s can call upon 10 members of their 2015 side. The squad, captained by the highly rated Adam Moloney and coached by Dave Quinlan, also includes, Irish U-18 and Munster Schools players Charlie Carmody and Aaron Rice, while Marcus Browne has played at Munster Schools level.
After back-to-back wins in 2013 and 2014, Crescent College’s hat-trick bid was derailed by Glenstal Abbey at the quarter-final stage last year.
Crescent have assembled a heavyweight backroom team this time round, with head coach Eugene McGovern and assistant coaches Conan Doyle and Barry O’Mahony.
Crescent have lost the Junior Cup decider for the past three seasons, so their squad won’t lack for motivation. The Dooradoyle side, captained by exciting centre Calvin Nash, have nine survivors from 2015.
Captain Nash and scrum-half Jack Lyons played for Irish Schools last year, while Bailey Faloon, Glen Dickinson, Billy O’Hora played for Munster U-18s and John Blake, Jack Henchy, Daniel Hurley, Aaron Cosgrove and Conor Phillips played for the province at U-18 level.
St Clement’s face PBC on Wednesday next at Rosbrien, with the Limerick side coming through the qualifier section. St Clement’s are in bonus territory, but the side captained by Nathan Clancy and coached by Shane Mullally and Brian Downey can ruffle a few feathers in the coming months.
Betting: Castletroy College 6/4; CBC 9/4; Crescent College Comp 11/4; PBC 4/1; Ardscoil Ris 8/1; Rockwell College 10/1; Glenstal Abbey 33/1; St Munchin’s College 40/1; Bandon Grammar 50/1.