A “HEALTHY respect”, a “friendly rivalry”, an “excellent relationship”. All terms used to describe the dynamic between Ardscoil Ris and Crescent College Comprehensive.
Come Monday 3pm this St Patrick’s Day, as the schools face each other for the first time in the Munster Schools Senior Cup Final, those friendly feelings may be put to one side, just for a day.
For Crescent it is a chance to retain the title they won last year against Rockwell. For Ardscoil it is a first final - and second only in the school’s 51-year history - since losing to PBC in 1996.
The teams know each other well, having faced each other in a junior cup final three years ago, with Crescent the victors that day.
“There is great excitement, but we are just trying to maintain things as normal, school life goes on,” said Ardscoil principal Brid de Brun. “We are trying to keep it as low-key as possible. It will gather momentum as the week goes on.”
In Crescent, principal Nicky Cuddihy was revelling in the school’s success, with the hockey teams and junior rugby team all vying for titles too.
“There is great excitement,” he explained. “Our girls are in the senior hockey final on Friday, so practically every fifth and sixth year are involved in some way in the build-up.”
The Comp principal paid tribute to Ardscoil.
“Ardscoil are a great school, their achievements in the Harty Cup haven’t gone unnoticed. We would respect them, they are a fabulous school,” he said.
“We know we are up against a quality side, we are not fooled. They are not here by accident, they are a terrific side and we will have to play our very best rugby to beat them.”
Ardscoil faced a PBC side in 1996 that contained future Munster stars Peter Stringer and Mick O’Driscoll. On the bench that day was Mossy Lawlor, a coach of the Ardscoil senior team this year. He said this week of the upcoming clash that “even the coaches are friends”.
“I played with Conan (Doyle) and Eugene (McGovern) coming up through the years. There are a lot of ties, players on both sides who would hang out together in Kilkee during the summer. Come 3pm on Monday there will be no friends until 5pm.
“That is the beauty of rugby. Once you take the pitch you are enemies, but once you get off it, you are best mates again. Everyone knows the difference between which is which,” he added.
Brid de Brun said there was “an excellent relationship between all of the schools in Limerick”.
“There is very close co-operation between the schools in the organisation of fixtures and supporters - we see a lot of the hype between students and that is part of being a student,” she said. “It is a great occasion, not just for the schools in Limerick, but also for the clubs and for sport in Limerick as well. What is most important is that it is a good game of rugby, the supporters enjoy it and that is fosters a love of sport and supporting your own school. Of course the win is important as well,” she added.
The spirit of friendship is shared by their rivals, but only to a point, Mr Cuddihy explained.
“We hope for a great game and a great occasion for the city - and a one point win for the Comp!”