HOLDERS Crescent College Comprehensive begin their quest to complete a three-in-a-row of SEAT Munster Schools Senior Cup wins for the first time in their history when the business end of the prestigious competition kicks off this week.
Crescent completed their first back to back success in the Senior Cup since 1990 last March when seeing off the determined challenge of local rivals Ardscoil Ris.
Holders Crescent College and 2014 finalists Ardscoil Ris are joined by three more Limericks sides, St Munchin’s College, Castletroy College and fancied Glenstal Abbey, in the last eight of this season’s Cup. The first round line-up is completed by traditional Cork heavyweights, PBC, pre-Cup favourites CBC and Tipperary rugby nursery Rockwell College.
Limerick schools have won the Cup on 10 occasions over the past 29 years. Crescent College have been successful on six occasions during that period, St Munchin’s College, five time winners of the Senior Cup, have won the Cup on three occasions over the past 13 years.
When Castletroy College claimed their first Senior Cup success in 2008, they became the first new name to be inscribed on the trophy in 40 years.
Ardscoil Ris will be looking to go one better than last season when the North Circular Road school made their first final appearance in 18 years, while Colm Tucker Limerick City Senior Cup winners Glenstal Abbey will quietly fancy their chances of enjoying an extended Cup run - and perhaps entertain quiet ambitions of winning the competition for the first time in their history.
A change in the competition format introduced in 2009 means the losers of next week’s first round ties will get a second chance to progress to the semi-final stage.
HOLDERS Crescent College open their defence of the title with a mouth-watering clash against pre-Cup favourites CBC at Clifford Park on Wednesday, January 28 at 3pm.
Crescent welcome back nine members of their successful squad of 2014, including four members of their starting line-up in exciting winger Calvin Nash, who has played for Munster and Ireland U-18 Schools, hooker and now captain Caolan Moloney, a member of the Munster U-19 development squad full-back Dylan Sheehan and flanker Sean Fitzgerald, who has also featured with the Munster U-19 development squad. Captain Moloney is a son of former Young Munster player and head coach, John.
An impressive 11 members of the Crescent College squad have played at representative level this season.
Once again coached by Garryowen’s Conan Doyle and Eugene McGovern, of Old Crescent, the Dooradoyle side are sure to be well prepared for their clash with Christians. The City Senior Cup finalists thumped CBC 39-0 in the opening round of last season’s competition, running in six tries, but the Cork side will provide formidable opposition this time round and won’t lack for motivation ahead of their latest trip to Limerick.
However, at odds of 6/1 to retain the Cup, especially given their winning mentality of recent seasons, Crescent look like a sporting bet.
TASTY CITY DERBY
Last season’s beaten finalists Ardscoil Ris will be looking to make a quick return to the final. Their opening round fixture on Wednesday, January 28 at Thomond Park (2pm) pits the North Circular Road side against old foes St Munchin’s College. Ardscoil edged out the Corbally rugby nursery in last year’s semi-final on an 11-7 scoreline.
Ardscoil have nine squad members back from 2014, including six starters in the Cup final line-up, winger Liam Brock, lock Darragh Ryan, centre Jack O’Donnell, flanker Jerry McCabe, prop Tom Walsh and scrum-half Diarmuid Scannell. The talented O’Donnell has played for Munster U-18 Schools this season, along with team captain Ty Chan and the exciting Ronan Coffey. The 20/1 odds available about Ardscoil lifting the Cup in March look over generous.
Opponents St Munchin’s have reached the semi-final at least for the past three seasons and were finalists in 2012 when losing narrowly 6-5 to Rockwell College.
St Munchin’s are captained by the exciting John Foley who was selected to train with the Irish Schools after performing impressively with the Munster School’s side. This young St Munchin’s side will look to the likes of Foley, Peter Meyer and Jordan Prenderville, all of whom started in the Senior Cup last year, to lead the pack. In the St Munchin’s backline, Briain Bennett, Josh O’Curry and Adam Guerin are the only three representatives from last year’s campaign.
After some disappointing results in early season friendlies, St Munchin’s have showed steady signs of improvement under the watchful eye of head coach Niall McDermott, who won a Leinster Senior Cup with Blackrock, as well as forwards coach Dave Quinlan, the former Shannon and the Irish Club selection captain as well as Alan Murnane, and Garry Quilligan an AIL winner with Garryowen in 1992,.
THE first round fixtures begin with a bang on Tuesday next when City Cup winners Glenstal face 2013 Junior Cup winners Castletroy College at Rosbrien on Tuesday, January 27 at 3pm.
Glenstal Abbey, the shortest priced of the Limerick sides to claim the Cup with the bookies at 10/3, booked their place in the first round with a hard-earned 16-5 play-off win over St Clement’s. The Murroe side is sure to benefit from the competitive outing.
Glenstal claimed a deserved success in the Colm Tucker Limerick City Senior Cup final when beating Crescent College Comprehensive 22-14 before Christmas.
Twelve of last year’s starting Senior Cup XV return to the Senior Cup squad and there are also seven interprovincial players from Munster and Connacht. Team captain Tim Costigan, who has played for the Connacht U-18s, forms a formidable midfield partnership with Connacht U-19 player Jamie McAleese. Out-half Jack Stafford and full-back Colm Hogan have played for the Munster U-18 side.
Castletroy have six members of their 2014 squad available once again. The side is captained by Ronan Murphy, who played on the flank and at number eight on last year’s side. Munster U-19 player Murphy forms an impressive back-row unit with Munster Schools player David Rowsome and Niall O’Shea, their 2013 Junior Cup winning captain. Centre Ronan McDonnell is a very classy runner, while the front row of Joey Conway (Munster Schools), Mark O’Mara (Irish Schools panel) and Conor Myers are retained from last year’s side. O’Mara is a nephew of Peter Clohessy. Tuesday’s clash will tell a lot about the merit of both sides Cup credentials.
SEVERAL Limerick sides go into the Cup still searching to find a degree of consistency.
The exception is Glenstal Abbey who will take confidence from their City Senior Cup final win. 2013 Junior Cup winners Castletroy will hope they can hit for, you can never discount St Munchin’s Cup pedigree and Ardscoil will take heart from last season. However, Crescent College look the best-placed Limerick side to mount the strongest bid for honours.