Munster Schools Junior Cup Final Preview - Crescent target the double

Crescent's  Sean Scanlon Garry loses the ball in this tackle in their drawn Munster Schools Junior Cup semi-final against CBC in Tom Clifford Park
CRESCENT College Comprehensive go in search of a third Munster Schools Junior Cup title in four seasons and a rare senior and junior cup double when they lock horns with Limerick rivals Castletroy College at Garryowen FCs Dooradoyle grounds later today Saturday (3pm).

CRESCENT College Comprehensive go in search of a third Munster Schools Junior Cup title in four seasons and a rare senior and junior cup double when they lock horns with Limerick rivals Castletroy College at Garryowen FCs Dooradoyle grounds later today Saturday (3pm).

Castletroy College, winners of the Senior and Junior Cup double in 2008, shocked a fancied Ardscoil Ris in the semi-final to reach this weekend’s showpiece decider.

Victory on Saturday would cap a terrific week for Crescent College. The Dooradoyle side regained the Munster Schools Senior Cup after a 19-year break when scoring a hugely impressive victory over hat-trick seeking Rockwell College at Thomond Park on Monday. Twenty four hours later Crescent’s junior cup side recovered from a huge 17-point half-time deficit to record a dramatic replay win over holders CBC at Musgrave Park.

Crescent College have been very impressive in their run to this weekend’s final. The 2010 and 2011 Cup winners boast a highly talented backline with the likes of captain, Calvin Nash, fellow centre Billy O’Hora, full-back Glen Dickinson and out-half Cian Clifford, who turned in a terrific display of goal-kicking against CBC on Tuesday, key figures. Talented scrum-half Jack Lyons is a brother of Crescent College’s Senior Cup winning captain, Gearoid.

Up front, Crescent boast plenty of rugby ability in the likes of prop Anson Thai, try-scorer from the semi-final win over CBC, Sean Scanlon-Garry, and back-row forwards Conor Sweeney and Peter Hickey. Second-row John Blake will be hoping to emulate the achievement of his older brother Cormac, who won a Senior Cup medal on Monday, while Joe Barry and Michael Mullins will also be hoping to add Junior Cup medals to the senior medals won by their brothers, Edmond and Gerard respectively.

Crescent College’s forwards’ coach, Declan Edwards said they were delighted with the resilience and character the side had showed in overturning the 17-point deficit they faced at half-time in Tuesday’s semi-final replay.

“We were delighted for the lads with the manner of their second half comeback against CBC,” Declan Edwards said.

“A huge amount of work has gone into this Cup run. We have been preparing since August, doing up to 90 sessions at this stage.

“Saturday’s final will be very tough. Castletroy beat Ardscoil Ris, many peoples favourites to win the Cup, in the semi-final. That was no mean feat

“With schools rugby, it is very difficult to say which side deserves to be favourites. It’s a 50-50 game on Saturday.

“When you get to a final, you don’t want to lose it. The carrot for our lads is to win a Junior Cup. We are not thinking about winning the double aspect of things. We are focused on our game.”

Castletroy College will be appearing in their third Junior Cup final in seven seasons. The Newtown school lost the decider to Pres’ in 2007, before turning the table on their Cork opponents 12 months later to complete their Senior and Junior Cup double.

Castletroy showed admirable grit and determination to overcome Ardscoil Ris, 7-3, in their semi-final at Dooradoyle.

A try from Darragh O’Neill, superbly converted by scrum-half Conor Fleming guided Castletroy to a sweet victory. Castletroy’s defence stood firm in the face of strong Ardscoil Ris pressure during the course of the game and the same resilience will be needed on Saturday if Castletroy are to deny Crescent’s, to date, potent attack. Castletroy’s back-row has been in outstanding form through their Cup campaign.

Try scorer from the semi-final win over Ardscoil, O’Neill - a stalwart of UL-Bohs under-age teams which have enjoyed back-to-back league and cup wins in recent seasons - is a fine prospect. Fellow back-row forwards David Rowsome and team captain Niall O’Shea have also been hugely influential figures in Castletroy’s return to the showpiece U-16 decider.

Hooker Mark O’Mara, nephew of former Munster and Ireland international prop, Peter Clohessy, is another bright prospect, who will hoping to exert a big influence in Saturday’s final. Behind the scrum, centre Ronan McDonnell is a classy player with ball in hand. Coupled with the running power of the likes of winger Sean McBrearty and highly regarded full-back, Oisin Kelly, Castletroy have the attacking power to trouble Crescent’s defence. Castletroy will be aware of the level of trouble Crescent had in trying to contain a rampant CBC side through the opening half of this week’s semi-final replay.

Declan English, of Castletroy College, said they were delighted to have reached this weekend’s final, insisting Crescent College will start as favourites to make it three wins in four years at this level.

“It is great for Limerick rugby to have two local teams in the final,” Declan English said.

“You could throw a blanket over the teams in the Cup this year given how little there has been between them. We have a very close, tight knit side, who work very hard. We are looking forward to Saturday’s final.”