Flynn and O'Dwyer on course for magic treble
THEY may have had their dormant years, but Rockwell College are back with a bang and today at Thomond Park (2.0) they will run out for their fifth consecutive Munster Schools Senior Cup final determined to claim the crown for the third time in a row.
Impressively, they include 14 of last year's extended squad, including two – lock Neville Flynn and flanker Sonny O'Dwyer – chasing an incredible hat-trick of Senior Cup medals.
But if they are to achieve that remarkable feat (last done by CBC in 1998-2000), they will need to be at their very best to overcome a Crescent side back close to full strength and improving by the round.
Due to the nature of the qualifying rounds, the teams met in the opening series at Clanwilliam, with the Tipperary side coming out on top (15-5). But that was then and this is now.
Backboned by the Junior Cup winning squads of 2010 and 2011 and having beaten both Cork giants (Christians and Pres) since that opening round loss, the Dooradoyle School, led by outstanding captain and out-half Gearoid Lyons, has every reason to believe it can reverse that result now.
To have travelled to Cork and beaten CBC at the death (7-6) in the semi-final has instilled great confidence in a squad well capable of going the whole way.
Bear in mind, it was 1994 when the Munster Senior trophy last graced the Crescent showcase, so the sense of anticipation and excitement ahead of today's game is understandably high.
Lyons and international sprinter Greg O'Shea are the star turns behind, while Jack Dineen and Limerick hurler Diarmuid Dee are capable of wreaking havoc from the base of the scrum and tail of the line-out.
Rockwell have their own match-winner supreme in Rory Parata and since beating Crescent have gone the most direct route to today's final, accounting for Castletroy (25-7) and St Munchin's (13-6) at the penultimate stage in a repeat of last year's final.
The schools last met in the ultimate match in 1990 with Crescent coming out on top, but on the back of successive titles – allied to that first qualifying round win – Rockwell will be the pre-match favourites.
The prize is great, but so too the incentive for both schools. Expect less than 10 points between the sides this time, but given the prize and experience we take Rockwell to shade it and complete that much coveted three-in-a-row.
ROCKWELL COLLEGE – S McMahon; D O'Mahony, S O'Donoghue, R Parata, W Coffey; A Moynihan, B Riley; D O'Connell, S McNulty, J Maxwell; N Flynn, S O'Connor; J Feehan, S O'Dwyer, A Butler (capt).
CRESCENT COLLEGE – J Frawley; J O'Sullivan, JJ O'Neill, W Leonard, G O'Shea; G Lyons (capt), G Fitzgerald; S McGee, J Green, L McMahon; J Keane, R Scott; D Dee, J Kavanagh, J Dineen.
Rockwell College v Crescent College,
Live, Setanta Ireland, 2.0