Big three to be in final shakedown
Again this year the Connacht Schools Committee, under the enthusiastic chairmanship of Chris Davies, deserve enormous credit for the Schools Cup format they have put in place.
In 2014 they trialled a round robin Champions League-style initiative. The format was repeated last year when they were limited to five entrants, thereby guaranteeing a minimum of four competitive games to each. This proved successful and Garbally and Summerhill qualified for a humdinger of a final.
This year the number of schools in the main competition has doubled to ten, divided into two pools of five in the same round robin format. In the pre-Christmas Premier League, all bar Clifden and CBS Roscommon took part, with Sligo Grammar finishing top by a single point ahead of Garbally, with Colaiste Iognaid (the Jes) and Marist finishing level on points but third and fourth respectively.
Garbally and Marist will be expected to top Pool 1, which includes the ever-improving St Muredach's (four league wins from eight), Clifden CS and St Joseph's Galway (the Bish). In Pool 2 the Grammar as League champions can expect some severe tests from the Jes, St Gerald's, Summerhill and the CBS.
Having lost out to Garbally and Summerhill in last year's round robin, Sligo as reigning League champions are determined to chalk up another League and Cup double. The suspicion is that any one of six - Garbally, Marist, Jes, the Grammar, St Muredach's or Summerhill - could take it, but the smart money is on Marist, Garbally or Sligo Grammar. We too suspect the winner this time around to come from one of the big three.