Tony Ward's guide to Munster
(*Indicates players involved in last year's cup campaign)
ARD SCOIL RIS, LIMERICK
Founded in 1963, the North Circular Road school has already contributed much to the sporting life of Limerick city. Hurlers Ollie and Niall Moran, footballer John Galvin, Ireland rugby stars Paul O'Connell and Sean Cronin, Olympic rower Sam Lynch as well as European powerlifting champion Derek Daly have all passed through the hallowed halls of Ard Scoil Ris.
The school has contested one Munster Senior (1995) and four Munster Junior Cup finals, winning the then U-15 title outright in 2003 and '05.
On the GAA fields, they have lifted the Dean Ryan Cup in 2008 and, in 2010 to top the lot, the Dr Harty Cup for the first time when getting the better of Thurles CBS in the final.
Eamon Farrell was on that Harty Cup-winning team and is but one of 13 back from last year's senior rugby squad beaten by Pres and Rockwell -- the eventual finalists -- in the qualifying rounds. Peter McGann captains a side that includes Munster U-18 prop David Canny as well as provincial U-19 winger Jamie McGarry.
The draw has thrown up a difficult city derby against Crescent, with the winner going on to face either CBC or Castletroy in the second qualifying round and the loser fronting up to the winner of St Munchin's and Rockwell for a place in the semi-final.
Expect Ard Scoil to hit the ground running.
Coaches: Fergal Lyons (conditioning), Martin McPhail, Kevin Bracken and Kevin Long.
Last year: Beaten by PBC (16-3) and Rockwell (19-8) in qualifying rounds one and two.
Squad: *David Canny, *Rory Collins, *Shane Considine, *Gavin Doherty, *Eamon Farrell, Jamie Fitzgibbon, Cathal Flanagan, Conor Glynn, Sean Guerin, Luke Guinane, Gordon Harty, Peter Hodnett, Ciaran Hogan, Ronan Houlihan, Craig Irwin, Anthony Keane, Dylan Kelly, Alex Mac Namara, *Brian Masterson, Luke McGrath, *Conor Mc Loughlin, Eoin McCabe, *Peter McGann (capt), *Jamie McGarry, Andrew McGrath, Ronan McKenna, Liam McMahon, Conor Mulqueen, *Sean Noonan, Andrew O'Byrne, Evan O'Callaghan, Jack O'Connor, David O'Halloran, Darragh O'Shea, *Paul O'Sullivan, *Kevin Phelan, Ciaran Power, Cian Sheehan, Peter Reidy, Cormac Ryan and *Kevin Walsh.
CASTLETROY COLLEGE, LIMERICK
Just 10 years in existence and already with a Junior and Senior Cup double to their name. It is on the back of that Junior success in 2008 that hopes are high out Castletroy way.
John Staunton (brother of Jeremy) was coach alongside John Keehan (former Irish Schools winger) to that history-making '08 Senior side. These two combine again now with James Collins (former Munster Schools captain, and coach to the equally successful '08 Juniors) in a proven coaching combination.
Scrum-half Neil Cronin (brother of Ireland hooker Sean) was captain of that Junior Cup-winning side and will be at the helm again when leading the Seniors into action against Crescent on February 2. He is an emerging talent of whom much is expected.
The influential No 9 is one of 13 back from last year in a highly talented squad containing 12 cup winners from three years ago.
Cronin is also one of four U-19 inter-pros, the others being prop Keith Kennedy, lock David O'Brien and flanker Michael Dooley (brother of SCT-winning captain Paul and scorer of three tries in that JCT final).
Fellow flanker Conor Bonfil is goalkeeper for the Limerick county U-17s while hooker Liam Cronin is another in the Limerick rugby dynasty. Rugby's in the blood too, with Luke Clohessy following in the famous footsteps of uncle Ger and dad Peter. Like Crescent, it is still a relatively young Castletroy side but, despite being well beaten by the Dooradoyle School in an early-season friendly, the cup outcome is as hard to call as ever.
Coaches: John Staunton, John Keehan, James Collins and Brendan Colleran (conditioning), Pat Dundon (manager).
Last year: Beaten by Rockwell (12-10) in semi-final.
Squad: *Keith Kennedy, Tom Kelly, Brandon Foley Friel, Stephen Shinners, *David O'Brien, *Kelvin Reale, *David Butler, John Hourigan, *Darragh O'Brien, Gareth Carroll, Michael Dooley, *Conor Clancy, Conor Bonfil, *Enda Carroll, Liam Cronin, *Rowan Humphries, *Rory Lenahan, David Grant, John MacDonnell, Barry Neville, Conor Burns, Eoghan Clancy, Stephen Leddin,*Neil Cronin (capt), *Luke Clohessy, Sean Moran, *Andrew Fullen, *William Shanahan, Patrick Bermingham and Ben Burns.
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS COLLEGE, CORK
Having relinquished their '09 title to great rivals Pres last year, revenge is high on the agenda at Sidney Hill.
As ever, the big Cork two will be setting the pace again this year. Brian Hickey and Peter Melia head a squad that includes nine back from last year's group beaten in the qualifying rounds by Crescent and Castletroy.
Older and wiser and with representative players sprinkled throughout the side, they have size up front, nous at half-back and strength where in midfield.
Skipper Kevin Slater (brother of '09 medal winner Brian) has also led the Munster U-19s this season -- a provincial squad that included team-mates Conor Barry, Kieran Frost, Ciaran Keogh (son of former Dolphin and Munster stalwart Tom and brother of Tom Jnr who played in the 2007 final), Yasin Browne, Sean Glynn, Conor Scannell and Brendan Monohan.
In addition Dean Nolan, Charlie O'Regan (son of former UCC, St Mary's, Dolphin and Munster scrum-half Alex, also the scorer of the winning drop-goal to beat Pres in the 1980 final), Darragh McNamara, Cian O'Halloran and Ryan Foley were all centrally involved with the Munster U-18s, with O'Halloran also part of the national U-18 set up.
And another link with the recent past comes in the guise of Michael Ryan, whose brothers John and Willie played in the '07 and '09 finals respectively.
History and tradition, not to mention trophies in the cabinet, count on Leeside. At 28 titles apiece, this campaign is a big one.
Coaches: Brian Hickey, Peter Melia, Neil Lucey, Denis Lyons (conditioning) and Michael Cotter (physio).
Last Year: Beaten by Crescent (6-3) and Castletroy (14-11) in qualifying rounds one and two.
Squad: *Darragh McNamara, Sean Keohane, *Kevin Slater (capt), Stephen Quinlan, Breifne O'Callaghan, *Conor Barry, Daire Leahy, Barry Whelan, *Brendan Monohan, Rob Bevan, Mark Barrett, Jack Hogan, Dave O'Riordan, Michael Ryan, Tom Moorehead, *Cian O'Halloran, Barry Egan, Lorcan O'Regan, *Charlie O'Regan, Jack Hogan, Tim Whalley, Michael Lordan, Rob O'Dowling, Shane Burke, Eathan Ackland, Andrew Mintern, Rory Daly, Johnny McCarthy, Colin Martin, Jack Sullivan, Keifer O'Sullivan, Dylan Philpott, James Quirk, Connor Scannell, Kieran Frost,*Ciaran Keogh, Ian Whelan, *Sean Glynn, *Yasin Browne, Paul Ryan, Jack Walsh, Dean Nolan, Michael Killian, Ryan Foley, Charlie Slowey and Darragh Moloney.
CRESCENT COLLEGE COMP, LIMERICK
Junior Cup winners in 2010 (and with another hot side at that age level this year) signs are of some fruitful times ahead for the Dooradoyle school over the next few seasons.
That said, with six of the side U-17, ambition may be measured this time round. And yet recent results suggest a 2011 team well capable of mixing it with the best.
Sean Monaghan is captain of a squad that includes representative players in Jack Donovan, prop Niall Horan, Padraic Ryan, winger Paul O'Sullivan as well as Monaghan himself.
One name synonymous with Crescent rugby is Dinneen with Jack -- son of Len Jnr, and grandson of Limerick rugby Len Snr -- a member of the current squad.
Despite beating Christians in last year's qualifying round one, Crescent then bowed out to great city rivals St Munchin's on the narrowest of margins in qualifying round two. The disappointment of that defeat still rankles.
Former Garryowen and Ireland scrum-half Tom Tierney and former Crescent School and club prop Eugene McGovern are together still pulling the coaching strings.
Beat Ard Scoil in the opening round and they will face either Castletroy or CBC next up. Lose to the North Circular Road school and it either Rockwell or St Munchin's will be the opposition for a place in the semi-final. Either way it is a tough road ahead.
Coaches: Tom Tierney (head), Eugene McGovern and Dudley Herbert (manager).
Last year: Beaten by St Munchin's (11-10) in qualifying round two.
Squad: *Sean Monaghan (capt), *Jack Donovan, Brian Murphy, Joe Keays, Cormac O'Connor, Seaghan Gleeson, Brendan McSweeney, Ruairi Kavanagh, Joe Burke, Ronan O'Doherty, Niall Horan, Peter Liston, Adrian Hanley, Shane Stanley, Chris Buckley, Elliot Fitzgerald, Jack Dinneen, Nigel Kerr, Cian Scott, Padraic Ryan, Fergal Blake, Jack Wallis, Michael D'Arcy, Jack Sheehan, Jack Leahy, Mike McElligott, Sean McGee, Eoin Casserly, Greg Barry, James Frawley, Diarmuid Dee, Conor Beatty, Paul O'Sullivan and Karl Hanley.
GLENSTAL ABBEY, MURROE
If ever a school boxes above its weight on a regular basis it is Glenstal, so last year's defeat in the pre-competition qualifier (albeit to a particularly strong Bandon Grammar) hurt so much.
Qualification for the top-eight premier tournament is the bottom-line objective from one year to the next.
This year's Murroe side, coached by Young Munster and Shannon stalwarts Mike Prendergast and James Hickey, ensures a Co Limerick squad that scavenges for every scrap.
True to their tradition and backboned by fifth years, they are highly competitive, being most effective in the fringe exchanges at scrum, ruck and maul.
Versatile forward Dan Healy (equally at ease in the front-row or back) leads a unit that includes seven back from last year.
Healy is one of two representative players, having been involved with the Munster U-19s, while Shane Costigan has lined out with the U-18s in his native Connacht. Both have been injured of late but hope to be back for the cup.
They have too in wing Bill Connors that all-important cutting edge, while Andrew Devereux and Conor Kearns provide sensible direction at half-back.
The draw, however, has not been kind with Pres the imposing opposition in qualifying round one.
As ever they will be rank outsiders. Would they want it any other way?
Coaches: Mike Prendergast, James Hickey and Br Matthew Corkery (manager)
Last year: Beaten by Bandon (13-12) in preliminary round.
Squad: Keelan Bourke, *Bill Connors, Cormac Hayes, *Conor Kearns, *Cillian MacDonagh, Liam Egan, Stephen O'Donnell, *Kevin Prendergast, Luke Bradley, Jonathon Cleary, Charlie Clarke, Rob Shanahan, Sean Gleeson, Kieran Grennan, James Hanley, David Higgins, James Igoe, Kevin Lynch, Cal McCarthy, *Ian McCarthy, Michael O'Riordan, Gerald Quinn, James Ryan, Shane O'Reilly, *Noel Frisby, Blake Dunne, Dermot Dolan, Tom Ryan, Andrew Devereux, Ian Kennedy, *Dan Healy (capt), Shane Costigan.
PRESENTATION BROS COLLEGE, CORK
Reigning champions, with five from the Cup final squad and nine in total back from last year, Pres are again looking formidable as they set out in search of their first back-to-back titles since 1995 and '96.
Jack Duffy, Ross Caplice and Seamus Glynn started last year's final victory over Rockwell, while Killian Kingston and Ryan Murphy came on at loose-head prop and blind-side flanker respectively.
When breakaway flanker Duffy runs out against Glenstal on Sunday, February 6, he will be creating a remarkable piece of Munster schools rugby history, as it will be his fourth senior campaign due to the age change.
Duffy is one of eight representative players in the PBC squad. He is the lone representative in the U-19 and U-20 Munster squads, but front-rower Brian Scott, lock Ross McCarthy, back-rowers Will Foley and Murphy, midfield backs Rory Scannell and Glynn as well as wing/full-back Steve Dinan have all played for the province's U-18s.
Murphy (at No 8), Glynn, Scannell and Scott all wore the Ireland green in the recent U-18 international against England at Donnybrook.
Other squad members include James Kiernan (the powerful wing/centre son of Michael 'Mick the Kick' Kiernan), Mark O'Mahony (younger brother of fast developing Munster flanker Peter) and Brian Crowley (nephew of MEP Brian).
Front-rower Kingston is also an international bowler (in addition to being a next-door neighbour to Crystal Swing) while Scott, Chris Bannon and Tim Clifford are all inter-provincial cricketers. John Fitzgerald, just back after serious injury, is a member of the Cork minor hurling panel.
Put it all together under Peter Scott and Ireland Schools forwards coach Paul Barr and little wonder hopes are high of edging back ahead of Christians in the roll of honour.
Coaches: Peter Scott (head), Paul Barr, Enda Ronan, Darren Sexton, Marian Carey (conditioning) and Steve Forde.
Last year: Winners.
Squad: Christopher Bannon, Josh Barrett, Colin Buckley, *Ross Caplice, Tim Clifford, Brian Crowley, Cormac Crowley, Robert Cuppage, Paul Derham, Steven Dinan, Fergal Dinneen, Alex Donnelly, *Jack Duffy (capt), David Evans, Kieran Farmer, Barry Fitzgerald, John Fitzgerald, *William Foley, *Seamus Glynn, David Hartnett, David Horgan, *Adam Hudson, Denis Keohane, James Kiernan, *Killian Kingston, Dylan Malone, Ross McCarthy, Rory McLaughlin, *Eamonn Mills, Niall Murphy, *Ryan Murphy (Captain),Lloyd O'Brien, Rory O'Connell, Ian O'Donoghue, Craig O'Driscoll, Dearan O'Flynn, Hugh O'Halloran, Darragh O'Keefe, Mike O'Leary, Philip O'Leary, Jeff O'Mahony, Mark O'Mahony, Eoghan O'Riain, Daniel O'Sullivan, Rory Prendeville, Stephen Randles, Michael Russell, Rory Scannell, *Brian Scott, Ian Silke, Ian Smith, Brian Treacy and Darragh Williamson.
ROCKWELL COLLEGE, TIPPERARY
With four final appearances in the opening decade of the 21st century, Rockwell is back at the top table of Munster Schools Rugby.
The Holy Ghost college has once again a major say in the title destination as Tipperary bids for a place in the St Patrick's Day final for the third year running against the best either of the big two -- Cork or Limerick -- can offer.
And despite having to play in the qualifier (against Bandon or Midleton), this is a squad armed in all the right areas to go the whole way. What is it they say about losing? That in order to appreciate winning you've first got to experience that gut-wrenching feeling.
Well Rockwell have twice paid that price in recent times.
Munster Schools prop Cian O'Donnell captains a powerful squad with 16 back, including seven stuffed to the gills with that sickly feeling from last year.
Add to that nine Munster representatives plus a Mexican Sevens international and the quiet optimism around Cashel is well founded.
In addition to O'Donnell, lock Sean McCarthy (nephew of Michael Galwey), flanker Richard Moran, talented No 8 Luke Cahill, scrum-half Brian Haugh, centres Harry McNulty and Killian Kiely, wing Shaun Horgan and full-back Donagh McGillycuddy have all worn Munster red.
McCarthy was one of the standout players in the Christmas U-18 international with England. Apart from his rugby-playing ability the Kerry native is an Irish basketball international and Irish shot putt gold medalist. The other international comes in the guise of Jose Arce Bayonne.
It's the 10th anniversary of their last outright success. It's going to take some side to beat them.
Coaches: Mark Butler (head), Kevin Leamy, Tom Mulcahy, Frank Fitzgerald, Anthony Smith (manager), Fran Mulcahy (physio) and Daire Higgins.
Last year: Beaten by Pres (22-10) in final.
Squad: *Cian O'Donnell (capt), *MJ Murphy, *Eddie Phelan, Willie O'Dwyer, David Kennedy, Jose Arce Bayonne, *Billy Duggan, Owen Feeney, Conor Campion, Kenny Rogers, Michael Fitzgerald, Robbie Lyons, Darragh Mulcahy, *Sean McCarthy, *Aidan O'Sullivan, Brendan Crosse, Neville Flynn, Aidan Butler, Darragh Foley, Jack McCormack, Paul Kennedy, *Richard Moran, Aaron Sweeney, Sonny O'Dwyer, Cathal Ryan, Louis Dwan, *Luke Cahill, *Brian Haugh, Luke McGrane, Conor Moloughney, Aidan Barron, David Hannigan, *Conor Holland, David Johnston, *Harry McNulty, *Killian Kiely, Coleman Kennedy, Sean O'Donoghue, *Andrew Wallace, *Shaun Horgan, Rob Jermyn, Ronan Maher, Alex Lynch, Kevin Maher, Eoin McKenna, Robert Breedy, Simon Brennan, Greg Henry, *Matthew Hynes and *Donagh McGillycuddy.
ST MUNCHIN'S COLLEGE, LIMERICK
It's now five years since Keith Earls strutted his stuff and the Schools Senior Cup came back to Corbally. And with three wins in four final appearances in seven years they're longing for another golden era at this great rugby nursery.
Much like Clongowes in Leinster, Munchin's tend to play their cards close to their chest, keeping well under the radar in the opening term.
True to form, results have been mixed in the opening segment to the season. That said when you expect to be running out in the opening round (most probably against Rockwell) with nine back from last year and with the same number of representative players, then you know you are in with a fighting chance.
Should Rockwell beat the Section B School in the qualifier, as we expect they will, then the clash between Tipperary's finest and Munchins looks the tie of the round.
Munster U-19 Eamon Carr (dad Maurice was on the '77 team) captains a side including other representative players in Paul Curtis, Shane Gavin, Daniel Montgomery, Evan Mulcahy, Cormac Murphy and not forgetting trouble on the treble in the guise of triplets Darren, Evan and Gavin Ryan (sons of the inimitable Young Munster lock Ray).
John Broderick (at the helm in '06) continues to point the way along with former Blackrock College Cup-winning coach Niall McDermott and Donal Madden, while Philip Horan (brother of Marcus) is team manager.
It took a semi-final replay for eventual winners PBC to see off Munchin's last year and despite the tough opening draw, with so many back from that beaten semi-final squad they are well primed to give it another real blast this time round.
The only downside is that for the loser against Rockwell most likely Pres awaits. Put simply Rockwell v Munchins ... the winner takes it all.
Coaches: John Broderick, Niall MacDermott, Donal Madden and Philip Horan (manager).
Last year: Beaten by Pres (30-3) in semi-final replay.
Squad: Conor Barry, David Byrne, *Eamonn Carr, Dylan Clohessy, Mikey Clancy, Mel Corbett, Ciaran Cunnane, *Paul Curtis, Brian Danagher, Stephen Frawley, *Shane Gavin, Dan Goggin, Gearoid Heelan, Shane Houlihan, Eoghan Kelly, Kevin Larkin, Shane Madden, Padraig Maguire, Sean Markham, Craig McCallum, Pearse McCarthy, David McNamara, *Barry McNamara, Matthew McSweeny, Bill Molloy, Gareth Morgan, Diarmuid Morrissey, Daniel Montgomery, *Evan Mulcahy, *Cormac Murphy, Cian Naughton, Lee Nicholas, Ben Nugent, Cormac O'Donnell, Fiachra O'Donnell, Tom O'Neill, Gerard Powell, Cian Ryan, *Darren Ryan, *Evan Ryan, *Gavin Ryan, James Savage, Gavin Sheehan, David Staunton and David Wallace, Ben Drew
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