Tony Ward's Munster school-by-school guide
ARDSCOIL RíS, LIMERICK
Forever the bridesmaid but never the bride. Don't you believe it. Much like Roscrea in Leinster, the North Circular Road School has been banging on the door to that initial Munster Senior Cup success. Three finals culminating in three defeats has whetted the appetite even more.
In '91 it was to PBC and in the last two years to Crescent and to Rockwell in that order. But, as with Roscrea, the Senior foundation is set on a very solid base. Five Junior Cup finals since 1995 with two successes ('03 and '05) sees this rugby and hurling stronghold (a remarkable achievement in itself) well set for another serious title assault at under-19 this year.
The alma mater of such recent stars as Paul O'Connell, Sean Cronin and Michael Sherry is well positioned to challenge again. Another past pupil and member of the '96 side Mossy Lawler is now employed by Connacht Rugby as Elite Player Development Officer and, along with fellow former Shannon man James Hickey, has handed over the coaching reins to yet another Parish man in Gerry Casey, with Pat Brown as his assistant.
Casey is head coach of an Ardscoil squad that includes 12 back from last year's extended cup panel, including eight who took part in the St Patrick's Day defeat to Rockwell. Centre Peadar Collins (right, in scrum cap) is captain and along with wing three-quarter Nathan Randles and out-half Conor Fitzgerald (also right, Limerick minor hurler and brother of 2014 skipper and full-back Stephen now in his second year with the Munster Academy), members of the Munster under-19 squad.
Lock Ronan Coffey is Munster under-18 provincial captain and one of four Ardscoil representatives along with Odhran Ring, centre Pa Ryan, and openside Ian Brown. Coffey is an exceptional lineout operator, if the only tight five forward back from last year's cup final side. The pack is light but if they can generate enough ball then in Fitzgerald (who will also kick his penalties) alongside Collins and Ryan in midfield plus Darren Gavin, Nathan Randles and Marcus McManemy, they possess a potentially brilliant backline.
Darragh O'Grady is son of former Shannon and Munster forward Paddy. It is a tough opening round north city derby with St Munchin's in Tom Clifford Park on January 21. It is a difficult one to call.
COACHES Gerry Casey, Pat Brown, David Collopy, Enda Gavigan, Gerald McNamara and Martin Flannery.
LAST YEAR Beaten by Rockwell (23-13) in Final.
SQUAD Peadar Collins* (Captain), Nathan Randles*, Oisin Bernard*, Darren Gavin*, Jim Ryan, Conor Fitzgerald*, Michael Scallon, Marcus McManemy*, Conor Cannon*, Ronan Coffey*, Pa Ryan*, Conor O'Brien, Evan Cusack*, Ian Brown*, Lloyd Mulcahy, Colin Slater, Colin Madden, Roy Whelan, Glen Clancy, Shane Redmond, Darragh O'Gorman, Craig Casey, Maurice Noonan, Matthew Gaule, James McCarthy, Luke Clohessy, Odhran Ring, Darragh O'Grady*, John Taylor, Robert Leonard, Nathan Breen, Hugh Fenton, Luke Doherty, Eoin O'Donohue, Darragh O'Brien, Will Henn, Conor Cusack, Eoin Caffrey and Robert Thompstone.
BANDON GRAMMAR SCHOOL
The appearance may be of a small fish in a big pond but don't be fooled. This is a Bandon Grammar School well equipped for the heavyweight challenges that lie ahead. Mind you, reigning champions Rockwell first up in Clanwilliam on the 21st could hardly be described as a gradual introduction to the main event.
Lock Gavin Coombes is captain and Denis Collins head coach of a Bandon squad that includes five back from last year. Others still on board include Luke Kingston, James French, James O'Dwyer and Sean Hudson.
And while the Senior Cup is under-19, Bandon Grammar reached the final of the under-18 League (Bowen Shield) before losing a tight showdown to CBC (23-13). Skipper Coombes was a member of the successful Munster under-18 schools inter-provincial champions in 2014/15. This year he progressed to the Munster under-19 team who were again provincial champions
French was this year's Munster School's under-18 tighthead, although the versatile and talented forward could line out in the cup at No 8. Ethan Greene (Kinsale) and Colin Deane (Clonakilty) represented Munster on the under-18 club team, while star turn French is following in the steps of Cian Healy (ex-Belvedere) through the Irish Schools panel. Like the versatile Healy (who played in all three front-row positions in his underage time) he was also on the Irish Schools Athletics team for the shot putt. At the Irish Schools Track and Field Championships in 2015 he won the Hugo Flynn Trophy (Inter Boys Shot Putt Champion), a trophy also taken by Healy in his days at the Great Denmark Street school.
Fellow representative forward Coombes is also in the Irish underage shake-up as part of the under-19 national squad. When it comes to hard graft and fitness, out-half Luke Kingston leads the way as part of the Kingston clan Ireland's Fittest Family in 2015. The talented sportsman also plays hockey for the school and has represented Munster Schools.
There is no easy introduction for Bandon this year, with defending champions Rockwell the opposition in Clanwilliam Park first up. It has the makings of a potential banana skin for the Spiritan school and of one thing you can be sure: Bandon will deliver a performance appropriate to the occasion.
COACHES Denis Collins, James Collins and George Bradfield.
LAST YEAR Did not qualify.
SQUAD Gavin Coombes* (Captain), Luke Kingston*, Jamie French*, James O'Dwyer*, Mark Bateman, Greg Reidy, Craig Pock, Luke Fleming, David Perkinson, Dylan O'Callaghan, Robin Stokes, Joshua Landzaad, Ethan Twomey, Ben Gur, Jacob Lehane, Ben Hodgins, Evan Palmer, Sean Scully, Sam Malone, Sean Hudson*, Ethan Greene, Travis Coomey, Jan Donnelly, Jason Bradfield, Colin Deane, Billy Hayes, Cameron Blair, Alex Moore, Ben Kingston, Lucas Ross, Victor Lovell, Ashley Deane and Stephen Shannon.
CASTLETROY COLLEGE, LIMERICK
Right from the get-go they announced their intent. Not content to do things by halves, a stunning but richly deserved Junior and Senior Cup double in 2008 marked Castletroy College as a new force in Schools Rugby.
A second success followed in 2013, beating Crescent in the under 16 final that year. And it is on the back of that win that hopes are high for a second Senior title, as the bulk of that third-year squad have now reached full underage maturation.
They have already won the (Limerick) City Cup when beating holders Glenstal in the mid-November Final (21-15), having lost to the same opposition in the opening league round. After that early setback they accounted for Munchin's, Ardscoil and Crescent before exacting revenge on the Murroe school. Put simply, 2016 Cup aspirations are not misplaced.
It is more or less the same coaching team as last year, led by Richard Feeney. Openside flanker Niall O'Shea (below, cousin of Jerry Flannery) is one of 15 back from the squad beaten by Pres in the 1st Round and captains a side that includes Munster representative players in prop Mark Bromell (under-18s), lock Sean English (under-18s and son of Gamesmaster as well as former St Enda's schoolboy and great Young Munster stalwart Declan), No 8 Alan Fitzgerald (Munster and Irish Youths as well as Munster under-19s), hooker Mark O'Meara (nephew of Peter and Des Clohessy and Munster under-18 in 2014 as well as Munster under-19 this season), prop Joey Conway (Munster under-18 2014, under-19 2015) and second-row Dylan Reeves-Wasik (Munster under-19s as well as Munster and Ireland Youths).
Flanker Conor Bermingham is a brother of Pat, who represented the province at all grades. Tighthead Bromell is brother of Irish champion sprinter Jenna. Sam Burns is brother of Ben, another who played all representative grades and now at UCC. Winger Muiris Rowsome is a cousin of David, Munster under-18 interpro winner last year, while hooker Eoin O'Shea is a brother of captain Niall and along with props Conor and Adam Myers two sets of brothers in the squad.
Put it all together and it makes for a particularly powerful pack, with the same first-choice front row for the third year running. The scrum is strong and maul effective. Out-half Jamie Heuston is the key figure behind both game management and point scoring.
Glenstal again provided the initial opposition (the third competitive meeting this season) and the city school ran out 18-16 winners. Castletroy supporters need little reminding of Dooradoyle being the scene of the greatest day in their school's Senior rugby history when Diarmaid McCarthy scored 'that try' and Paul Dooley lifted the trophy in '08.
After getting off to a winning start, this year's crop will be dreaming of doing the same.
COACHES Richard Feeney (head), Martin Burke, John Staunton, Gavin Heuston, Paul Harman, Brendan Colleran, Paudi Lillis and Dave Cross.
LAST YEAR Beaten by PBC (22-15) in 1st Round.
SQUAD Joey Conway*, Bryan Sheehan, Eoin O'Shea, Mike Ryan, Adam Myers, Conor Myers*, Mark O'Meara*, Cathal Flannery, Mark Bromell*, Evan Slattery*, Dylan Reeves-Wasik, Sean Devitt, Sean English*, Sean Mulkern, Sean Fitzpatrick*, Robert Maleady, Sean Finucane, Niall O'Shea* (Captain), Eoin Hourigan*, Alan Fitzgerald, Conor Bermingham, Sean Mulkern, Darragh McCrann, Shane Morgan, Conor Lyons, Stephen Atkinson*, Sam Burns, Jamie Heuston*, Rory Hannon, Conor Cosgrave, Darragh O'Neill*, Gerard Clancy, Michael O'Sullivan, Ian McCarthy, Ronan McDonnell, Paul Clancy, Eoghan Carew*, David Madden, Shane Mullins, Muiris Rowsome*, Brian Madden and Shane Hogan*.
CHRISTIAN BROTHERS COLLEGE, CORK
I had the privilege of attending the Transition Year production of Alone It Stands in Sidney Hill in the last school year and all I can say is that if the SCT go even remotely close to a comparable level of performance in the upcoming campaign then it will be a cakewalk for the 28-time champions!
The last outright success was in 2009, when Brian Hayes led Christians to success over Rockwell. Since then the Tipperary school have contested five more finals, but CBC not one. Seven years is an eternity on Leeside, given that between '97 and '09 the Cork giants contested nine finals, winning six.
Junior Cup winners in 2012 and 2015, the conveyor belt is still working smoothly. Neil Lucey is again head coach and oversees a talented group that includes no fewer than 21 back from last year's extended cup squad.
Daire Feeney is captain of a side backboned by another physically powerful pack of forwards littered with interpros.
When it comes to ball retention, this forward unit is up there with the very best. James Taylor, Fergus Hennessy, Oisin Conway, Ciaran McHugh and Luke Masters have all represented Munster Schools at under-18, while Alex McHenry as Munster under-19 captain led a provincial squad that included fellow Christians' representatives Peter Kelleher, Shane Bushe, Liam Coombes and Ross O'Neill.
The last two years, embracing double first-round defeats, have been particularly lean. The draw again this year certainly doesn't help, with the plum tie of the opening round against Crescent in Thomond Park set to get it all under way.
In addition to a particularly strong pack, James Taylor at out-half and McHenry (son of golfing great John) at centre have what it takes to open up the tightest of defences. If the forwards deliver to order, that losing first round sequence could be broken. Rest assured the Crescent perspective will be somewhat different.
COACHES Neil Lucey (head), Conor Quaid, Ian Dunne, Keith Moynihan, Dennis Lyons, Brian Jordan, John Sullivan and Dr Larrie Martin.
LAST YEAR Beaten by Ardscoil (18-16) in 1st Round.
SQUAD Peter Kelleher*, Conor Leahy*, James Humphries*, Ciaran McHugh*, James Hughes*, Kevin McCarthy, Conor Sheehan, Luke Masters, Shane Bushe*, Gordon Good*, Eoghan Cahill*, Daniel O'Connor, Sean Duffy, Sean Drinan*, Richard Thompson, Daire Feeney* (Captain), Dara O'Donovan, Fergus Hennessy, Robert Hyde*, Ross O'Neill*, Darragh McGinn, Declan Barry, Conor Forde, Ronan Keogh, Harry O'Shea, Tom McKenzie, James O'Rourke, Garry Barrett, Finn Burke, Ben Roche, Ronan Barry, Richard Cassidy*, James Taylor, Liam Coombes, Colin Sisk, Adam Coughlan, Alex McHenry*, Joe Harrington*, JD O'Hea, Oisin Conway*, Ian Casey*, Barry Galvin, David Leonard, Harry Murphy*, Josh Ward*, Killian O'Sullivan, Sean Lotty*, Shane Dunlea, Conor King, Mark McAuliffe*, Peter O'Keefe, Finn Carey and Robert Hedderman.
CRESCENT COLLEGE COMPREHENSIVE, LIMERICK
A few years back the great Don Reddan (whose opinion I greatly respect, particularly when it comes to schools and underage rugby) suggested to me, and in no boastful way, that an exciting period for Crescent College Comprehensive rugby could lie ahead.
Well, on the back of five Junior Cup finals in the last six years (including wins in 2010 and 2011) and embracing back-to-back success at Senior level in 2013 and 2014, this productive time for the Dooradoyle school continues still.
Quite whether they carry enough heavy artillery to trouble the big guns up front, only time will tell, but from scrum-half Jack Lyons (Munster and Ireland Schools), through Billy O'Hora (under-19s) and the particularly promising Calvin Nash (Munster and Ireland Schools) to Conor Philips (under-18s), Glen Dickinson (under-19s) and Daniel Hurley (Munster under-19s and Ireland preparatory panel) in the back three, it is, along with Ardscoil, undoubtedly the most exciting backline in the competition.
Lyons, Nash and Hurley are the star turns with Munster under-18 back-rower Bailey Faloon the pick of a pack that includes other representative players at under-18 in fellow back-rower John Blake and front-row forward Jack Henchy as well as scrum-half Aaron Cosgrove.
Centre Nash is skipper to a side that includes nine back from last year's match day squad beaten by a particularly strong Glenstal unit in the opening round. The school were denied a first ever 'J' and 'S' double by Castletroy in the Junior Final (13-7) three years ago. Many of that under-16 squad are back again now.
If Faloon, Blake, Henchy and company can provide even a modicum of quality possession, then in Nash, Hurley and the rest of a very exciting backline they have what it takes to make the Thomond Park factor tell.
COACHES Eugene McGovern (head), Conan Doyle, Barry O'Mahony, Shane Stanley and Paul Ryan.
LAST YEAR Beaten by Glenstal (6-3) in 1st Round.
SQUAD Niall Mulcahy*, Jason Barry, Jack Henchy*, Tom Connolly, Anson Thai, Eoin O'Halloran, Peter King, Brendan Kelly, Scott Leahy, Michael Sheehan, Fintan Coleman, John Blake*, Bailey Faloon*, Peter Hickey*, Daniel Feasey, Joe Barry, Mark Edwards, Jack Lyons*, Matthew Hanly, Calvin Nash* (Captain), Billy O'Hora*, Daniel Hurley*, Jake Fehily. Conor Philips, Glen Dickinson, Joran Young, Mark Shanahan, Tommy O'Hora and Aaron Cosgrove.
GLENSTAL ABBEY, MURROE
Tempting though it is to describe 2015 as the one that got away, the acceptance on the ground in Murroe is that Rockwell fully deserved last year's semi-final win and the cup final success that followed. It made for a disappointing end to a season that had promised so much, including as it did a convincing win over Crescent in the 2014/15 City Cup final.
Simon Malone has moved up from assistant to head coach, replacing Tom Tierney (now otherwise engaged with Ireland Senior ladies side) and already this academic year they have made it through to the City Cup final.
Unfortunately Castletroy proved a hurdle too high, taking the Limerick Senior trophy (21-15). But there was enough in that pre-Christmas Thomond Park decider to suggest another tight encounter (16-18) when the closely located rivals met up for the third competitive time this season at Garryowen FC.
Jack Stafford is captain to a squad that includes nine back from last year, with the Wexford Wanderer (Munster under-19) one of four representative players. Others to line out for the province at under-18 include prop Johnny Williams and openside flanker Mark Fleming, while outside-half Ben Healy was also a member of the extended provincial squad.
That City Cup final defeat to Castletroy and a friendly loss to Ardscoil were the only blemishes on a pre-Christmas run of ten wins from the 12 matches played.
As ever, strength in depth is the bugbear but it is yet another exciting, young, counter-attacking Glenstal side well capable of causing more than a ripple or two on any given day. At least Castletroy knew what was coming their way. They weren't be disappointed.
COACHES Simon Malone (head), Sean Skehan, Cameron Duffy, Lukasz Kirszenstein, Ian Dowling and Brian Collins.
LAST YEAR Beaten by Rockwell (22-3) in Semi-final.
SQUAD Ronan Broderick, Theo Broderick*, Gordon Daly*, Rory Johnston*, Luke Lynch*, Johnny Williams*, Jack Stafford* (Captain), David Quane*, Paddy Molony*, John McMahon, Sean Garry Scanlon, Jamie Mawhinney, Conan O'Sullivan, Jack O'Mahony, Shane O'Connor, Tim Molony, Thanade McCoole, Darren Halpenny, Sean Hammond, Shane Downes, Henry Downing, Luke Fitzgerald, Declan Floyd, Patrick Geraghty, Eamonn Daly, Eoin Bergin, Eoin Callaghan, Rory Clarke*, Conor Booth, Aran Egan, Mark Fleming, Ben Geary, Ben Healy, David Kelly, William McAleese, Ben Moloney, Patrick Prendergast, Andrew Walsh and Mark Walsh.
PRESENTATION BROTHERS COLLEGE, CORK
Much like St Michael's in Leinster, the suspicion is of a Pres squad hiding in the long grass. Joint top of the Senior roll of honour with Christians on 28 titles apiece, it is coming up to six years now since either Cork giant took the coveted trophy back to Leeside.
In that time Rockwell have been chipping away and closing the gap on the big two by way of three more Senior titles in 2011, 2012 and 2015, taking the Spiritan total up to 26. This year's Senior panel is backboned by a fair whack of the Junior Cup-winning squad from 2014. Former Welsh international Steve Ford and former Con stalwart Niall Murray are in charge of a coaching team that's entirely changed from 2015.
They pick from a position of real strength, with some 11 back from last year's match-day 23 pipped by Ardscoil at the penultimate stage. Brian O'Mahony is captain of a relatively young squad but one liberally sprinkled with representative players.
Cian Fitzgerald, David Hyland, James Broderick and Jonathan Wren are all involved in the Munster under-17 squad while Brian O'Connor, Jack Eoin O'Sullivan, Conor O'Flynn, Jack Tadgh O'Sullivan, Peter Sylvester, Jack O'Shea, Paul Buckley and Sean French have been involved with the Munster under-18 schools side this season. No 8 Jack Tadgh O'Sullivan (son of Munster doctor Tadgh), out-half Sylvester and full-back or wing French are three young and emerging stars, with O'Sullivan and Sylvester already central to the Ireland Schools squad.
On the downside, wing Bryan Foley and hooker Andrew O'Riordan are victims of long-term injury and will miss the upcoming campaign. Michael Shinkwin and Billy Scannell will cover the slot in the middle of the front row, with the latter particularly well qualified, being younger brother to Munster player Niall and to centre-cum-out-half Rory as well.
Despite losing just before Christmas at Lansdowne in the now annual charity clash for the most appropriately named Brother O'Reilly Cup to Christians (16-15), that result (whichever way it goes) is largely irrelevant. Make no mistake: there is a strong Pres challenge coming this year and St Clement's College, Limerick, found that out when they fell to a crushing 60-0 defeat at Rosbrien earlier this week.
COACHES Steve Ford, Niall Murray, Enda O'Regan, Ian Lehane, Marian Carey and Brian McMahon.
LAST YEAR Beaten by Ardscoil (13-11) in Semi-final.
SQUAD Daire McDonagh*, Brian O'Connor, Mike Varnam, Michael Shinkwin*, Billy Scannell, Peter O'Brien, Ryan Butt, Samuel Deane*, Cian Scott, Kevin Morris, Kieran Nugent, John O'Callaghan*, Jack Eoin O'Sullivan, Caomh Glavin, Adam McAuliffe, Paul Crowley, Conor O'Flynn, Brian O'Mahony* (Captain), David Duggan, Fiachra Kelleher, Eoin O'Shea*, Killian Horgan, Cian Fitzgerald, David Hyland, Jack Tadgh O'Sullivan*, Luke O'Connor*, Harry Shanahan*, David Harrington, Conor O'Dwyer, Peter Sylvester*, James Broderick, Tom Fitzgerald, Eoin Tuohy, Des Barry, Jack O'Shea*, Harry Dillon, Ross Murphy, Michael St Ledger, Simon O'Brien, Paul Buckley, Jonathan Wren, Michael Healy, Andrew O'Riordan, Sean French, Andrew O'Riordan and Bryan Foley.
ROCKWELL COLLEGE, CASHEL
IT'S hard to believe but between 1970 and the new millennium, 2001 to be precise, Conor Slattery alone (in 1985) took the much coveted senior trophy back to Cashel. Specifically over the last seven years (since '09) by way of six final appearances embracing three wins, the sleeping giant has re-awoken.
Last year's St Patrick's Day victory over Ardscoil was their 26th in all, thereby closing the gap to just two on Pres and Christians in the battle to head the Senior roll of honour stretching all the way back to 1909. Indeed, of the first 12 competitions played, Rockwell took six, CBC four and PBC one before another name appeared (The Abbey, Tipperary, for the one and only time in 1921).
It is an amazing record at Senior, given that the last Junior success was in 1997 and before that again all the way back to 1982. Yet again this year they have a really strong coaching team in place led by Mark Butler and former Rockwell, Munster and Ireland great Denis Leamy.
That they will be well drilled and highly competitive is guaranteed. Whether quite of the same vintage as in recent years, only time will tell. Munster schools under-18 hooker Diarmuid Barron is the star turn. He is also captain of the Rockwell class of 2016 and one of eight returning from last year's cup winning match day squad.
Barron came on as a replacement in that final for under-19 hooker Ben Murray, who along with Niall Campion and James Kendrick (Ireland under-18 Schools 2015 and Munster under-19) formed a particularly powerful front row. Expect a shuffling of the troops this time around, but equally a forward unit that will want for little in the scrum.
An equally strong back row includes flanker Mikey Wilson and last season's Munster Schools No 8 Mike Casey. Munster and Ireland under-19 scrum-half Daryl Egan is the pivotal performer behind and the key string puller at the base of the scrum. To keep him on his toes, Rockwell boast another outstanding scrum-half in Josh Pickering, who is also a member of the provincial under-19 squad. Centre Conor Cashman is the final surviving member of last year's cup-winning day in the sun.
Beyond that are nine other members of the extended squad from 2014/15. The draw appears at a glance to be relatively kind but Butler, Leamy and Co. will underestimate Bandon Grammar at their peril. That said, while we expect the new kid on the Section A block to perform at Clanwilliam Park, we expect the defending champions to prevail.
COACHES Mark Butler (head), Denis Leamy, Shaun McCarthy, Frank Fitzgerald, Danielle Cunningham, Padraig O'Connor, Fran Mulcahy and Tomas Ryan.
LAST YEAR Winners.
SQUAD Niall Campion*, Luke Ashmore*, Philip Ryan*, Ben Murray*, James Kendrick*, Diarmuid Barron* (Captain), David Shaw*, Bill O'Brien*, Ryan McLaren, Conall Kennedy, Keith Melbourne*, Paddy Murchan, Mikey Wilson*, Mike Casey*, Coman Ryan, Tom Russell, Darragh McKinley, Conor Forrest, Harry Gilbert*, Jordan Moore, Daryl Egan*, Josh Pickering*, Gary Kavanagh, Jake Flannery, Paudie Leamy*, Paudie Feehan, Jamie Stone*, Conor Cashman*, Chris Egan, Mike McMahon, Brian Fitzpatrick, Joe McCormack, Ben Hogan, Aerton Griffin*, Conall Fox, Victor Martinez, Andy Yoo, Matt Henley, Loic Gately, Eamon O'Brien, Joey Noonan, Kevin Blair and Ashton Griffin*.
ST CLEMENT'S COLLEGE, LIMERICK
It was Fr Fergus Corry who lit the rugby fuse back in the late '70s and the now departed Ireland Grand Slam-winning legend from 1948, Paddy Reid, who laid the foundation when providing the expertise at Fr Corry's invitation. Through the assistance of other great Light Blue stalwarts including Tommy O'Brien and Tommy Hanrahan, the link between Garryowen and the Redemptorist school was established and continues still to this day.
Shane Mullally is again head coach and this year is assisted by Brian Downey. It is a relatively young panel with just five back - back-rower Eoin Murnane, half-backs James Flanagan and Jordan Higgins as well as midfield backs Josh Page and Nathan Clancy - from last year's match-day 23 that beat Bandon Grammar to qualify for a one-off game against a particularly strong Glenstal side.
Despite the best efforts of Ryan Minihan, Kristian Burchardt, Hugh O'Brien-Cunningham and for the rest of the class of 2015, it proved a hurdle too high. This year's squad led by Clancy has emerged from a tough qualifier group where they had to fight tooth and nail to beat a gallant Bantry team in Skibbereen.
They then won a tight game against CBS High School Clonmel in Clanwilliam to progress to the main event, where they faced the might of PBC, Cork in the opening round at Rosbrien. Rest assured a certain PJ Reid will be looking down with immense pride and a smile on his face from that great rugby stadium in the sky.
Inspired by great PE teachers of the calibre of former Irish athlete Tim Crowe and John Sheehan, both fellow students in our time at NCPE/Thomond, and by current Gamesmaster and former Young Munster and Munster three-quarter Mike Lynch, the course for future rugby at the South Circular Road school is in good hands.
Last year was the first since St Clement's restarted the rugby programme in which they managed to field a full range of teams. Expect them to build steadily on that essential platform. We wish them nothing but the best.
COACHES Shane Mullally, Brian Downey and Stephen Hickey.
LAST YEAR Did not qualify.
SQUAD Aaron Long, Aaron Stacey, Adam Barry, Aidan Quinlivan, Aran Hehir, Conor Clancy, Craig O'Brien, Denis Mortell, Derry Gleeson, Dillon Cotter, Donal Browne, Dylan Daly-Conway, Enis Haxhiaj, Eoin Murnane*, Evan Griffin, Gerard O'Byrne, Nessan Galvin, Evan Lloyd, Jack Barry, James Flanagan, James Neville, John Flynn, Eoin Grimes, Jordan Higgins*, Joshua Page*, Nathan Clancy* (Captain), Scott Devitt, Sean Keane, Sean Ryan-Tobin, Sean Wilmott, Shane Brosnahan and Tony McMahon.
ST MUNCHIN'S COLLEGE, LIMERICK
Much like Clongowes in Leinster and the gradual build-up to cup time at Clane, a similar modus operandi has been in place at Corbally and for some time now. Yet again this year they could hardly be described as hitting the competitive ground running, losing most of their City Cup games but increasing the impetus in 'friendlies' as the main event fast approaches.
The last final appearance was just four years ago in 2012, losing out by the narrowest of margins (6-5) to Rockwell. It's hard to believe, but the last outright success (with Ger Slattery as captain) was ten years ago this March. The last Junior Cup success was in 1998, when led by a promising No 8 by the name of Foley!
The school is very proud of its tradition in recruiting a management team made up of current staff members and parents, all of whom take part on a voluntary basis. Former Shannon and Ireland clubs captain Davy Quinlan replaces Niall McDermott as head coach, with Gary Quilligan (AIL winner with Garryowen in '92) and Lee Nicholas (current Shannon captain and last Munchin's man to captain the school to the final, in 2012). Staff member Alan Murnane is again manager, while Ger McCoy (another Shannon man and parent) is looking after video analysis.
Adam Moloney is captain of a squad that includes 13 back from last year - 12 of whom played in that first-round defeat to Rockwell. Although not as experienced as last year's unit, this year's pack is backboned by Charlie Carmody at 8 (Munster and Ireland Schools under-18) alongside Shane Corbett (National Weight Lifting Champion), Emmett O'Callaghan and Adam Moloney, all of whom started last year.
Carmody is a particularly good ball carrier (following in the footsteps of Anthony Foley at a comparable age) and in Aaron Rice (Munster and Ireland Schools under-18) they have a scrum-half offering a slick and accurate service. Add to that Munster Schools full-back Marcus Browne along with Brian Bennet (cousin of Sean Cronin of Ardscoil, Leinster and Ireland), Evan O'Connor, Sean Kelly, Jason Kiely, Matt Lyons and Adam Guerin (Limerick Minor Footballer), all of whom have valuable experience behind the scrum.
Something will have to give in the North City derby against Ardscoil in Greenfields. If they can bully last year's beaten finalists up front, thereby depriving the North Circular Road school of front foot ball, they possess in Carmody and beyond enough firepower to get off to a winning start. Trying to nullify Ronan Coffey out of touch will be key. That said, it will take a brave or foolish man to call this outcome with any degree of confidence.
COACHES Davy Quinlan (head), Garry Quilligan, Lee Nicholas, Andrew Beatty, Ger McCoy and Alan Murnane.
LAST YEAR Beaten by Rockwell (14-6) in 1st Round.
SQUAD Aaron McNamara, Aaron Rice*, Adam Duggan, Adam Guerin*, Adam Lyons, Adam Moloney* (Captain), Ben Shanahan, Aidan Guerin, Brian Bennett*, Charlie Carmody*, Christian Brul, Conor Radcliffe, Corey Nash, Darren Radcliffe, Emmet O'Callaghan*, Evan Maher, Evan O'Connor*, Finbarr Egan*, Garry P Quilligan, Gary McCoy, Jake Murphy, James Burke, James O'Halloran, Jason Kiely*, Jordan Curry, Karl Mullane, Kealon McMahon, Killian Markham, Korey Browne, Liam Clancy, Luke Costelloe, Ross Walsh, Peter Magliocco, Matthew Lyons*, Mark O'Driscoll, Mark Hogan, Marcus Browne*, Sean Hayes, Sean Kelly*, Sean Naughton, Shane Corbett*, Shane Kelly, Thomas Harrington, Darragh Gibbons and Eoghan Carr.