THE holders may be blazing a trail toward the latter rounds, but this year's competition has a distinctly fresh feel to it already, writes Gavin Earley.
Despite the emphatic success of champions St Benildus College in the opening round -- and their league campaign -- the three other sides that made up last year's semi-final line-up have already been eliminated. Andrew Brennan grabbed a hat-trick and Tom Keane a brace in the first round as Benildus beat St John's College, Ballyfermot 7-0 to kick-off their campaign.
Up next is a delayed second-round clash with Clondalkin's Collinstown CC, but runners-up last season, De La Salle Dundalk, fell at their last-16 hurdle to local opposition on Tuesday, losing 2-0 to Coláiste Rís. Another side through to the third round at the expense of a final-four side last year is Coláiste Choilm, Swords, who had a 10-1 success over Donahies CS. Semi-finalists last season, St Joseph's SS, Rochfortbridge, suffered a first round by Mercy SS, Ballymahon.