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Monks' to gain from experience


St Mary's College v CBC Monkstown, Donnybrook, Tomorrow 4.0

Former Ireland international second row Gabriel Fulcher has crossed the city from Belvedere to assume the role of director of rugby at St Mary's where Hugh Hogan is head coach.

While it is not advisable to build any degree of certainty about pre-Christmas matches, St Mary's have toppled both last year's finalists, St Michael's and Clongowes Wood.

This has to be a source of confidence for the players, a particularly callow bunch bolstered by just five from last season, including their captain, Ronan Kernan.


In fact, there is a thread of experience through the front eight where Kernan, prop Niall Davis, hooker Steven O'Brien and second row Mel Farrell all played some part in the 18-3 first-round loss to Castleknock last season.

CBC Monkstown could not quite capture the level of consistency that saw them take down finalists Gonzaga in the league, falling to Newbridge 16-15 in the quarter-final.

This form has held solid with The 'Bridge displaying commendable skills to get the better of King's Hospital 12-5 in the first round out in Maynooth on Tuesday.

The building blocks were put in place last season when a young side was pipped 16-13 by CUS first time out.

There are 10 back from that traumatic experience, led by captain Marc O'Mahony.

Their main strike threat should come from Ireland U18 Schools squad member Michael Courtney in behind a pack anchored by giant prop Eoghan McKeever.

Verdict: CBC Monkstown

Blackrock look ready to kick on


Blackrock College v Gonzaga College, Donnybrook, Sunday 2.30

It may be that no one will be able to knock The 'Rock this year. You have to go all the way back to 2009 to the days of Jordi Murphy, Andrew Conway and Brendan Macken for the last of their 66 Senior Cup wins.

With each year that Cup is not recovered grows the pressure on the players to do what Blackrock have always done - dominate.

The Williamstown school will be captained by scrum-half Charlie Rock for senior coach Peter Smyth, a 'Rock old boy and renowned competitor from the professional era.

The finest Leinster Schools side developed since the start of the Leinster Academy included powerhouse Blackrock forwards in prop Oliver Jager, lock David O'Connor and number eight Nicholas Timoney.

The large forward pack is bound to find clever collaborators in Rock at scrum-half and able fly-half Gavin Tynan as 10 return from the side that was touched off by Terenure (17-15) in the first round last year.


Gonzaga are no one's fall guys. They clipped Pres Bray 35-0 in the quarter-final and Castleknock 12-7 in the semi-final before just falling short against Roscrea (18-14) in the league final.

They have a super-sharp scrum-half in Dermot Lavelle in partnership with last year's Ireland U18 Schools ten Conor McKeon.

UCD director of rugby Bobby Byrne is head coach to a pack of forwards that must win enough ball to keep Blackrock on the turn. Hooker Patrick Finlay and number eight Marco McVey are central to their cause.

Verdict: Blackrock