LEINSTER RUGBY SCHOOLS SENIOR CUP 1ST RD REVIEW
Forget the bookmakers for once. There is nothing like the evidence of your own eyes to value the relative merits of the protagonists for the Powerade Leinster Schools Senior Cup this year.
The pre-tournament odds made Terenure the evens favourites to bridge the gap back to their eighth and last triumph ten years ago.
The current snapshot in time would make this more likely to fail than succeed given how they struggled, not so much with Belvedere, but with themselves in the first round. They just didn't convince on what was admittedly an ice-cube cold day at Donnybrook.
This fall from favouritism will suit Des Thornton's 'Nure right down to the ground. They have the players. They still have time to put it all together.
They will have to do so in their quarter-final against Leinster League winners Roscrea, who boast the biggest pack of forwards in the competition, led by captain Sean O'Brien and Rory Moloney.
The holders St Michael's and Clongowes Wood have met in two of the last three finals.
Perhaps, the most interesting aspect of this one lies in the fact that Noel McNamara is the Ireland Schools coach.
McNamara has an inside line on many of St Michael's most dangerous players, like lock James Ryan, number eight Josh Murphy, half-backs Nick McCarthy and Ross Byrne and centre Adam Leavy.
Newbridge and CBC Monkstown has a 50-50 feel about it with the latter slightly favoured to make good on the form they showed in the 24-10 defeat of St Mary's first time out with the sharp work of scrum-half Ben Mahon a feature of their play.
The 'Bridge were also able to minimise the damage of a swirling storm through their 12-5 win over King's Hospital, their pack doing the spadework for a dangerous three-quarter line buoyed by the playmaking skills of ten Mark Sutton.
Definitely, the best performance of the first eight matches came from a switched-on, tuned-in Blackrock.
They simply blew the cobwebs and Leinster League finalists Gonzaga away (44-18) with an impressive ruthlessness.
They have already found their rhythm, something that cannot be said of 'Nure, and have a coherency to their play that must be put down to the influence of their coach Peter Smyth.
They will be odds-on to cope with fire and fury from Kilkenny, who will go all-out to achieve a shock to rival that of their 2007 quarter-final replay win over 'Rock.