The Sem will be slight favourites to topple Tralee CBS
Corn Uí Mhuirí quarter-final: St Brendan's College Killarney v Tralee CBS. Wednesday January 16. Time and venue tbc
Normally it's a final you would associate with such a pairing, but it will be an interesting renewal of the county's oldest Post-Primary rivalry this day week at a Killarney venue.
The Sem won the last instalment in the 2017 final while The Green went on to suffer another loss in last year's decider to Pobalscoil Corcha Dhuibhne. The Sem have been more impressive in the campaign thus far, winning all three of their Group games against Killorglin, Clonakilty and Mercy Mounthawk as they look to claim a victory over another Tralee outfit this time.
The only blemish has been the loss of the O'Sullivan Cup which they held for five straight seasons, but manager Gary McGrath sees the benefit in the experience of losing to Pobalscoil like they did in the semi-final.
"Obviously it's a competition (O'Sullivan Cup) that means a lot to us and we were disappointed to lose but we had a lot of younger players out there that day that hadn't experienced that level, before so it was a good way for them to learn about what is required at this level," the Sem manager said.
Despite the weather pre-Christmas delaying the completion of their group, one advantage of the mild weather had been the ability to get decent sessions done McGrath believes.
The Green, meanwhile, have had a shorter campaign in the Corn Uí Mhuirí, losing their opening match to St Francis Rochestown before ensuring their place in the knockout stages with a win over Colaiste Chriost Rí in their second match. Finishing on time, unlike some of the other groups, has created a bit of a wait for them to resume at this level but selector Mike Tim O'Sullivan said it had its advantages.
"We had a few injuries that needed time off to heal and with the Hurling Final with Mounthawk as well it allowed time for there to be a bit of focus on that for the players who were involved. We had a bad day against Rochestown the first day while we probably got the rub of the green against Chriost Rí," O'Sullivan feels.
He identifies their transition play from defence into attack as a big area they must improve on if they are to beat St Brendans.
"You have to be at your best to beat them no matter what stage of the competition you play them, they are such a tough school to play against no matter how they are going."
One advantage for Tralee CBS is no major injury worries; St Brendans are still waiting on All-Ireland Minor winning midfielder Darragh Lyne who hasn't played in the last two months with a back issue, but McGrath is cautious about the challenge of the Green for the Sem next week.
"They have been very unlucky not to have made the breakthrough in the last few years and I know they will see this as a great opportunity to take a step in the right direction. Our simple approach to this game is to try and improve on our last performance each time."
All-Ireland winning Minor captain Paul O'Shea will carry the main threat for St Brendans alongside his team-mates from that side in Marc Kelliher, Patrick D'Arcy and Michael Lenihan. Ryan O'Grady and Emmet O'Shea will pose the Green problems as well as Sean Quilter, Devon Burns, Tadhg Brick, Eoin Carr and Daire Keane amongst others need big performances if they are to stop the might of the Killarney side.
The CBS will throw everything at the challenge but The Sem probably have too many options for them to deal with on the day.
Verdict: St Brendans College