Leinster's finest aim to make Padraig Pearse proud
THE 2015-16 edition of the Leinster GAA Schools Senior A Championships promises to be the best yet as a fresh batch of students go in search of top marks.
There are 23 teams in football, including two combined teams, and 16 teams in hurling, including seven combined teams, who will clash in the coming weeks in a straight knockout format.
The goal for them all is reaching the finals that will be played next February.
The football action begins this week with defending champions Good Counsel of Wexford having a bye into round two.
The tie of the round features Marist of Athlone travelling to take on Ard Scoil Na Trionoide from Athy next Monday, December 8.
St Mel's and Moate reached a North Leinster league final, which is being seen as a strong indication of their good form, while St Peter's of Wexford, Colaiste Eoin of Dublin and Patrician of Newbridge are contesting the top of the South Leinster league and will also be heavily fancied.
Renowned for their high standard, one of the notable features of the football competition has been the great spread of recent winners.
In the last five years schools from Wexford, Dublin, Offaly, Meath and Louth have carried off the top prize.
The hurling action will begin in early January with holders St Kieran's College expected to be pushed all the way by their neighbours Kilkenny CBS.
However, every year there is a surprise package in the semi-finals and great credit is due to Good Counsel of New Ross, St Peter's and Colaiste Eoin who are the only teams to be competitive in both Senior A football and hurling.
Leinster GAA has a proud history of organising competitions for second level schools dating back to 1910.
One of the many roles held by Padraig Pearse in the years before his death was that of vice chairman of the inaugural Leinster GAA colleges committee, and it will add a special significance to the cups presented to the Leinster champions in 1916.
The combined teams initiative is credited with having played a major role in the improvement of standards that have ultimately had a positive effect at senior inter county level.
All the indications are that standards are continuing to improve and that this year's competition will be something special to savour.
Irish Independent Sport Star Awards
Pick our magic sports moment of the year and win a trip for two to London. To view the shortlist and cast your vote click here.