Belvo bid to soothe pain of triple final woe
For the second year running black and white will be the predominant colours as Cistercian College and Belvedere contest the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup final at the RDS tomorrow (4.0).
Belvo are the favourites, but that was also the case 12 months ago when Roscrea shocked them to win the title for the first time - playing in their sixth final - with a dazzling display of total rugby.
This Belvo squad has certainly suffered plenty of heartbreak, losing Junior Cup deciders in 2013 and '14 as well as last year's senior final.
If it is true what they say about having to experience defeat in order to fully appreciate victory then Phil Werahiko's resilient squad has served that debt in full.
On the other hand, Roscrea's squad - which includes ten cup winners from 2015 - can create another piece of history.
In losing last season's league final 20-19 Newbridge, they just missed out on a rare league and cup double. With the league already in the trophy cabinet courtesy of a 22-17 victory over Kilkenny in the final, the double is on the cards again.
In the opening round, Roscrea beat Kilkenny 22-6. League quarter-finalists Gonzaga were dispatched 27-17 in Round 2, followed by Clongowes (24-18) in a dogged semi-final in which this massive pack - with Aaron Browne (left) back in situ - began to rumble.
Significantly all four tries came from forwards, with loosehead Michael Milne bagging a brace, and tighthead Dylan Murphy and blindside flanker Brian Diffley getting one apiece.
For Belvo, the path has been much more complicated. A 34-0 victory over Newbridge in the opening round was followed by two classic encounters against Blackrock. The first was drawn 10-10 with Belvo taking the second 35-29 in a nine-try thriller.
In the semi-final, St Michael's pushed the favourites all the way before going down 36-22.
Both schools have outstanding goalkickers in Alan Tynan for Roscrea and Conor Jennings for Belvedere. Each backline is liberally sprinkled with line-breakers and try scorers, with the head to head between James McKeown on the right for Belvo and Joe Murphy on the left for Roscrea perhaps the most fascinating.
Belvo, with 11 back from last year, have looked the most complete unit in the competition, with all five tries in the semi scored by backs, and if they can match Roscrea up front then between Dave Hawkshaw, Hugh Sexton and Jennings they have the wherewithal to cut McKeown, Peter Maher and Hugh O'Sullivan loose.
If both schools play to form then Belvo should take it. Anything less and it's open season. Could be another belter.
Belvedere (probable) - H O'Sullivan; J McKeown, C Jennings, H Sexton, P Maher; D Hawkshaw, P Cagney ; D McCaffrey, C Galvin, C Wynne-Walsh; H Fenlon, B Egan (capt); S McNulty, M Kearney, T De Jongh.
Roscrea (probable) - C Kelly; D Keane, P O'Shea, S Hastings, J Murphy; A Tynan, K Kavanagh; M Milne, E Maher, D Murphy; F Wycherley, A Browne; B Diffley, J Canning, S Meagher (capt).
Ref - D Blake Belevedere v Roscrea, Live, Setanta, tomorow, 4.0