Tuesday 12 December 2017

Jes in pole position to confirm 'super' status

Peter Laffey of Sligo Grammar School puts his team on the road to victory at the Sportground last year. Photo: Ray Ryan / Sportsfile
Peter Laffey of Sligo Grammar School puts his team on the road to victory at the Sportground last year. Photo: Ray Ryan / Sportsfile
Tony Ward

Tony Ward

In the early years they were, along with Garbally and the Bish, a powerhouse in Connacht Schools rugby and then, in 1928, after winning four titles in five years, they disappeared completely off the winner's rostrum.

Spasmodically (in 1979 and 1985) they re-emerged, only to disappear again, as Garbally swept all before them throughout the '80s and '90s.

The school we are referring to is, of course, the Jes (Colaiste Iognaid), who have belatedly regained their superpower status and are fast catching up with fellow Galway City side St Joseph's (the Bish), who are currently second in the honours list behind Garbally from Ballinasloe.

Indeed, the noughties have marked a very real shift in power in the West with the Jes and Sligo Grammar taking over from long time heavyweights Garbally and the Bish as the main powerbrokers of the Connacht schools scene.

They have come face-to-face in four of the last six finals, with three wins going to the Jes and one to Sligo.

Even last year, when defeated by a particularly strong Sligo side, the Galway outfit pushed them all the way, the winners' 10-point haul in the final minutes making for a somewhat misleading 26-11 victory in the end.

It is significant that one or other has made it to ten of the last 12 finals.

The Jes have actually made it to five of the last six Sportsground show-downs, taking four titles in that period. Signs are they are set to do it again.

Already the Senior League title is in the locker, having beaten the gathering force that is Calasanctius College, Oranmore at the second attempt.

A brace of tries from No 8 Conor Murphy secured the title (26-11) after they drew 5-5 at the first attempt.

Junior Cup winners in 2009 and 2010, Calasanctius could make it through to face the Jes again, providing they can overcome Marist, Athlone and either the Development Cup winners or Sligo Grammar along the way.

Colaiste Iognaid will face the runners-up from the Development final. If they win this, either Gallen CS, Ferbane or Garbally will stand between them and yet another senior final appearance.

Just as it was Sligo in pole position as league holders a year ago, so it is with the Jes, who are the ones they've all got to beat this time round. All available evidence points to the Supermacs title No 12 going to the Jes and far be it for me to suggest otherwise.

Irish Independent Supplement

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