THE schools rugby cup season should have concluded yesterday with the 89th staging of the junior final.
It was due to be CBC versus St Munchin’s at Thomond Park, but the game fell victim to the coronavirus pandemic, as did the senior equivalent between Christians and PBC.
Last week’s shock declaration from the IRFU that the season was cancelled with immediate effect and that cups would be shared led to much head-scratching at schools’ level in particular.
The junior cup dates back to 1932, when Limerick CBS were the inaugural winners with Pres claiming the title the following season and Christians bagging their first in 1938.
The Mardyke school top the roll-of-honour with 29; Rockwell College have 20 and Christians, 18.
In all nine schools have lifted the trophy, including the Limerick contingent, Crescent College Comprehensive, St Munchin’s, Ardscoil Rís, Castletroy College and the defunct Mungret College.
It’s a most unsatisfactory way to complete a season, acknowledging there are more pressing matters to deal with at the moment.
And while the local derby senior final is unlikely to ever be played, there’s plenty of room for manoeuvre to finish the junior campaign, as outlined by Christians coach Russell Foley.
“To be honest, I’ve no interest in a shared cup,” said Foley. “I’d rather have the chance of winning it because it’s an historic tournament.
“I’m hoping at some point, even next September, it will be played.
“And if we’re not back in school by then, the world is really falling apart anyway.
It would have been an intriguing game because Christians walloped St Munchin’s 40-0 in the first round on the Musgrave Park astro pitch, scoring six tries in the process.
One came from second-row David Novak, whose twin brother Kamil, packs down next to him, and hooker and vice-captain Adam Wrona also scored.
The backs grabbed the rest, full-back William Kingston, centre Mathew O’Callaghan, wing Billy O’Riordan and scrum-half Jack Casey all obliging with out-half Ben Lynch converting five.
But, the Limerick school recovered in some style, defeating Pres and Ardscoil Rís to reach their third successive final. Clearly, playing on grass suits them better.
“The lads were all given training schedules in the absence of all collective training,” said Foley. “In fact, I’m about to make contact with them to continue what they’re doing because nobody has any idea on what’s going to happen next.
“I’m assuming there will be a match at some stage, all the while bearing in mind that there are more serious things going on in the world.
“It’s still a big event for guys of this age because they put a lot of work into it. So, we’re just waiting for what the Munster Branch are going to say.
“I hear of a petition doing the rounds in Leinster, but, maybe that’s not the right approach to take.
“The question was asked do we share the cup and how and does everyone involved get medals?
“Whatever about the senior cup, I don’t see any reason why the junior cup can’t be played at some point.
“The young lads will still be in school and they will be playing in the Bowen Shield anyway with the same squads.
“My understanding is that St Munchin’s are anxious to play the game, too, and even wanted it brought forward before it was called off.
“Some are doing the Junior Cert and there’s talk of a delay in that and others have school exams, too.”
For the youngsters involved it should have been the highlight of their fledgling careers and it can still be … sometime.