PBC and Bandon Grammar School attempt to join CBC and Crescent College Comprehensive in the last-four of the Pinergy Munster Schools Cup today and tomorrow.
Both games against St Munchin’s and Rockwell College respectively will be played at Musgrave Park with Pres kicking off today at 2pm and it’s 3pm tomorrow for Bandon.
The pair lost their opening round games in the knock-out phase to Crescent and Christians, but availed of the second chance following their impressive run in qualifying before Christmas.
Pres finished runners-up in their group to Bandon and so had to travel to play a highly fancied Crescent, who topped their section, on the back pitch at Thomond Park.
A heavily rutted surface took an obvious toll on players trying to remain upright while also struggling to inject any pace on a slow pitch.
Despite taking the lead on three occasions through a couple of penalties and a conversion from full-back Ben O’Connor, captain of the Cork All-Ireland minor hurling team last season, Pres were pegged back almost immediately by the impressive Limerick school.
Pres’s first-half try came from hooker Danny Sheahan following a close-range line-out maul which helped them jump 10-3 in front only for Crescent to respond straight with a converted try of their own for 10-10 at the interval.
Crescent dominated territory on the resumption even though O’Connor’s booming penalty edged Pres in front once more before the deciding score arrived on the hour.
Sustained pressure from the re-start produced a penalty try as Pres brought down a maul inches from their line and so Crescent progressed directly to the semi-final on a 17-13 score line.
St Munchin’s were involved in a Limerick derby with Ardscoil Ris to determine who’d play Pres and they duly won a lot more convincingly than the 10-0 result might otherwise indicate.
Out-half Cillian O’Connor kicked a penalty and also converted wing Ryan Naughton’s second-half try.
The venue is likely to have a major bearing on the fixture because the 4G pitch should allow for a faster, flowing game and this will definitely suit the Cork school.
There’s pace in O’Connor and wing Sean Condon for Pres to exploit while number eight Jacob Sheahan has a role to play in ensuring a fast tempo.
St Munchin’s will look to lively scrum-half Jake O’Riordan, centre Gordon Wood and second-row Tadhg O’Brien to extend their cup run.
Both Bandon and Rockwell have experience of playing on the astro pitch so both will feel at home.
Bandon scored four tries against Christians through centre Peter O’Sullivan, wing Barry Spearman-Walsh, scrum-half Dylan O’Driscoll and prop Fionn O’Neill with exciting out-half Jeff Williams kicking a penalty and a conversion.
But, they still couldn’t prevent the city school from winning by 37-25 with the Christians’ forwards in rampaging form.
Prop Mitchell Connolly and centre Liam McCarthy are important cogs in a Bandon side, which has every chance of advancing.
One of Rockwell’s pluses is the actual number of games played to even get to this stage of the cup.
This will be their fourth outing in the knock-out phase alone having finished a lowly fourth in qualifying, when the Tipperary school registered just one win.
It meant a preliminary qualifying game against recent champions Glenstal Abbey, who had no answer to the power and pace of the Rock, who crossed for eight tries in a 55-7 rout.
Centre Robert Wall bagged a hat-trick and there was a couple for back-rower Brian Gleeson as Rockwell set up another winner-take-all encounter with Ardscoil Ris.
This was a thrilling 24-24 draw with Rockwell believing they had won it with a late try only for Ardscoil to snatch an equalising try in the final play deep in injury-time.
The replay at Clanwilliam Park in Tipperary Town was equally tight, the Limerick school leading 3-0 at half-time before a try from out-half Peter McGarry, converted by Kian O’Reilly, who also kicked a penalty, saw Rockwell home.
Second-row Jack Ryan and full-back Henry Buttimer are others to watch for the Rock, who were crowned junior cup champions in 2019 with a team captained by Buttimer in the final win over St Munchin’s.