PBC took to the skies for a five-day warm-weather training camp ahead of their Pinergy Munster Schools Senior Cup campaign, which gets underway in a mouth-watering derby with CBC at Musgrave Park tomorrow at 2.30.
The competition cranks up several notches this week, starting with a double-header between the defending champion Crescent College Comprehensive and Bandon Grammar School at Thomond Park at 1pm today, followed by the all-Limerick affair of St Munchin’s and Ardscoil Ris at 3pm.
On Thursday, newcomers Colaiste Phobail Beanntrai, appearing in only their second season in the top-flight of the schools’ game, meet Rockwell College at Musgrave Park, kick-off, 2.30.
Pres headed to Cambrils, down the coast from Barcelona, with a 50-strong squad and wrapped up a productive week with a friendly against Ulster side, RBAI, who were also in the area.
Pres are aiming to take one step more than last season after a crack Crescent side proved too strong in the final.
“We’ve just two survivors from the starting 15, our captain Rory O’Shaughnessy, who played centre last season, but is number 8 now, and full-back Ben O’Connor, who has only played a few games for us.”
Pres were represented at Munster level by centre Gene Kareem O’Leary and wing Tom Coughlan while out-half Harry Murphy and centre James O’Leary, part of their victorious junior cup winning side from last season.
“We had a tough September,” said Burke, “but turned a corner in October and haven’t lost since a humbling defeat to Ardscoil (34-19).” Pres defeated Rockwell and Bandon in qualifying.
Christians lost just once in their qualifying section, as well, a 33-27 defeat by St Munchin’s in a high- quality encounter, which yielded nine tries.
“There was only a kick of a ball between us in the end,” said coach Tommy Crowe ahead of a game, which doesn’t have a ‘do-or-die’ attachment.
The winners progress automatically to the semi-finals while the losers get another chance via the back door route.
Christians are also led by their number 8 Eanna McCarthy with prop Sam Loftus vice-captain and their team is dotted with Munster representatives, too.
McCarthy played second row for the province alongside colleague Michael Foy with George Good at hooker and Gavin O’Riordan at centre. Jack Casey will be scrum-half.
“We had mixed bag of result against the Dublin schools, beating the likes of St Michael’s and Terenure, but losing to Blackrock and Belvedere.” Bandon overcame Castletroy College 14-13 with a try from flanker Liam Prior and three penalties from out-half Peter Symington but face a much tougher test from a strong Crescent side determined to defend their title.
Bantry produced late heroics in their 23-19 win over Glenstal Abbey to register an historic first senior cup victory.
Out-half Dylan Hicks and centre Michael O’Donovan-Ireland under-age internationals-contributed the bulk of the scores, including the late try from O’Donovan, when the west Cork side ignored a kick at goal to level matters.
Hicks kicked three penalties and converted both tries, second-row Ciaran O’Sullivan crossing for the opener.
FIXTURES: Pinergy Munster Schools Senior Cup: TODAY: Crescent College Comprehensive v Bandon Grammar School, Thomond Park, 1pm; St Munchin’s v Ardscoil Ris, 3pm.
TOMORROW: CBC v PBC, Musgrave Park, 2.30.
THURSDAY: Rockwell College v Colaiste Phobail Beanntrai, Musgrave Park, 2.30.