A Cork school will break the eight-year duck since last qualifying for the Corn Uí Mhuirí (Munster Post-Primary Schools SFC) final, when Colaiste an Spioraid Naoimh and St Francis College, Rochestown, meet in Mallow tomorrow at 1pm.
It will be a Cork-Kerry decider either way as the holders St Brendan’s, Killarney, play Mercy Mounthawk, Tralee, in the other semi-final.
The Bishopstown school, back in the competition after an 11-year hiatus, won the title for the only time in 2005, when current manager Anthony Seymour played, while Rochestown must go back to 1950 for their lone success.
Both won all three group games in reaching the knock-out phase and impressed in the quarter-finals, Spioraid Naoimh defeating Skibbereen Community School and Rochestown denying St Flannan’s.
“We’re absolutely thrilled and it’s real bonus territory for us,” said Seymour. “It was great to get out of the group initially and it’s there to be enjoyed.
“There’s a great buzz in the school. We had supporters from very year-group at the quarter-final and the staff are very excited, too. It has lifted the whole place really.”
Spioraid Naomh call on players from Bishopstown, St Finbarr’s, Ballinora, Inniscarra and Éire Óg with stand-out players in Adam O’Sullivan (Ballinhassig), scorer of 2-5 last day out, and Darragh O’Donovan (Bishopstown).
"We’ve been using Bishopstown’s facilities to train, particularly the Astro pitch during the bad weather.
“Clubs have been sending on their best wishes, ensuring their players are minded during the week and parents, of course, have been very enthusiastic which has fed through to the school as well. It’s been good on all aspects and the general community, too.
“We started preparing in May last year. We needed to get the sixth years, for example, tuned in to what A grade football is all about, having played B up to now.
“A lot of them put down a strong base during the summer and when we came back to school in September football was embedded into their timetable.
“The reaction in the dressing room after the last game showed that all the hard work has been worth it and they’re really enjoying the rewards of it.”
Rochestown are appearing in their third semi-final in four years and were the last Cork school to feature in a final, the 2015 edition, which went to a replay before Pobalscoil Chorcha Dhuibhne won by 1-10 to 0-10.
Their plans have been disrupted by injuries to key players, all in attack. Bryan Hayes (Nemo Rangers), Harry Quilligan (Douglas) and Micheal O’Mahony (Ballygarvan) missed the quarter-final.
“Bryan is out for the season. He is our captain and is a massive loss, both for ourselves as a group and for him personally,” said selector Eoghan Buckley.
“He is very dedicated to the school and goes to all the training sessions. Bryan had a cruciate injury as a second year and worked hard to come back from that when Covid struck, which meant he hadn’t much time to play for the school.
“Harry has a knee injury. He’s been flying all season and one of our main scoring forwards. Harry’s definitely out for this game.
“Micheal played every minute of the group games but picked up an ankle injury and missed the St Flannan’s game.
“We are confident that players coming in off the bench can do a job for us and that’s been our mantra all season.
“We believe we can win though it’s going to be a lot tougher without the three lads.”
Rochestown impressed in qualifying, topping a group containing Dingle, Pres Milltown and Skibbereen before overcoming St Flannan’s.
Their players are drawn from county minor champions Douglas, Nemo, St Michael’s, Ballygarvan, Cobh, Shamrocks, and Carrigaline.
“There’s a real city derby feel to the game because the lads know who’s who having played them at under-age level all the way up, especially minor in the past couple of seasons,” said Seymour.
Mallow is a strange choice for venue, but, apparently, it was the only ground available at a challenging time of the season, weather-wise.