Corn Uí Mhuirí: Rochestown ready for one more big push

Final appearance will be Cork's first since the same school made it there eight years ago
Corn Uí Mhuirí: Rochestown ready for one more big push

Derry Howard of St Francis College is chased by Coláiste an Spioraid Naomh's Mark O'Brien during the TUS Corn Uí Mhuirí semi-final at Mallow last Saturday. Picture: Jim Coughlan

In 2015, St Francis College of Rochestown reached the final of the Corn Uí Mhuirí.

A team featuring Seán Powter and Shane Kingston was unlucky to lose after a replay to a Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne side that was winning the competition for the fourth time and on the way to a second successive All-Ireland title.

Eight years on, ‘Roco’ are back in the Munster decider – and, almost incredibly, no Cork school has made it that far in between. While CBS High School Clonmel went to the 2016 final, losing to Killarney’s St Brendan’s College, the five since then (none in 2021 due to Covid) have been contested by two of Brendan’s, Corca Dhuibhne or Tralee CBS.

This year, five of the eight quarter-finalists were from Cork, with Rochestown getting the better of Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh in last Saturday’s all-city semi-final final in Mallow to set up a meeting with Brendan’s in nine days’ time.

Rochestown selector Eamonn Hennessy is glad to be bridging the gap and feels that there has been a general improvement on Leeside.

“I think so, definitely,” he said.

“The Simcox is a very hard competition to win. We have got to a number of finals, but it is a hard competition to win.

“There is a load of good schools in Cork and fantastic work going into them, as you saw with five Cork teams in the quarter-finals. And if you look at the Cork underage teams, as well, there is serious talent there.

So I think the work that has been happening from the county board down, Cork football is definitely on the rise. 

"Us being in the final is further evidence of that.”

Rochestown supporters at the Corn Uí Mhuirí semi-final in Mallow. Picture: Jim Coughlan
Rochestown supporters at the Corn Uí Mhuirí semi-final in Mallow. Picture: Jim Coughlan

One has to go to back to 2011 and Coláiste Chríost Rí to find the last Cork title before the decade of Kerry dominance. Obviously, Rochestown are keen to end that run and earn a maiden victory, but Hennessy knows that to do so will involve winning the game and not getting caught up in the occasion.

“There will be a game there to be won, and I don't think it [hype] will be an issue for us,” he said.

“We are an experienced enough team, backboned by sixth years. A number of these boys won All-Irelands last year [senior B hurling]. There are a number of lads who have also won All-Irelands with the county and minor championships with their club, so I think we'll take it in our stride.


We have been playing at the top grade all the way up along, Bryan Hayes' group won the U15A Munster when he was back in second year. We have played at that grade for a long time, and I do think you need to play at it for a couple of years to get to the pitch of the game.

“When you get to these games then, having a confidence, that is where we are at the moment.”

Against Spioraid Naoimh, Rochestown started slowly but finished the first half well to lead by a point at half-time and then pushed four clear when Mark O’Rourke scored a goal. From there, they had a grip on the game and won by 1-10 to 0-7.

“These games are always nervy and edgy,” said Hennessy.

“We didn't play the best we could in the first half but I think after ten, 15 minutes, we settled into it and certainly in the second half, we knew there was a game there to be won and we pushed on. We'd expect that from the boys.

“Bishopstown put up a super fight. We knew they were going to be difficult. They have a very good sprinkling of very athletic players, and they are also probably that little bit younger, we have that small bit more experience at this level. I think that is what maybe got us over the line.”

Allied to that was the defensive meanness that ensured that Spioraid Naoimh couldn’t find a goal, as well as good strength in depth.

“That has been a theme all year,” Hennessy said, “our pride in our defending.

“There is no team wins anything without a solid defence. It's more a defensive mindset for the whole team, really. The lads haven't been found wanting in any regard.

“We used 19 players in the semi-final, we used 19 the last day. We used 20 in most of our group games. 

It is a really competitive panel and there is competition for all the places. There is huge credit due to 1-40 on our panel.”

Unfortunately, it’s a panel hit by the absence of Bryan Hayes and Harry Quilligan and they will be underdogs against ‘the Sem’. Nevertheless, Hennessy is looking forward to it.

“It’s nice to be in a final,” he said, “nicer to win one.

“I have to say St Brendan's will be the raging favourites for that, but that really wouldn't worry our boys. Whoever produces the good on the day will be deserved winners.”

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