PBC coach Ger Burke admitted to his reservations about the Pinergy Munster Schools Senior Cup final being played on a Tuesday, but he’s glad now.
His side romped to a 24-0 win over great rivals CBC with left wing James Wixted scoring an 18-minute second-half hat-trick after turning around 7-0 ahead.
“It’s funny now but we were giving out about the Tuesday initially only for the forecast to say it was the only dry day of the week,” Burke said afterwards.
“There was something like 38mms of rain predicted for yesterday which wouldn’t have suited us. We don’t try and hide the way we play.
“We put a mountain of work into our skills and we replicate what you saw out there in training regularly.
“We want guys to express themselves and when you see them doing it on the biggest stage it’s hugely rewarding.”
Pres crossed for 21 tries in the four-game campaign with 17 coming from a talented back division, including four from Wixted, three from James O’Leary and two apiece for Tom Coughlan, Gene O’Leary-Kareem and Ben O’Connor with young half-backs Liam Tuohy and Harry Murphy also scoring.
Rory O’Shaughnessy, the number 8 and captain, also scored twice with flankers Fionn Roussel and Alex Alderson dotting down, too.
Former Munster player Cian Bohane, who plays for Highfield in AIL Division 1B, is a major influence on how Pres played during the year.
“His first job is to keep me calm,” Burke joked. “Cian is amazing. We’ve become very close friends in the last few years. He’s one of those guys who doesn’t want the limelight.
“Cian is full of humility and our backs are the best backs in the country which is no accident because it’s all down to him.
“I’m blessed to have an amazing manager in Ian Lehane, an assistant coach in Don Buckley, an S@C coach in Ciaran O’Regan and Cian just brings class on top of everything else.
“It’s how we want to play. In training it’s backs and forwards together throughout and we’re there in the middle arguing and discussing things.
While the Mardyke school bask in the glory of a 31st title, it wasn’t all sweetness and light, especially at the start of the season.
“We had some difficult times, September and October were particularly hard and there were questions asked about changing our approach.
“But we didn’t and I’m so glad we didn’t. We’ll lose the way we play and we’ll win the way we play, too, and when that it happens it feels incredible.”
Pres also displayed courage when not in possession of the leather, particularly in the spell leading to half-time when Christians went close to breaching their defence.
“There were some phenomenal de-sets when those big Christians forwards came charging at us.
“Earlier in the year teams were scoring too easily against us but the hard work put in on the training ground paid off.
“Talking about stopping it and actually doing it are two totally different things. We knew we needed commitment to the physicality and I thought it was incredible. I’m really proud of the boys.”
The game attracted a crowd of around 6,500 and youngsters between 16-18 deal with that pressure differently.
“I was happy enough at half-time. I would have liked to have been two scores clear, but happy to be in front.”
Bagging the first score after 21 minutes via O’Leary-Kareem was crucial in Burke’s eyes. “That was huge. Last year we were really nervous at Thomond Park and once Crescent scored, we fell apart.
“Scoring first has been the way of the team but at half-time the message was ‘the game is still in the balance, go and score again.’”
Burke explained how they watched segments of the thrilling semi-final win over St Munchin’s in silence, admitting it made for uncomfortable viewing.
“We knew we had to play for 60-65 minutes and if we did that we wouldn’t be beaten.”