As featured in Leinster Rugby v Edinburgh match programme (31/10/14)
While most assume that the road to schools’ cup glory begins in Donnybrook in late January, the Leinster Senior and Junior Cups kicked off in earnest earlier this month. A suitable platform for the less renowned rugby playing schools’ the Development Cup is the entry level for those newly affiliated to the Leinster Branch, offering aspiring schools an avenue into the upper echelons of Leinster Schools Rugby. Beyond the Senior Development Cup the McMullen and Vinny Murray cups await before a side can contemplate a bash at the Leinster Schools Senior Cup, the holy grail of schools’ rugby.
The mid-term break now provides us with an opportunity to both take a breather and take stock of the latest fortunes and misfortunes of Leinster’s burgeoning rugby community.
40 schools entered this year’s competition in the hope of running out at Donnybrook in January and emulating Wexford CBS’ fine campaign last term. Following victory over Sean O’Brien’s alma mater Tullow CS, Wexford knew that victory over DLS Churchtown would not only assure them of a semi-final berth but also a place in the Vinny Murray Cup and a “crack at the big boys.” While some heads might have been turned by such a distraction, the south-east side continued to wreak havoc and overcame their 2013 conquerors Naas CBS before ultimately claiming the trophy in their defeat of St. Fintan’s High School, Sutton in a well-deserved win. Yet, while a hard fought victory over St. Columbas in the Vinny Murray Cup will remain a highlight, St. Gerard’s (who would ultimately fall to Leinster powerhouse Clongowes in the Senior Cup) finally put paid to their enthralling adventure in the Vinny Murray Cup semi-final with a scoreline of 24-12.
Opening their season in October 2013, Wexford CBS could barely have imagined just how their season would unfold. Remarkably, having navigated an impressive path through the Development Cup, they also ploughed their way through the McMullen Cup before only being held up at the penultimate stage of the next tier, the Vinny Murray Cup, with many giant-killings along the way. Their endeavours took Leinster rugby by storm and heartened many of the aspirational school sides throughout the province.
Encouraged by that extraordinary story, the Senior Development Cup competitiors of 2014/2013 kicked off with great hopes and gusto on October 8th. Despite not owning a rugby ball until 2009, Ardee CS have established themselves as one of the frontrunners in the Cup, but despite a convincing trip to Trim where they overcame Boyne Community School, they were undone by Drogheda Grammar School who now face into a tricky quarter-final tie against the 2011 winners Dundalk Grammar on November 5th. Dundalk have shown good form to date particularly in their recent triumph over Gormanston College but will no doubt be wary of the unpredictability of local derbies.
With Colaiste Bhride’s endeavours coming to an end against Colaiste Chill Mhantain meanwhile, Lucan Community School have emerged as most clinical side to remain in the competition. Following comprehensive victories over Castleknock Comprehensive and Portmarnock CS, they eagerly await the victor between Tallaght CS and Ratoath College, last years finalists, on November 4th. Colaiste Chill Mhantain now await St. Kevin’s CC Dunlavin in the quarter-final.
Elsewhere in the draw, midlands side Tullamore College have shown that they know how to grind out a result following their tight victory over Moyne CS, yet in the next round they cut loose and put Oaklands Edenderry to the sword. They now host Patricians Newbridge on November 5th. The Newbridge side have taken a more understated route with respectable wins over Salesian College and Pipers Hill. In an interesting turn of events, Tullamore and Patricians Newbridge will also meet in the Junior quarter-final just two days beforehand.
The Junior Development Cup has been a feast of enthusiasm and potential. With a relatively short time to prepare, all sides have acquitted themselves with distinction, while many individuals look set to grace the scene for some time to come.
Just as their senior peers have shown themselves to be accomplished competitors, Dundalk Grammar are still on course to guarantee a semi-final berth and potentially meet their neighbours Colaiste Ris. However, both St. Ciarans CS and Ardee CS will be looking to capitalize on any advanced notions. Colaiste Chill Mhantain have also begun to establish themselves as a schools rugby force to be reckoned with. On November 3th they will come face to face with Scoil Chonglais two days prior to their senior side.
It is quite hard to believe what these boys can achieve in such a short space of time. Much credit goes to their coaches and mentors. More importantly however, try and catch a few games and give them all the support they deserve!!