Coláiste Chríost Rí with 15 titles, North Monastery and St Fachtna’s, Skibbereen with three each while newer additions to the list also feature in Coláiste an Spioraid Naoimh and De La Salle Macroom.
But a thumb down through the decades may provide a signpost for the future. The 1950 winners of the competition were also from Cork, and it won’t surprise shrewd judges if their name will be inscribed onto the cup again in the near future. Indeed, at the ceremony this week to honour St Francis College, Rochestown as the April winners of the Rebel Óg Monthly Awards, the chairman of the selection committee Mick Evans said that he would be “stunned” if the school fails to restore past glories.
These are heady times for ‘RoCo’, with two consecutive Corn na gColáistí (Munster U16½B) titles claimed as well as two Cork U14 and one senior B win in the past two years. In addition, they competed in the Corn Uí Mhuirí this season again after a long absence, making it out of their group and into the quarter-finals.
The desire for achievement is instilled at an early age, according to student Kevin Flahive.
“It’s massive, you can see it when you walk in the door,” he says. “There are pictures of teams over many years. It’s a huge tradition in the school and it’s growing more and more.”
Principal Diarmuid Ó Mathúna elaborates on the factors contributing to the school’s recent success.
“The success of the school is directly related to the increase in popularity of the school. The population of the school has grown in recent years and with that we’re attracting a lot of first-class hurlers and footballers too.”
The increase in popularity is down to success in various areas, creating a positive vicious circle.
“We’re doing so well on a number of fronts,” says Ó Mathúna. “Academically, on the sporting front and even last week we had tremendous success in debating.
“We’re recognised as a school with a strong pastoral care ethos, developing the student academically and sports-wise. Success breeds success, without a doubt, on all fronts.”
Of course, any progress depends on teachers’ efforts in extra-curricular activities. Liam Sheehan, coach to the Corn Uí Mhuirí side among others, is happy to dedicate himself to helping the school’s efforts.
“From first year, we try to get them in the frame of mind that they need to train in order to be competitive, this year was a big step up for the senior lads in terms of commitment and that passes on down.
“The younger lads see what it takes to be successful. There’s unbelievable competition in Cork and Kerry, the standard is extremely high, so if you don’t put in the work you’re not going to get any reward.
“We’ve had some players be selected on Cork minor teams recently and it’s a great boost for the guys in first and second year to see that, it gives them something to aim for.”