Croke Cup 

The preparations of St Francis College, Rochestown for Saturday’s Croke Cup (All-Ireland PPS SAHC) quarter-final clash with holders St Kieran’s College of Kilkenny haven’t been conventional, to say the least.

Croke Cup 

In the two weekends prior to this, Rochestown have been involved in the final of the Corn Uí Mhuirí, the top flight in Munster football, drawing the final with Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne before losing last Sunday’s replay.

As manager Aidan Lonergan puts it: “Any sane person looking at the run-in would have to make Kieran’s favourites, they’ve had a Leinster final and two weeks of nothing but hurling training while we’ve played two football finals.”

Prior to the Corn Uí Mhuirí defeat, ‘Roco’ came up short against Thurles CBS in the Dr Harty Cup decider. Not that such a lead-in means that Lonergan, a native of Rosegreen, near Cashel in Tipperary, is raising the white flag ahead of the clash in Dungarvan tomorrow (throw-in 2pm).

“You can’t lose two finals and not be down,” he admits, “but it has almost been surprising to us how well the lads have responded. We got together on Monday for a bit and that was tough, but that’s what you’d expect. Then we had a great session on Wednesday and everybody was upbeat. We’re probably going to be up against it but all we can do is go out and give it a lash.”

Rochestown, who will wear Cork jerseys due to a clash of colours (“I couldn’t get a Tipp set!” jokes Lonergan), played Kieran’s in a challenge in early 2014. While they lost that day, they will try use it to their advantage.

“They gave us a bit of a whipping,” Lonergan says, “and all their form this year shows them to be a hot prospect.

“It’ll be difficult for them going in without thinking that they’re going to beat us and I think that means there’s a bit less pressure on us.

“We played well in patches of the Harty final, even though we lost, and we’ll try improve on that. There’s a lot of hurling left in this team yet.”

Another Cork side, Coláiste Ghobnatán of Baile Bhúirne, are also on the All-Ireland trail this weekend. Having retained the Corn Sheáin Uí Mhurchú (Munster PPS SCFC) with a win over Pobalscoil Inbhear Scéine a fortnight ago, they will start their quest for back-to-back Dr O’Sullivan Cup titles as they face St Louis Grammar School of Kilkeel, Co. Down.

That game is scheduled for Round Towers’ pitch in Kildare town with a 2.30pm throw-in.

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Join us for a special evening of Cheltenham chat on Friday March 12 at 6.30pm with racing legend and Irish Examiner columnist Ruby Walsh, Irish Examiner racing correspondent Tommy Lyons, and former champion jockey and tv presenter Mick Fitzgerald, author of Better than Sex.

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