Last week’s five-year plan to revitalise Cork football included a section on second-level schools.
Coláiste Chríost Rí’s victory over Pobalscoil Chorca Dhuibhne in 2011 was the last time a Cork side claimed victory in the Corn Uí Mhuirí, the top-tier of senior football in Munster.
Since then, Corca Dhuibhne won four titles in-a-row before back-to-back wins for St Brendan’s College and then another victory for the Dingle school. In that time, three of the seven defeated finalists have been from Cork – De La Salle Macroom in 2012 and 2014 and then St Francis College of Rochestown in 2015, losing to Corca Dhuibhne after a replay.
‘Roco’ do have a Corn to their name, back in 1950, but since their re-admission to the competition at the beginning of this decade they have managed to constantly compete in the latter stages.
Going all the way is the aim and today they clash with Ballincollig’s Coláiste Choilm in a quarter-final in Ballygarvan. Selector Éamonn Hennessy would obviously like to be part of a winning effort that ended Cork’s drought, though the focus is on more immediate matters.
“I suppose it doesn’t come into play until you get to a stage where you’re in a position to win it,” he says of possibly ending the title famine.
“For now, it’s just about the next match. I did have a quick look at the (Cork GAA) document and it mentioned Corn Uí Mhuirí success, but it didn’t specify exactly what that would entail – does that mean winning it every second year or is it having four or five schools qualifying for the knockout stages on a regular basis? We reached Corn Uí Mhuirí level in 2010 and we’ve qualified in all but two years since then, so we’ve been consistent but obviously we want to push on to the next level. We’d all love to see a Cork team winning the competition as it would give a great psychological boost for further, going into games where they’re representing Cork without any hang-ups.”
Rochestown topped Group A before Christmas, beating neighbours Críost Rí and Tralee CBS, who claimed second place as they beat Críost Rí.
Maintaining momentum since then has been a challenge, but Hennessy is pleased with how his charges are progressing.
“Obviously, things were a bit stop-start with holidays, but that’s the nature of it,” he says. “We stayed active, it’s a help we’re involved in the hurling and the football so that keeps things bubbling along. We’ve only had a couple of sessions and we know that Coláiste Choilm are going to be tough opponents.
We had a narrow win over them in the Simcox Cup semi-final before Christmas and we’ve met them at senior level quite a bit over the past few years, there are never more than a few points in it.
Roco have 10 dual players. A win over Kinsale CS earned them a place in the semis of the Corn Thomáis Mhic Choilm, the second-tier hurling competition, and Hennessy is satisfied both codes are feeding off each other.
“There’s huge co-operation,”he says. “The main thing is to make sure that we’re not overworking them.”