CATHOLIC INSTITUTE will be hoping history repeats itself almost a quarter of a century on as they face the daunting task of toppling unbackable favourites Cork Church of Ireland in Saturday’s Peard Cup final at Rosbrien (1pm).
The Limerick club’s last appearance in a senior men’s cup final was in 1985, when Eddie Cummins hit the winner against C of I on the grass at Garryduff.
It’s been a barren period for Institute since, and last season they even came close to demoting their first team to Division Two due to the hammerings they were taking.
However, it’s been all change at Rosbrien this term; Institute have become a far more difficult side to beat under new coach Ollie O’Connor, as C of I found to their cost back in October.
Having put 11 past Institute in the corresponding fixture the previous term, Stephen Jackson’s side this time laboured to a 2-0 victory, with Institute left kicking themselves as seven penalty corner chances went astray.
Since then, Institute have seen off the second string sides of both C of I and Cork Harlequins en route to this decider, though O’Connor is waxing philosophical about his side’s chances in the St Stephen’s Day showdown.
“I know that (on paper) Institutes could not beat C of I firsts,” he explained. “All you have to do is look at their panel, they have numerous internationals and those that aren’t internationals are current senior interpros or underage interpros.
“Compare that to Institute, who have Simon Brickenden, a Munster U21 interpro – how could we possibly beat C of I? But you know what, funny things happen in sport.”
Giving Institute all the more motivation is the decision to play the final in Limerick – “a first division cup final being played in north Munster is a rare occasion”, admitted O’Connor – while it is also the club’s centenary year.
Standing in their way on Saturday is a C of I team that has found real form in recent weeks after a shaky start to the season, notably in the semi-finals of this competition.
That day, talisman John Jermyn hit their first five goals as they raced into a 6-1 lead against a shell-shocked Cork Harlequins side, eventually running out 7-4 winners.
Peard Cup final: Catholic Institute vs Cork Church of Ireland, Rosbrien, St Stephen’s Day, 1pm.
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