Castletroy have made extraordinary progress in the few years since they entered the fray, but even the most optimistic of their supporters will hardly be tempted to have a flutter.
Although friendly fixtures don’t always indicate what might happen in the white heat of cup rugby, Pres had a comfortable victory over their rivals a few months ago.
However, Castletroy coach Martin Burke is hoping his charges will do themselves justice. Their exit to an experienced St Munchin’s side by just two points in last season’s quarter-final suggests they won’t be intimidated by more experienced opposition.
While supporters will point to strike-runners like centre Diarmuid McCarthy (capped by Irish Schools on the wing this season) and Darren Moroney as being potential individual stars, coach Burke describes the team as nicely balanced and strong and steady rather than a collection of individual stars.
With a semi-final place in the bag for the first time — they beat Rockwell 14-8 in the quarter-final — it has been a good year for Castletroy and they will be hoping to punch above their weight again against PBC.
Presentation coach Don Buckley expects nothing less. “I suppose lots of people will have us down as raging hot favourites, but we’re not thinking that way at all. It would be foolish to make assumptions when you’re playing a cup match in Limerick against local opposition,” he said.
Buckley also noted that Castletroy, in both the senior and junior semi-finals, would feel they are flying high and pointed out that there was very little between success and failure in rugby.
He was relieved to see his side survive a second-half scare in the last round against St Munchin’s. “If ever there was a wake up call, that was it. We took the foot off the pedal in the second-half and could have lost the game although I feel we deserved to win.
“It was a timely scare and the lads are under no illusions as to what to expect. There must be an overall improvement and I suppose the most important factor could be the level of experience in our team,” Buckley added.
Pointing out that 11 of the 22 had featured in last season’s successful run, Buckley cautioned: “That can be a good thing or a bad thing in that the experience is beneficial but then the team could be a little less hungry because they had done it all before. I’m hoping experience will work in our favour and I don’t think there will be any degree of over-confidence after the scare we got against St Munchin’s.”
CASTLETROY COLLEGE: C. Joyce-Power, D. Moroney, K. Clancy, D. McCarthy, C. Dillon, D. Byrne, P. Murray, C. Laffan, P. Hogan, S. Murphy, P. Dooley (captain), D. Frawley, K. Doyle, E. Sweeney, D. Bonfil.
Replacements: D. Quinlan, J. Rael, M. O’Dwyer, M. Hanrahan, D. Hannan, A. Carey, P. O’Connor.
PBC: G. Nugent, J. McCarthy, K. Kidney, C. Fitzgerald, S. Zebo, C. O’Flynn, D. O’Driscoll, B. Cagney, P. Kelleher, P. O’Donovan, D. Lucey, J. Coyne, C. Murphy, P. O’Mahony (captain), B. O’Hara.
Replacements: C. Hartnett, I. Mullarkey, P. Ryan, R. O’Donovan, E. Derham, E. Murphy, C. Desmond.