Christians wary of Glenstal challenge

AFTER the shock exit of holders PBC, Christian Brothers College find themselves as hot favourites to add another Avonmore Munster Schools Senior Cup title to an impressive haul of trophies won over the decades.

Tomorrow, at Clanwilliam (3pm), outsiders Glenstal Abbey stand between Christians and a place in the decider against surprise package Castletroy College.

But with the shock defeat of Pres still sending tremors through the schools game in the province, Christians are unlikely to treat this challenge in any way other than a serious one.

Overconfidence won’t figure, said CBC coach Peter Melia, who had his spies in attendance when Glenstal rocked a decent Crescent Comprehensive side with a last gasp penalty to secure a 6-5 victory.

In as much as Castetroy’s win over Pres was a hugely positive blow for the smaller school, Glenstal raised a few eyebrows with a thoroughly workmanlike performance following an uneasy start.

In the end, while victory came late, it was a deserved triumph for a team that refused to lie down.

The hero was out half, Mike O’Flynn who knocked over that crucial penalty from almost half way, and his line kicking was an even more impressive feature of a five-star performance.

In that sense, Christians will have to be wary, particularly if loose head prop Duncan Casey, who had a great game against Crescent, can come to grips with a stern challenge at scrum time from Jack Bransfield, or if backs Finbarr Casey, Ben Bradley and Cathal Hughes can be provided with a reasonable supply of possession.

Melia observed: “Glenstal aren’t a big team but they thrive on the collective and on a hard work ethic. They’ll be well organised and tenacious and we won’t underestimate them.”

Christians, beaten finalists last season, have already proved durable by overcoming Ard Scoil Rís on a horrible day at the Mardyke last month.

It was a rugged encounter but if Christians sometimes struggled to see off the challenge before winning 13-6, it would be unfair to criticise given the appalling conditions that made positive rugby very difficult.

In fact it was about cutting down on mistakes and taking any available chances. Christians came up trumps on both counts and scored the only try of the game through Odhran Mulrooney, who contributed the entire 13 points.

Christians would appear to have plenty to offer in the back division. They will expect to dominate Glenstal up front, and if that happens they should secure a relatively comfortable victory.

Christians have managed to avoid injury and Melia yesterday named an unchanged starting team — the only change being the return from injury of Munster and Ireland Schools second row Brian Hayes to take his place on the bench.

Glenstal have made two changes in personnel with Ray Fullam coming in on the right wing for Aran Duff and Peter Lynch upgraded to the pack for Rory Madden.

That second move has prompted more positional switches, with Owen Grennan moving to the back row to facilitate the arrival of Lynch. Theo Lambton also moves from the second row to number eight in a direct switch with Daniel Heffernan

GLENSTAL: B. Bradley, R. Fullam, F. Carney, C. Hughes (captain), D. Costello, M. O’Flynn, J. Hunt, D. Casey, JJ Clarke, P. Lynch, D. Heffernan, C. O’Connor, O. Grennan, T. Lambton, B. Costigan.

CBC: O. Mulrooney, D. Loftus, J. Holland, B. O’Regan, B. O’Leary, P. Parfrey, D. Foley, C. Corkery, K. Stokes, J. Bransfield, J. Mulcahy, K. O’Dwyer, J. Crowley, B. O’Callaghan (captain), W. Ryan.

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