PBC are locked on 28 titles with fierce local rivals CBC Cork and can nudge ahead in the roll of honour with victory today, while Rockwell College are hoping it’s third time lucky for them.
The Tipperary school were vanquished in the last two deciders — the latter by PBC on a 22-10 scoreline — but coach Mark Butler is hoping to turn those experiences into a positive as they seeking a 24th title, and a first since 2001.
“We’ve eight guys involved from last year, two of whom have played in two finals. We’d like to think they’d bring a fair amount of experience to the rest of the squad and to the day itself,” he said.
“(However), in all our games we’ve been slow starters. Pres are a very strong unit, they’ve a huge pack and they really like to take teams on up front so if we’re not switched on, they could be scoring points quite early, which was the case last year.”
The loss of talismanic Rockwell lock Sean McCarthy — who broke an arm during their 13-9 semi-final win over CBC Cork, and will be replaced by exciting prospect Neville Flynn — evens out the forward battle somewhat, according to PBC coach Peter Scott, who nonetheless envisages threats from all over the pitch.
“Rockwell clearly all know their own jobs, and they’ve a lot of power and dangerous runners. That makes them a threat just about everywhere,” he said.
Central to that effort will be back-row colossus Luke Cahill, while full-back Donogh McGillicuddy offers the wide threat and scrum-half Brian Haugh dictates what Scott terms a “lovely tempo”. For PBC, skipper Ryan Murphy dominates the back row, while the midfield trio of Eamon Mills, Ross Caplice and Rory Scannell have linked brilliantly thus far in this campaign.
But Scott is happy to keep a lid on expectations: “We weren’t mentioned as one of the favourites before this tournament, so we’re going in without that pressure, which is always nice.”
PBC are sweating on the availability of wing James Kiernan — son of former British and Irish Lions great Michael — and Ireland U-18 Schools prop Brian Scott, but both are expected to be fit.
S Glynn; S Dinan, R Scannell, R Caplice, J Kiernan; E Mills, C Bannon; B Scott, W Foley, K Kingston; P Derham, J Fitzgerald; A Hudson, J Duffy, R Murphy (capt).
D McGillicuddy; S Horgan, H McNulty, K Kiely, R Jermyn; C Holland, B Haugh; C O’Donnell (capt), D Mulcahy, MJ Murphy; N Flynn, A O’Sullivan; R Moran, L Cahill, S Dwyer.
Replacements: A Sweeney, E Phelan, D Kennedy, C Ryan, L McGrane, A Lynch, D Johnston.