City split by clash of colours as Pres meet old rivals Christians

The rivalry between two Cork schools, Christian Brothers and Presentation Brothers, has been well documented. The disputes and battle for bragging writes in an ongoing battle for supremacy will continue beyond today’s Munster Senior Cup semi-final.

City split by clash of colours as Pres meet old rivals Christians

Munster Schools Senior Cup

semi-final

Today: Musgrave Park, 2pm

But a lot of it stems from the past.

Yesterday, former Presentation pupil and 1982 Irish Triple Crown hero, Moss Finn, one of the men who helped Munster bring down the mighty All Blacks at Thomond Park on October 31 was recalling a moment in the schools final of 1974 when Christians “sneaked” through by nine points to six because, he explained, the referee had failed to spot one of the Pres team scoring at the Sunday’s Well corner before a CBC opponent kicked the ball away into touch.

Try disallowed or, as he says, not awarded.

Then there was Alex O’Regan, the CBC scrum-half of 1976 (also of 1975, when Finn helped Pres to break up a run of four CBC victories). The Carrigaline-based dentist dropped a goal from “inches” out deep in injury-time to secure a 13-12 win for his school who came back from 12-3 down at the interval.

Those were the days of high drama and more; when pupils from the winning school crossed the city en masse to show off the trophy and taunt their opponents. Many of the players then ended up playing as team-mates in UCC or other city clubs and all was (supposedly) forgotten.

But O’Regan disputes that it was all in the past, noting that a former UCC playing colleague who was on that beaten Pres team of 1976 is still wounded having lost a schools game more than 40 years ago.

But, he insisted, the rivalry was an essential part of life in schools rugby and in Cork particularly.

He explained: “I would have known a lot of the Pres guys, some of them from national school; there was Davie Gough, for instance, who went off with concussion during that match. Barry Jones was another guy from my national school in Ballinlough, but he went to Pres so there would have been an element of knowing some of the guys we played against as well as all the guys on our team.”

Hero of the hour as he was — a key figure in the CBC second-half revival was winger Jim Crotty. O’Regan takes no huge credit for the victory other, of course, than the winning drop goal.

“From what I remember — and I had a migraine for the duration of the match rather than concussion, as was reported at the time — I contributed nothing to the game apart from the late score.” O’Regan came close, but never closer than an unfeatured reserve for the Irish national team.

Finn, a sprinter and a player with an ability to play in more than one backline position, fared much better.

These days, Finn is co-owner of the iconic family-owned Finn’s Corner drapery/sports shop in Cork city centre. He had his regrets about 1974 but none about the following year when Pres advanced to a final against Rockwell and emerged as deserved winners. In their number was, Jimmy Bowen (another hero of Munster’s victory over the All Blacks three years later) and Brian Clifford, who was an Irish Olympic swimmer.

All three played on the first- ever Irish Schools team later in that 1975 season against England at Lansdowne Road. Ireland lost 3-6 to an England.

Finn deals with current and past pupils from both schools on an ongoing basis, and he loves the banter that goes with the rivalry.

“Looking back to when I was in Pres, we had a five-year cycle, Christians had a six-year cycle and we seemed to be caught because of that. Look, when we played them in the final of 1974, they were raging-hot favourites, but on the day I felt we outplayed them. However, we were beaten and that pretty much sums up what can happen in games such as this between the two schools — always close and never predictable.

“In this city, it will continue for a long time to come.”

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