Record-chasing Presentation Brothers College aren’t letting the lure of another Munster Schools Senior Cup final get in the way of their preparations.
Beaten in the semi-final 12 months ago, the temptation to look ahead to a showpiece against old rivals CBC is one the Cork side are trying to overcome.
With 29 titles, they are joint-top of the all-time roll of honour, alongside rivals Christian Brothers College.
Impressive, but far from flawless, in their quarter-final win over Rockwell College, Pres know a top performance will be needed to get over Bandon Grammar, the team that set has this competition on fire to date. Bandon overcame Glenstal in a replay in their quarter-final.
Having started the quarter-final win over the Cashel school poorly, PBC will be looking to get out of the blocks quickly in this one. In that win, they trailed by 6-0 early on, but were lucky that it was two penalties, and not two tries, they had conceded, as they were under the cosh in the first quarter.
After they got a foothold in the game, they dominated, crossing for five tries, while conceding none, in a comprehensive 31-9 victory.
However, Pres, as much as anyone, know that a good early-round performance means little going forward. Just last year, they reached the semi-final with a 67-7 win over Ardscoil Ris, before bowing out against CBC in the last four.
“We know from last year, there’s no final reached in any quarter-final win,” said PBC coach Brian McMahon.
“There’s another 70 minutes in front of us and we’re only focused on the first 10 minutes of the next game, nothing else, that’s it.”
That focus on the early exchanges will be emphasised in the build-up for PBC, as they look to improve on the one aspect of the quarter-final where they were outplayed.
“They started at 100 miles an hour, put us under pressure,” McMahon admitted, reflecting on the win over Rockwell. “We were really under the cosh for the first 15-20 minutes, until we got to grips with the game.
“We’ve learned our lessons from last year, we didn’t make it to the final. You can’t look beyond the first 10 minutes of the next game, plain and simple.”
Those first 10 minutes promise to be tense, with Bandon Grammar chasing history of their own, as they look to win this competition for the first time.
Showing impressive character to dethrone the defending champions in the replay after conceding an injury-time try in the draw, Bandon coach Andre Human will also be looking for his players to make a bright start.
“It’s good to be back in the semi-final for the second time in three years. We will continue to take it game-by-game,” cautioned experienced South African coach Human.
“We know we will be outsiders against Pres, but look, nobody coaches a team to lose a game. We will train and prepare as well as we always do.”