The Munster Schools Senior and Junior Cup campaigns begin this week with five matches in both competitions.
Interestingly the same schools clash in the opening rounds of both meaning a double programme of games at each of five venues.
Rockwell begin the defence of the Senior Cup on Thursday when Bandon Grammar School visit Clanwilliam Park while CBC, holders of the Junior equivalent, face a difficult assignment against Crescent Comprehensive at Thomond Park this afternoon.
Two matches will be refereed by women – Thursday’s Limerick senior “derby” between St Munchin’s and Ardscoil Ris by former Ireland international Joy Neville and Wednesday’s junior clash of St Clements and PBC by Amanda Greensmith.
The Munster championship has been compared unfavourably with its Leinster equivalent for several years, not least because the Dublin-based schools with their huge numbers appear able to produce more highly skilled players for their provincial set-up.
The point was well made at the week-end when several members of the Leinster side that defeated Bath in the European Champions Cup emerged from the schools system in the last three years.
As against that, Anthony Foley pointed out that four recent graduates from the academy figured for Munster against Stade Francais. And Tony Smith, Chairman of the Munster Schools Branch, is optimistic that the flow of talent will be maintained by the current crop of schools stars.
“Our top schools invariably come up with three or four outstanding players every year, you only have to look at the names that have come through the schools system to appreciate that,” he said
“Munster won the schools interprovincial championship last season and a number of that side went onto the provincial academy. I am satisfied we are going in the right direction. We have made some very significant changes to the system, such as giving each side a second chance as it were. We have five matches this week and each loser will get to play at least one more game in the competition. We always felt that to be knocked out after just one outing was unfair.”
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