Glenstal Abbey head coach Sean Skehan is optimistic the school can finally break their duck in the Clayton Hotels Munster Schools’ Senior Cup when they meet CBC Cork in tomorrow’s decider at Musgrave Park (4pm).
Glenstal have been worthy opponents for the leading schools over many decades but have nothing by way of silverware to show for their efforts. Two final appearances was as good as it got in their bid to etch the school name on this prized trophy.
Over the years, they have had to play second fiddle to bigger schools like Cork giants CBC and PBC, as well as Rockwell and to a lesser extent Crescent and St Munchin’s.
Those two final appearances, against Rockwell in 1970 (they lost after a replay) and the other last year against PBC, have been the only highs for the Murroe establishment.
But Skehan is hopeful that tomorrow there will be some reward for undoubted endeavour throughout those barren years.
“The first piece of good news is that this squad are fit and raring to go. There are no injuries of any serious nature to worry about.”
He sees that as a good start: “You always worry about having your first-choice team selection disrupted.
“Happily that’s not the case; there are just some bruises after a physical semi-final game against Crescent, nothing more, and actually I think it’s the first time this season that everyone is fit and available for selection.”
Last year there was both delight and disappointment for all associated with rugby in the school.
“We were thrilled to perform so well as to make it to a final, but disappointed at the outcome of course,” said Skehan.
“Now, it’s just great to be back even though again we’re facing up against a massive (rugby) institution; CBC are on 29 cups, while we’re trying to get one on the board and move on from there.
“I think, I hope, we will be a lot more composed than we were in the final against Pres last year because it was such a new experience then, but we have players that were there and will be the better for it.
“In a sense, I hope they (CBC) don’t see us as such a big threat because they must clearly be favourites. The school hasn’t won 29 cups by accident, they know how to win trophies and tradition has to count for something.
“However, we feel we are now in our second successive final on merit and not by chance; I think it will be a really close game even if Christians have a lot going for them being at home and on an emotional high after their last-minute win over Pres.”
Skehan referred to the physicality of the Christians pack as a challenge to overcome but insisted his charges would not be overawed.
“We’re looking at ourselves and we’re confident we have the ability to produce. We have pretty good players and indeed four of them will be involved with Ireland Schools after the completion of the cup.
The team is well balanced and after last year we have further progressed rather than regressed following the loss. This season we have played 17 games and won 15 of them; the two defeats were one-score games, one of them against St Michael’s who had been hotly fancied to win the Leinster Schools Cup until being beaten by holders Belvedere.
“We also lost to Rockwell in the Limerick City Cup final (29-22) and that was probably the making of us in terms of being determined to grow as a team; since that game we have played 11 and lost just the once to Michael’s.
“We feel we are in a good place, playing well and the lads are highly motivated to be sure.
“Having said all that, such records will count for nothing if we lose Sunday; we have to go out and do it and finish the season on a huge high.”
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