It’s getting to the business end of the Elvery’s Connacht Schools Senior Cup, and there are two big match ups ready to be played. It’s the big four schools in the semi finals, with Colaiste Iognaid, Garbally, Sligo Grammar and Marist again making up the final four. These schools have made up the finalists every year since 2002, with the sole exception coming in 2004 when St. Saran’s of Ferbane upset the applecart to win.

Sligo Grammar v Colaiste Iognaid

Thursday 6th March 2:45pm, Sligo Grammar

We have a replay of the Senior Cup finals from 2009 to 2011 in the first semi final, which happens to be the last time that Colaiste Iognaid prevailed to the Senior Cup final.

Grammar are on an upward curve, having made five Junior or Senior finals in the last 4 years. This year’s senior group is a talented bunch, with four players having represented Connacht this season. They are openside flanker Joe Conway, hooker Joe Bennett and wing Ryan Feehily, with Connacht U18 club captain and Ireland representative Mathew Cosgrove leading the Grammar team from no. 8. Grammar finished top of their pool due to a big win over fellow semi finalist Marist College, with the Sligo school winning out 17-6. Sligo narrowly lost to Garbally in the League final this year, and will be doing all they can to go one better in the cup.

Colaiste Iognaid haven’t made the final since 2011 when Connacht player Aaron Conneely lead them to the title. This years group faces a tough Sligo Grammar side, but will be giving it their all in trying to emulate Conneely’s all conquering 2011 outfit. They have already shown calmness under pressure to beat a Sligo school in this year’s cup, having overcome Summerhill 13-10 in a tie that ultimately settled who qualified to the semi finals between the two schools.

Garbally College v Marist College

Tuesday 11th March, 2pm, Ballinasloe

Garbally College were very impressive in coming through Pool A. They have the most representatives in their squad running down the spine of their team. In the forwards, Peter Claffey leads the pack from second row, ably assisted by Niall Higgins at hooker, Dylan Connolly at flanker and Claffey’s second row partner Sam Holland. Conor Kenny anchors the scrum at tighthead and is a handful in the loose too. Claffey also has Irish representative honours to his name, while much is thought of no. 8 Jack Codyre.

In the backs, Simon Keller directs things from outhalf, with Sean Horan joining him from Connacht representatives. Keep an eye out for fullback Stephen Tierney who was a livewire in the group stage. The gaelic footballer is a counter attacking threat that all teams would be wary of. Colaiste Iognaid and Rice College were victims of this Garbally side in the pool stages, and Marist will have to be on top of their game to stop the Ballinasloe machine.

Defending champions Marist College kicked off their campaign with a huge win over St. Joseph’s winning by 54 points to 7, before coming unstuck against Sligo Grammar and having to settle for second spot and a date in Ballinasloe. Co-Captain Charlie McMickan is one of two Connacht representatives, joined by Conal O’Brien. The other co-captain Conor McGrath featured in the cup winning sides of 2012 and 2013 and will be looking for a rare threepeat. The class of 2014 will look to follow in the footsteps of past pupil Robbie Henshaw, while Jack Carty’s brother Luke will look to guide the team to victory.

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