The Road to the Top Oil Connacht Schools Cup Finals

The Top Oil Connacht Schools Cup finals take place at the Sportsground next Wednesday March 18th, with the Senior final seeing first time finalists Summerhill College Sligo taking on Garbally College at 4pm after the sides emerged in the top two of the five team round robin league format which started in December.

The favourites tag for the competition rests on the shoulders of the Ballinasloe side, Garbally College, based on their league title success and strong form overall in the competition, but their route to the final was far from smooth, and ultimately it was points difference that helped them edge out title holders Sligo Grammar after the two schools tied for second place.

SeniorSemi2Having won the pool, those involved with Summerhill College are entitled to be confident, thanks to their away wins over Marist College and Colaiste Iognaid, and a crucial home victory over Sligo Grammar 11-7 in the final round of the competition last weekend. Summerhill’s lone defeat came at the hands of Garbally in Sligo a fact that simply makes this final all the more fascinating.

For Garbally College, the journey back to the final has been a tricky one thanks in large part to a shock defeat at the hands of a talented and always dangerous Marist College side in Athlone in early February. That result combined with a first round draw away to Sligo Grammar meant that victories over Colaiste Iognaid and Summerhill proved to be absolutely crucial.

The Top Oil Schools Cup Junior final will kick off at 2pm with last year’s beaten finalists CBS Roscommon back in the final for a second year on the bounce and preparing to face the winner of the Garbally College and St Joseph’s College (The Bish) replay in the decider.

Junior Cup Final.

This season’s Junior Cup competition has been compelling and competitive from the outset in mid January. Two pools of eight teams with at least five them ranking as serious title contenders from the very outset.

In Pool 1 Garbally College emerged at the top of the pile with three wins from three having notched up 13 tries and conceded three in those victories. The triumphs over Sligo Grammar (40-14) and reigning champions St Gerald’s Castlebar (28-0) were going to form but it was their 19-8 away win against the Bish that guaranteed a home semi final against the Pool 2 runners up.

Last year’s runners up CBS Roscommon proved a real thorn in the side of opponents during their three pool outings with a powerful display away to Gallen, a hard earned 12-3 win over Colaiste Iognaid (Jes) and a 22-0 win over Marist College.

The battle for second came down to points difference after ‘the Jes’ and Athlone side Marist College drew 3-3 all in their pool game with the Galway school performing better in their other two games and booking a place in the semi finals as a result.

The semi finals included the top three finishers in this season’s Junior Premier League with Colaiste Iognaid the odd one out having won just two of seven league games. That said, the eight team league was hugely competitive.

Junior Semi2 500The semi final clash of St Joseph’s College (the Bish) and CBS Roscommon was a meeting of the top two side’s in that league and promised much. In the end, Roscommon proved too strong, especially in defense, building up a good lead and stifling a very dangerous Bish backline during the second half for a 15-0 lead.

The second semi final needed a replay after the favourites Garbally College were held on home soil by Colaiste Iognaid, the replay on Wednesday then produced the upset of the competition as the very improving Jes got the better of their Ballinasloe opponents in a 10-7 triumph.

 

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