Top Oil Connacht Schools Junior Cup Final Preview

CBS Roscommon v Colaiste Iognaid, Sportsground, Wednesday 2pm

If this final turns out to be half as entertaining as last season’s thrilling decider, then getting to the Sportsground early on Wednesday will prove a rewarding experience. CBS Roscommon are back for a second season in a row looking to make history for their school and county but standing in their way are a Galway city school very much on the path of rejuvenation in the shape of Colaiste Iognaid.

TopOil SCFLast year, St Gerald’s Castlebar won the title for the first time in their history thanks in large part to a blistering start but they only got their hands on the trophy after withstanding a ferocious comeback from a CBS Roscommon side playing in their first ever final at that point. All told, they learned quite a lot and came back this season to win the Junior Premier League before Christmas and sweep their pool with three wins from three.

In the semi finals, CBS Roscommon demonstrated their highly regarded defensive organisation by holding out a very strong Bish side and winning 15-0 to reach the decider. They will play the runners up in their pool in that final, the Jes lost 12-3 to the Roscommon school in January but bounced back to finish second before causing a minor upset in knocking out Pool 1 winners Garbally College in the semi finals after a replay.

The Jes have been prolific at Senior level, third on the all time list with 12 titles, five of which came in an incredible seven year run between 2005 and 2011. The challenges since then have been stark. Changing dynamics in government support for teachers involved with sport is having an effect but the school has gone back to basics, working from first years up and it seems to be paying off.

On Wednesday, the Jes will be going for their fifth title and first since 1987. The Junior grade hasn’t offered as much success as the senior grade down through the years but that might change over the next decade as the Galway school goes back to basics, standing in their path are a force to be reckoned with in the shape of CBS Roscommon. Unbeaten since the opening round of the league and armed with the lessons garnered from last year.

Aidan Farrell – CBS Roscommon Manager

“The season has gone very well, winning the league was an important early season marker, we beat a good Bish side in the final having lost to them in the opening league game and we had to beat them again in the Cup semi final so we’ve overcome some difficult challenges.

“This year’s final is a very different kettle of fish to last year, a lot of the side return from that defeat to St Geralds. It was a great game to be apart of but I think we froze a little at the start. We were underdogs playing a very strong side and it took us a while to get going. This year we have focused on our own game and since that opening game we have gone on a really good run.”

Stephen Parkinson – Colaiste Iognaid Head Coach

“It has been a great competition this year, very competitive with six or seven contenders from the outset. We didn’t finish strongly in the league but our approach during those games was to use the full squad and get everybody involved, it was a good learning process for us. The pool stages of the cup went well, our only loss was to CBS Roscommon 12-3 and I think both sides can improve on their performances in that display.

“I don’t think we have gone into any game this year without at least one injury, we almost did for the semi final replay against Garbally but then we lost our out half and captain Diarmuid Codyre  just15 minutes before kick off. He had scored all 13 points in the drawn game. Yet still, Adam Cunningham, our regular full back, stepped in and did superbly well. It has been that kind of season, so it is a real lift to make the final.”

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