10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
The lineage and luminaries of both colleges - relating both to past and present rugby internationals and administrators - is impressive: Noel A. Murphy, Donal Lenihan, Fergus Aherne Terry Kingston and Dominic Crotty figure prominently in CBC's rich rugby story, while PBC's more recent graduates form the corner stone of the present extended 'Young Ireland' Senior squad regime including Ronan O' Gara, Peter Stringer, Frank Sheahan and Anthony Horgan. Indeed for this much anticipated clash another Stringer/ O' Gara partnership has sprung up on the Mardyke: David Stringer and Morgan O'Gara could form Pres' halfback partnership, and while their older duo have formed an almost telepathic understanding on the international stage, manager Don O'Mahony has observed their partnership since they first passed ball out in their Wilton complex.
"Their partnership has grown over the years since they came into first year and we are not certain yet whether they'll be our half back paring or not. We haven't put our finishing touches to preparations yet."
PBC's winter form and their 53-6 annihilation of St. Nessan's in the quarter-final have made them strong contenders to annex the Munster Senior Cup for the first time since 1996 when Tim Cahill captained a side master-minded by Ireland's new assistant coach Declan Kidney. Indeed Kidney's CV makes for impressive reading in his formative years as a coach, masterminding five senior Cup tiles between 1991 and '96, a sequence interrupted only by Crescent Comprehensive in 1994.
It was there that the infamous Stringer O'Gara partnership was at its embryonic stage, and O'Mahony hopes that their younger brothers can equal such feats on Munster Senior Cup day. Morgan O'Gara could find himself in the centre as Munster Schoolboy Barry Keeshan has being kicking impressively particularly in their emphatic victory over the Limerick school. And as Pres like to do things in twos, a filial representation manifests in the back row when twins John and Henry O'Flynn pack down behind a front five that are playing consistently all season.
Pres already have the Barry Cup locked away in the cabinet and claimed bragging rights - at least for a week - over CBC in a titanic struggle in late January. Some of that team will add to their existing first fifteen who are bolstered also by the returning David O' Leary from injury. Already some of the Irish and Munster panel and old boys such as Ralph Keyes and Olan Kelleher have returned to their alma mater to pass on a few hints and will no doubt add some psychological weight to this present PBC side.
Across town, CBC's build up has been more muted. A mediocre winter campaign flowered somewhat in their bruising 19-0 quarter final victory over Crescent when there were some impressive personal performances. Tomas O' Leary, who has done a great balancing act between captaining Cork to an All-Ireland minor title and combining his GAA talent with some innate rugby skills, is the pivot of this youthful Christian's side. His father Seanie played hurling with Cork, and though many of Munster's top hurling colleges have chased Tomas' services, the prodigious 18-year-old has stuck around to try and win his second senior cup medal with his beloved CBC. A born scrum-half, O'Leary switched to stand-off in the quarter final thus leaving a place for the diminutive but richly talented Duncan Williams. Williams was at No. 9 on Christians when they overcame PBC to win another Bowen Shield title (Munster U16 A Colleges). A number of that squad have also joined up to bolster CBC's squad including Darragh Hurley, Billy Holland (son of Munster manager Jerry) and No.8 Michael Essex, all of whom have made a smooth transition to top level schools rugby.
Captained by flanker Liam Quaid, CBC will need to be at their best to outgun favourites Pres, but Christians' recent history in the competition makes for interesting reading: they are the only college to win, not only one, but two four-in-a-rows between 1971 and 1974 and between 1997 and 2000. Though missing out heart-breakingly for 'the five' last year, CBC top the roll-of-honour list with 26 Cups to PBC's 25.
For their most recent 4-in-a-row CBC were coached by present Munster Branch Chief Executive Garrett Fitzgerald but, since then, Tommie Crowe has taken over the reins alongside long-standing manager Greg Aherne.
This, most anticipated of local rivalries, comes around maybe once a year.
Get ready for a classic.