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Rockwell And Ardscoil In Senior Cup Showdown

16th March 2015 By Munster Rugby

Rockwell And Ardscoil In Senior Cup Showdown

Ardscoil Rís and Rockwell College clash in the 106th final of the SEAT Munster Schools Senior Cup at Thomond Park on Tuesday capping off a vintage season of Senior Cup rugby in the province (ko 2pm).

Ardscoil Rís and Rockwell College clash in the 106th final of the SEAT Munster Schools Senior Cup at Thomond Park on Tuesday capping off a vintage season of Senior Cup rugby in the province (ko 2pm).

A win for Rockwell would deliver a 26th Senior Cup to the Tipperary school while Ardscoil continue their quest for their first ever title. In fact, Ardscoil have only ever competed in two previous finals – the first in 1996 and their second final appearance last year ended in defeat to Crescent College Comprehensive.

It has been a real rollercoaster campaign for Ardscoil with out-half Conor Fitzgerald kicking dramatic last-gasp penalties against CBC and then PBC in the quarter and semi-finals to secure their passage to the decider. In contrast, Rockwell have enjoyed a relatively smooth journey to the final as they saw off St. Munchin’s College and Glenstal Abbey without the need for any last-minute heroics.""Ardscoil captain Ty Chan gets past CBC's Daniel Walsh

Ardscoil coach Mossy Lawler was involved in both of the school’s previous final appearances, as a player in 1996 and as coach last season. The former Munster player departs the school at the end of the season to concentrate on his recent appointment to the role of Elite Player Development Officer with Connacht. And he’s hoping to sign off with a win on Tuesday.

“It’s not about me, I just want the win for the lads,” says Lawler. “To say they’ve put in hard work since the start of last season is an understatement. They’re a terrific bunch and I want to see them rewarded for the work they’ve put in.

“I’ve coached two Junior Cup teams with Antone Meaney and we were finalists the last two years. For some of the lads this is their fourth final, believe it or not, and they’ve had three losses. So I think it’s about time they put things right for themselves rather than anybody else.

“I’m really looking forward to the game and hopefully we can get the result we’ve all been working hard for,” Lawler added.

Rockwell head coach Mark Butler knows all about the build-up to the Senior Cup final as he leads the school into their sixth decider in seven years.

""“I suppose it’s hard to think about the final and everything that goes with the day up until now because we’ve been so focused on each round at a time,” says Butler. “When you’re walking through the corridors, you see and hear that bit of extra buzz around the place but I suppose it’s really about preparing the team for a performance and a game rather than an occasion.
Rockwell captain Seán O'Connor after the semi-final
“We’re blessed with some good players but it’s very much a squad effort. We’ve got a lot of talented and hard-working players throughout the squad so hopefully that will stand to us.

“I think we’re moving along nicely and you’d like to think we’d save our best performance to last but that remains to be seen.”

And what does Butler make of Ardscoil’s thrilling route to the final? “One thing’s for sure, they’ve shown great character coming through the rounds. Drawing the two Cork schools in consecutive games is never easy in the Schools Cup and the manner in which they won those games, you can’t but admire that. They’ve got a lot of mental toughness, they’re a very well coached side and they have a lot of influential players as well so they fully deserve their place in the final.”

Butler is delighted to have a superb coaching team that includes two-time European Cup and Grand Slam winner Denis Leamy.

Denis is a great guy to work with,” says Butler. “Obviously a fella who has achieved what he has in the game brings a huge amount of experience. I think we have a very good working relationship and I think we’re on the phone to each other possibly more than our wives would like! To be able to tap into Denis’s experience and learn from him is fantastic from my own point of view and I know the players wouldn’t mind me speaking for them in that regard as well.”""Glenstal's George O'Hara tackles Lee Molloy

Mossy Lawler is hopeful the experience of last year’s defeat at the last hurdle will stand his side in good stead on Tuesday as they look to make history with a first ever Senior Cup win.

“There are six players left from last season so the backbone of the team still has the lads from last year. It was new to everybody last year and no-one had any experience of playing at that level or in that surrounding so hopefully this time it won’t phase them. Last year I think it got to them a bit but with the experience of the lads in the squad I don’t think it should this year,” Lawler added.


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