RUGBY in Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí has ventured into new and exciting territory.
For the first time in the Bantry school’s history, one of its rugby teams has qualified for the Munster Schools Junior Cup after coming through the qualifiers.
Twice in recent seasons the school’s senior team came close to making it through to the Munster Schools Senior Cup, only to be fall at the last hurdle, but now Peter Cawley’s junior team has advanced to the cup competition.
To add to the excitement, Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí have been drawn against Bandon Grammar School in the first round (preliminary), so there’s a huge West Cork derby to look forward to on the week of January 20th.
The winner here moves forward to the second round where Crescent College Comprehensive await.
‘This is a big breakthrough for rugby in the school and there’s great excitement building,’ teacher and coach Peter Cawley says.
‘The school opened in 2011, we spent a few years in the Emerging Schools’ Initiative and we have rapidly developed and improved all the time to the stage where we now have seven teams in the school – two first year boys’ teams, an U15 team, the boys’ junior team and senior team, and two girls’ teams as well.’
Along with Cawley, Sean Donegan (senior), David O’Donovan and Ivan Kingston (first year boys and U15 boys) and Aoife O’Callaghan and Sharon O’Sullivan (girls’ teams) are all involved in coaching rugby in the school, and all that hard work is paying off.
To reach this stage of the Munster Schools Junior Cup, Bantry beat both Clonmel High School and Villiers School in Limerick, defeating the latter 39-5 at Irish Independent Park in the Junior Cup qualifier final.
This signifies an important moment for rugby in Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí, as the sport continues to grow and thrive in West Cork.
With students from Durrus to Ballingeary and Glengarriff to Kealkill, and the majority lining out with the local Bantry Bay RFC, rugby is growing in popularity. In recent times Kealkill brothers, Fineen and Josh Wycherley, have made waves with Munster and the Ireland U20s, the former coming on against Saracens in the Champions Cup last weekend.
Another set of Bantry brothers, Tadhg and Paudie McCarthy, have also represented Ireland at underage level.
In the current Coláiste Pobail Bheanntraí team, number eight Fionn Barry is the captain while the talented Daire Kingston, who plays with Skibbereen RFC, is involved with the Munster regional development programme.
‘This is going to be a huge school occasion in January and we’re all looking forward to it. The fact that we will be playing Bandon Grammar adds another layer to it too because it’s a West Cork derby,’ says Cawley, who has played with Corinthians in Galway and had a short spell with Skibbereen RFC where he now coaches the U16s.
‘We’ve been going well in the Mungret Shield too, had our final group game against Midleton CBS this week and we have the knock-out phase to look forward to after Christmas, so it’s going to be a busy new year, but that’s what we want.’
Meanwhile, in the Munster Schools Senior Cup, Bandon Grammar School are in Round 2 and they await the winner of the first round game between Rockwell College and High School Clonmel.