BY DENIS HURLEY
THE lead-up to Wednesday’s Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Senior Cup semi-final against Presentation Brothers College isn’t all work and no play for Bandon Grammar School.
On Friday, they will travel to Dublin to watch Ireland take on France in the Six Nations U20 Championship in Donnybrook – with school alumnus Gavin Coombes set to feature – and then they will stick around for Saturday’s senior international between the countries at the Aviva Stadium.
Head coach Denis Collins feels that striking a balance in the three weeks between the quarter-final win over St Munchin’s College and next Wednesday has been very important.
‘It’ll be a different kind of bonding!’ Collins says of this weekend’s schedule.
‘Everyone will be well-behaved and hopefully they’ll get to see their former team-mate Gavin in action, but it’s nice after a week of heavy training to have another outlet.
‘It’s important that they go out next week with smiles on their faces. Obviously, it’s about working hard – and there has been a lot of hard work to get where they are – but you want to make sure that you get the best out of them too and that they embrace the occasion.’
The scoreline was 39-10 in favour of the Cork city school when Bandon’s campaign ended at the quarter-final stage a year ago, but Collins expects a showing more reflective of his side’s abilities next week.
‘I’ve said it before, that we get better the longer we stay in the competition,’ he says.
‘It’s a huge occasion, obviously, playing in a semi-final for the first time, and Pres have a fine side and a good tradition but there’s no reason for us to fear anyone and we don’t.’
In terms of actually learning from that particular game, there may not be as much value, however.
‘The teams are a lot different,’ Collins says, ‘though obviously you try to learn from each game.
‘The main thing we’d take is that it was an opportunity for a lot of the players to play in Musgrave in front of a big crowd, and hopefully that will help them to adapt to what should be something similar on Wednesday.
‘We’d be hoping to have a lot of support, considering that the team is fairly spread out geographically. It’ll be a huge test but the team are there on merit, they have earned the right to be there, and that should give them a lot of confidence.’