In Cork two rugby nurseries, a mere 2km apart, Schools Cup legends linger long in the memory.
When they face one another, victories are cherished all the more — and the defeats are harder to forget. One of the most famous meetings between the pair came in 1974 when Christians sneaked a 9-6 win to complete the four in a row of Munster Senior Schools Cups.
“To this day I could remember graphically a mistake that was made — or a mistake that a referee made,” recalls Moss Finn, one of the best players to don the famous black and white of PBC.
“It does resonate with you and stay with you and I can remember it graphically and that was the best part of 45 years ago. We had a couple of disallowed tries.”
Pres won the Cup in 1975 beating Rockwell, before losing the final 12 months later, getting one over their rivals from the Wellington Road.
“I remember going back to the times of Alex O’Regan’s drop goal in ’76 — Pres had done everything to win it that day and next thing it was stolen by an Alex O’Regan drop goal,” Finn says, recalling another famous moment from this rivalry.
Fast-forward to the modern day and once again it is these two rugby nurseries facing off with the top prize on the line.
“It means a lot for bragging rights — when you are young it is your entire world. (The rivalry) has never lost that lustre. There is a great rivalry and it is a healthy rivalry. At that time in your life you think it is the world’s worst thing that can happen if you are beaten by CBC.”
Tomorrow it is time for the class of 2019 to write their own history. With the schools locked at the top of the roll of honour with 29 titles apiece, there is an added pressure.
“There’s pressure on the young fellas, that’s what they have trained for. They probably trained a lot harder than we trained,” Finn admits.
“While sometimes you’re nervous in a dressing room before a match and you might think it’s the last place in the world you want to be but once you get out onto the pitch, all the nerves are gone.”
While the traditional big two are at the top of the pack this year, another Cork school are making strides at Senior Cup level.
Bandon Grammar were denied a spot in the final at the death against Pres. A late converted saw the West Cork school bow out after a noteworthy campaign which saw them knock out Glenstal Abbey after two outstanding Senior Cup matches.
Despite the history and tradition between Pres and Christians, Finn is happy to see another Cork school mixing it with the big boys.
“It broadens the base and the bigger the base, the better. That’s very good because in these times it is great have an endemic situation — you are breeding your own to play for Munster and that’s very important,” he says.
“If we can fill indigenously 80-90% of Munster players in the years to come it’s great. It’s great to see a West Cork base contributing handsomely to that.”
While Bandon are a team to watch out for in the future, the present, as did much of the past, belongs to Pres and Christians.
“It’s a great occasion for them to be involved in to see what it means,” Finn says of tomorrow’s final. “Tradition doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a great tradition to be involved in wearing the black and white or wearing the yellow stripe. It’s great that we have a chance to see another (Pres v Christians) final — one that will follow in that great tradition.”
Eight greats who have sampled the rivalry
Some of the greatest players to have played in the Munster Senior Cup have represented PBC and CBC. Here Moss Finn selects some of the big names to have worn the famous colours of Pres and Christians
Barry McGann (PBC)
“Probably the greatest ever schoolboy,” is how Moss Finn described the Pres legend. One of the finest players to come out of Cork, McGann played 25 times for Ireland.
Donal Lenihan (CBC)
Of this parish, Donal Lenihan is widely regarded as one of the best players to ever come out of CBC. He twice won Triple Crowns with Ireland “and probably did it single-handedly because he was the main ball winner,” according to Finn.
Michael Bradley (PBC)
Bradley wore the black and white of PBC before graduating to the Munster and then Ireland set-ups. “I would put Michael Bradley on any team He was a wonderful player, an abrasive talent,” Finn said of the scrum-half. “You could imagine him and McGann playing together. They would be very complementary to each other.”
Garrett Fitzgerald (CBC)
Known later for his administrative role as CEO of Munster, Fitzgerald played Senior Cup rugby with Christians. “As a schoolboy, Garret Fitzgerald was one of the greats,” says Finn.
Jerry Holland (CBC)
“A wonderful contributor to rugby,” is how Finn describes Holland who helped guide the sport from the amateur to the professional era.
Tom Kiernan (PBC)
A PBC star of a generation past, Kiernan became the first Irish back to captain the Lions, doing so in 1968. Kiernan underlined his place in the history when he coached the Munster team who defeated the All Blacks in 1978 – a team that included Moss Finn.
Patrick Parfrey (CBC)
Another CBC-alum who has made an impact on the sport is Patrick Parfrey “He went on to coach London Irish and brought them to a Cup final. He also coached Canada. He would be a standout rugby brain coming from Christians,” says Finn.
Noel Murphy (CBC)
Another CBC graduate who represented the Lions, Murphy also captained Ireland in 1967.
He has also contributed off the field as Finn notes his coaching record with province and country as well as working in the administrative side of things.