Quality over quantity.
For those who don’t know, Glenstal Abbey is a County Limerick school with just 258 students. A school where rugby hasn’t always been high on the priorities list.
The Murroe school are best known for the first class education on offer, with parents more than willing to pay the necessary to maximize their sons’ Leaving Cert points. Down through the years Glenstal have ranked among the most academic schools in the country and were Ireland’s sixth best performing secondary school for 2017
This year however, regardless of how well their students may perform, will forever be remembered for the rugby.
For Glenstal to compete in schools rugby, something quite special is required and this Senior Cup winning side was certainly just that.
The champions had no less than eight Munster underrage players among them this season including Ireland U18s representatives Ben Healy and Mark Fleming, with winger Ronan Quinn also part of the Irish sevens U18s set-up. The quality was certainly there but it was how they gelled as a unit that separated them from the likes of the talented Crescent and runners-up CBC.
Under the guidance of Sean Skehan, Glenstal brought a forward pack to the competition that simply would not be out-muscled and that meant quick possession for some of the best backs we have ever seen grace the competition. Aran Egan and Ronan Quinn left defenders dizzy throughout the campaign, Andrew Hogan demonstrated his class from fullback but most impressive of all was outhalf Ben Healy.
Tall, confident, mature, accurate and comfortable with both feet, Healy was just a class apart. Near flawless kicking percentages and forty yard drop goals are far from regular occurrences at this level but the Tipperary man did so without any fuss and it’s hard to think Sunday will be his last time wearing a red jersey.
This was Glenstal’s first ever Senior Cup and who knows, maybe they will have to wait another while for a second – but that’s not the point. The reality is that they have done exceptionally well to have tasted success just once and the Munster academy is going to be all the better for it over the next few seasons.
If Manchester United have made a brand of the Class Of ’92, Glenstal will have to cling onto the class of 2018 for some time to come.
This is not the last we’ve heard of these young men.