'Nure in form to silence the Bel'
Terenure have strength and class to launch major Cup bid
LEINSTER SENIOR CUP PREVIEW: Terenure College v Belvedere College, Donnybrook, Sunday, 2.30 - It is that time of the year again. The Leinster Schools Senior Cup is almost upon us.
The good news for Terenure - the bad news for everyone else - is that they have got everyone back in tip-top shape to mount a serious bid to win back the Leinster Schools Senior Cup for the first time since 2003.
While they have been marooned in a relative wilderness, Belvedere have won the competition twice, powered by Ian Keatley and Cian Healy in 2005 and Tom Sexton in 2008.
The 'Nure have not been able to get it together as much as they would have liked in their pre-Cup campaign. There have been the ups, like beating Blackrock, and the downs, like losing to St Michael's. A rollercoaster ride comes to mind.
"I would say we are quietly confident, while respecting all the teams, especially Belvedere on Sunday. You get nothing easy against them," said 'Nure's Des Thornton.
The Terenure forward unit is not a collection of monsters, rather a strong mobile unit that can scavenge with the best of them on the floor and move smoothly into transition from set-piece to open play.
Their captain, Stephen O'Neill, has made it back from a broken ankle in August in what has been an example to all in a squad that boasts a backbone of Junior Cup winners from 2010 and a select few from 2009 too.
Ireland Schools duo Harrison Brewer, in the centre, and full-back Billy Dardis offer a contrasting combination between the hammer and the sword, the former a hard carrier, the latter a wizard on his feet.
Belvedere coach Phil Werahiko inherited a collection of hard workers, a team without stars, built on strong foundations of unity of purpose.
Unusually, there is no inter-pro presence on which Werahiko can draw for leadership, although their captain Jack Hitchcock and number 12 Ger Young form an excellent centre partnership.
Hooker Damien Butler and number eight Eamon Heneghan are strong performers in the pack, while fly-half Mark White has grown into the role as chief playmaker through the season.
"We have had our injuries, but we are hopeful they will be cleared up by the weekend," said Werahiko, in his first year as the SCT coach.
Belvo have been working hard to correct their most obvious flaw: getting off to a reasonable start before falling away in the second half.
It haunted them in defeats to Blackrock, St Michael's, Clongowes Wood and Terenure on their pre-Cup journey.