Leinster’s All-Ireland schoolboy championships’ hopefuls have been handed interesting draws for next week’s tournament which runs from October 20 to 22 in Wesley and St Columba’s College.
Wesley – reigning champions and also super six winners last year – still have plenty of quality to hand in spite of the graduation of high profile names.
Shane Madeley, David McCrea, Rob Burke, Kirk Shimmins, Alan White and Rob Fitzgerald are still around while Jordan Sutton is another who can step up from the Irish U-16s.
Tom Samuel is an injury doubt, though for the tournament with a broken toe. The Ballinteer school drew with Sutton Park 1-1 last week but have already put together an extensive preseason programme with fixtures in Bandon, Ashton and Campbell College.
Bandon and Campbell are both among their group opponents along with Sullivan Upper in what initially looks the most testing group of the four this year.
St Andrew’s – the Leinster senior cup winners in March – have an injury doubt too with David Cole suffering from a hamstring strain.
From last year’s team, Michael Styles, Mairtin Cronin, Sam Spence and Geoff Garrett are losses but replacing Irish U-21 keeper Stephen West and sweeper Richard Sykes are the toughest propositions.
Fiachra Maher, Conor Stephens and Stephen Nolan provide the midfield base while Ravin Nair and Lee Cole took up defensive roles against Kilkenny last week in an impressive 7-2 win. David Watkins and Jake Beirne’s stylish skills could also unlock the door further up the pitch.
They are drawn against Friends and Wallace from Ulster while the group is completed by borough rivals Newpark. The Blackrock school is powered by Simon Lowry in midfield while Jonathon Elmes’ drag-flicks are a threat, too.
Methody complete a really tough group for Brian Gray’s men for whom he will need Jeremy Duncan, Matty Moore and Eamon Walshe firing.
Sutton Park’s task is also an onerous one with Banbridge Academy heading the list of potential tournament threats from Pool A.
Calling on a number of the players who won the school’s first ever A title at U-14 level three years ago, Sutton have begun life under Scott Beattie in fine style, drawing with Wesley last week.
Harry Spain’s corner prowess and Tom Fee’s net-minding have already been prominent in the men’s division two this season. They face two former champions in Ashton and RBAI in a group loaded with history.
Group games take place over the opening two days of the competition with the top side in each of the four pools progressing to the semi-finals. The remaining sides are matched up to play challenge games on the third day.
Pool A: Banbridge Academy, Ashton, RBAI, Sutton Park
Pool B: Cookstown HS, Midleton, MCB, Kilkenny College
Pool C: Friends, St Andrew’s, Wallace HS, Newpark Comprehensive
Pool D: Campbell College, Wesley College, Sullivan Upper, Bandon GS
** For the full fixture list for the competition, click here