JCT v Ard Scoil Rís – An Account – February 2016

(Extract from an email received Feb 9th)

Despite the wind and the rain which threatened, the minute the first whistle blew it was one of those occasions when you knew you were experiencing something special. And this particular occasion was the Glenstal JCT versus Ard Scoil Ris in the Quarter Final of the Munster Junior Cup. The game was played on the magnificent G4 pitch in University of Limerick. Thankfully, the weather didn’t contribute all that much to the proceedings.

Why was this game so special? Well you have to go back a year in time when the Glenstal Under 15’s were at their lowest ebb possible and could hardly command a full compliment of players for any game. Morale was poor to say the least. The then Captain, Tiernan Ryan never gave up hope and when Irish coach Joe Schmidt spoke to the school last May, Tiernan approached him afterwards and asked him what he could do to inspire or at least encourage such a dispirited squad as it seemed a hopeless cause. Joe’s answer was that all Tiernan could do was to lead by his example.

Then move to a year later. It was a privilege to watch the game, to be there and to be part of one of the most extraordinary transformations of a rugby squad that Glenstal has ever seen. Each and everyone of these boys played an extraordinary part in this game. They played with guile, they played with skill and they played with their hearts on their sleeves. Each and everyone of them heroes. The whole school was behind them and the support was incredible from the first whistle to the last.

There is no point in describing the trys and who scored them or which players played better than others because what happened on the field collectively was more important than all that. You will read accounts of the game elsewhere and it will be all in graphic detail. But these boys made each and everyone of us proud to be a part of the Glenstal family. They had arrived at the table and produced only the very finest of fare for all to feast on and to savour. We could only sit back and admire them. The emotions of the whole school were plain to be seen after the final whistle was blown.

What lies ahead is a semi Final game. Who could have predicted this a year ago? It is an incredible story, almost a fairy tale except, we all know that it is not. All credit to the coaches, the mentors, the parents who supported these players through thick and thin, who were there for the bad times and who helped make these players believe that they had so much more to offer; that they had more in them than they ever imagined. Almost a fairy tale? A Roy of the Rovers fiction? Except this was not a fiction. It was real life and we were there to witness it unfold before our eyes.

To all involved in the JCT we can only thank each and everyone of you for the part you played in making us so proud of everything that is good in Glenstal Abbey School. You have done us all proud. And more!

Best of luck in the semi Finals. We will all be there to support you. And thank you for the enjoyment you have given us over the last miraculous year.

Ravens Fly Together.