Sunday the 27th of January marks the beginning of the inaugural Leinster Schools Cup competition. Sunday marks the beginning of destiny. The beginning of triumph. At half two in the realms of Donnybrook, Belvedere College will take to the field. While Belvedere have contributed to society in recent years, producing a world class loosehead prop in Cian Healy, and a respectable number of irrationally over confident, overrated players, their large set of forwards and competent half back combination will pose a threat for any opposition. On the far side of that half way point line out Terenure College, which is both for my self and many of you; our alma matter. From the moment I entered those daunting black gates as a timid and shy 9 year old boy, I soon realised I was not just crossing this threshold in order to merely receive an education. Terenure College offers far more than that, and that belief may not be comprehended by all, but is echoed by all who have had the pleasure of attending the school. From my first day in 3X to my last day in the sixth year corridor, I was lucky enough to experience ten years as a pupil in the college. Although primarily to educate, the focus within those walls to was to develop a person. To mature. To grow. To be who you want to be. To take account of some of the values in life and realise their importance. Honesty. Integrity. Hard work. Respect. Commitment. Passion. Pride. All the way from that feeling of warm friendship as you lounge about the corridors, to that terrorizing feeling after you forgot to do your business homework, to the feeling of pride and honour as you don that golden crest. From “Willy Got Shat On” to “FREEEER”. From Duffy David to Brian Dervan. From badminton to rugby. From “SET OF RULES” to black mark tests. Looking back on those ten years there is only fondness, good memories, and a sense of attachment. That sense of dedication, loyalty and raw emotion is unparalleled. Come Sunday we forge our own tradition. We make our own destiny. We play the game, and fight for fame, because that’s what we expect from Terenure men. We will stand in the cold, in the rain or in the sun as we look upon the team. We’ll be tired, and we’ll be hungover after Hannah’s birthday. But we’ll feel that pride as Stephen O’Neill leads out the team from the Old Wesley end of Donnybrook, and the hair will stand tall on the back of our necks as the buzz from the crowd wills on the 15 men with the task of overturning Belvo. Even two years after leaving the school, that feeling of overwhelming pride and dedication as soon as you see that purple white and black jersey is palpable as the weekend draws close. That’s why come Saturday we celebrate twice as hard, drink twice as much, and slacking is punishable on the pain of death. We enjoy Saturday night, and then we face 70 arduous minutes on Sunday afternoon.
What started out as classmates, became a family. What started out as a school, became a home. And that’s why in the spirit of family, we return home on Sunday.