Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup Quarter-Final Previews
February 17, 2023 11:00 am Des Berry
The Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup quarter-finals lineup should be completed on Monday morning when Clongowes Wood and Terenure meet in a replayed first-round match-up.
The Clane school’s inadvertent inclusion of an ineligible player in their original 17-15 win rendered that match void.
The schools will do it all over again in Energia Park (11.30am) with the winners qualifying to play St Michael’s seven days later.
Monday, 20 February
CBC Monkstown v Newbridge College, in Energia Park, 3pm (Live on Premier Sports TV)
In many ways, the story of the first round was CBC Monkstown as they excelled in knocking out Castleknock (22-12).
More importantly, they were able to do it in a convincing manner and it all began with the bullish attitude of their pack of forwards.
Their relish for the fight was instigated by a coaching ticket headed by the experienced Ulsterman Stan McDowell.
Whatever the intention, all coaches need the right kind of players to implement strategy and in lock Rory Balmaine and number eight Charlie Meagher CBC have two such drivers.
Captain Thomas Chadwick and flanker Liam Guckian are also capable of the sort of actions that can rouse those around them.
The half-backs Ronan Mahon and Eoghan O’Hanlon have the nous to recognise what is on and how to exploit opportunities.
Newbridge has been forewarned. Their coaching architect Johne Murphy has built a culture based on taking down the big boys.
The golden triangle of Paddy Taylor, Ciaran Mangan and Todd Lawlor has long been identified as a special force in the three-quarter line from their Junior Cup triumph in 2021.
The release of Taylor into the centre has allowed Paddy Martin to flourish from out-half with the quick-thinking Tadhg Brophy always looking for a gap on the fringes.
The forward unit is an athletic collection which looks to play hard and fast, captain Shane Treacy is ably assisted by a try-scoring threat in prop Billy Bohan and loose forwards Ronan McGroary and Ruairi Munnelly.
Tuesday, 21 February
St Mary’s College v Gonzaga College, in Energia Park, 3pm (Live on Premier Sports TV)
Leinster League winners Gonzaga have shaped like potential Senior Cup winners all season long, even though it has never won the trophy.
The Sandford Road school has a strong core of players back from last year’s final loss, headed up by captain Paul Wilson at number eight.
There are ten players back with personal experience from that loss to Blackrock with Tom Wyley, Gavin O’Donnell, Luke McLaughlin and Adam McVerry backboning the pack.
Out-half Stephen McMahon and centre Jody Browne play important roles with Ireland Schools strike runner Hugo McLaughlin the jewel in the crown.
St Mary’s had to cope without their Ireland Schools tight-head Andrew Sparrow in the first-round eclipse of St Gerard’s.
They have grown a tight, cohesive squad, fronted by a no-nonsense set of forwards with Leinster credentials from lock David Leane and number eight Aaron O’Brien.
The traditional skills of a smooth running back division is not lost on Evan Moynihan, a gem of a centre, or full-back Gavin Foley.
The Rathmines school will have to be at its’ best to come out on top in a tie between neighbours.
Thursday, 23 February
Blackrock College v Cistercian College Roscrea, in Energia Park, 3pm (Live on Premier Sports TV)
Whatever about Blackrock’s pre-Cup form, they announced their campaign to complete back-to-back titles with the ruthless destruction of Pres Bray in the first round.
The weapons are many and varied, allowing coach Justin Vanstone to play the game in anyway he wants.
It is a multi-talented group from Andrew Quinn at full-back to Tom Brigg at number eight, just two of the six starters back from last year.
There is Leinster and Ireland quality in every unit, providing the all-court strategy to hit opponents where they are weakest.
Cistercian Roscrea is not without its leaders, number eight Richie Whelan shaping up as an Ireland U19 back row forward.
They were laboured enough in dealing with Vinnie Murray Cup qualifiers in the first round, flashing moments of brilliance on an inconsistent afternoon.
Coach Kolo Kiripati will make a demand for increased physicality from a forward pack that has size from props Rory Og Doody and Caleb Schofield and Rory Glynn.
Leinster Schools scrum-half Sean Finlay and opportunistic wings Dan Punch and Adrian Dunne can cause problems with the right service.
Monday, 27 February
St Michael’s College v Clongowes Wood College/Terenure College, in Energia Park, 3pm (Live on Premier Sports TV)
The winners of the replayed first-round tie between Clongowes Wood and Terenure on Monday morning (February 20) will have just a week to rest and recover.
The Leinster Rugby Schools Committee ordered the replay, based on an independent submission, unrelated to either school, that the Clane school had used an ineligible player in their 17-15 win.
This will be a test of character for both sets of players as Clongowes bids to overcome the setback, a test of their coaches’ motivational skills.
Terenure gets a second bite at the first round and it might just be easier for captain Matthew Somerville to have his troops in the right frame of mind.
The manner in which St Michael’s defended their line in the face of a gargantuan Belvedere eight in the first round spoke to a level of organisation, communication and aggression rarely seen in this competition.
Certainly, the rock-solid foundations are there to build from, even turning the tables at the maul where their technique came through.
Hooker Tom Stewart, second-row Mikey O’Reilly and captain Jim White, in the back row, are just three names to reckon with.
However, the work of props Ben Howard and Riain Coogan cannot be underestimated in the trenches.