Belvedere defeat Clongowes to reach Senior Cup Final
March 6, 2017 5:41 pm Site Editor
Belvedere kept alive the dream of back-to-back Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup crowns in qualifying for the final at Donnybrook on Monday.
Clongowes had to get everything right to be there at the final minute of the 70. They started out by looking to the sky in the cold, wet conditions through scrum-half Joe Murphy’s high ball.
This was met with Belvedere’s confidence on the ball and their scrum-half Paraic Cagney angling a kick into the corner.
Clongowes right wing Reiness Lemess was penalised for pushing Cagney. But, Hugh O’Sullivan’s kick from the left was taken by the wind.
There was a premium placed on skills, the box kicking of Clongowes nine Murphy landing maximum pressure into the hands of the receiver.
It took an athletic lineout steal to put Belvo on the front-foot, their driving game around the fringes sucking in defenders for out-half David Hawkshaw to slip the ball to Jordan Wilkes for the left wing to shoot through a gap for the opening try.
O’Sullivan converted for 7-0 in the 12th minute.
They came again immediately from Ruadhan Byron’s blast through the middle of a ruck to feed O’Sullivan, eventually requiring a tackle from centre Ben O’Shea to sort it out.
Clongowes were not able to escape their own half and a switch move in midfield found centre Cian Walsh flying into space.
Second row Sean Phelan was harshly whistled for a no-arms tackle on Byron for O’Sullivan to make it a 10-point game in the 21st minute.
The Clane school almost found a way back into the game when number eight Sean McCrohan executed a blockdown without claiming the loose ball.
They gained ground from John Maher’s counter and out-half Tom Monaghan’s angled ball.
When they got a sniff, they took it from a lineout taken in by McCrohan for Murphy to send O’Shea into an alarmingly large gap for a try to halve the difference to 10-5 in the 29th minute.
It was just what they needed as prop John Timmins and McCrohan charged up the right.
The offload stuck from Monaghan to hooker Dan Sheehan to create danger, snuffed out by Byron before the half came to a close.
Belvedere began with the clear intent of holding onto the ball. It took the instinct of Monaghan to snatch it away in open play.
The Great Denmark school resorted to the maul to draw two penalties which were undone by a wayward lineout.
The match was taking place between the 22-metre lines, Belvo moving forward, Clongowes absorbing pressure to earn penalties.
Monaghan almost put McCrohan into the green zone in building their game until a knock-on ruined their attack.
Belvedere ran the ball back for replacement Sam Barry to make headway down the left.
From there, they were clinical in going to the pick-and-jam for lock Oran O’Brien to drive for the line.
O’Sullivan kicked two for 17-5 in the 50th minute.
Clongowes had to strike back quickly. Replacement Patrick Celebi tore down the left for the momentum which Byron took away by ripping the ball out of the tackle.
A tumbling kick forward by Cagney forced O’Shea into a rescue mission.
Belvo were still in position until hooker Sheehan turned over the maul and his loose-head John Timmins poached a penalty at ruck time.
All the while, the clock was moving on and Clongowes weren’t moving forward.
They spent more time than they wanted defending on the fringes.
The counter of Lemess and carries of McCrohan and Murphy changed that ahead of sustained pressure that ended with Murphy’s reach for the line.
Centre O’Shea converted for 17-12 with three minutes left on the clock.
There was still time. But, Belvedere kept their cool, and won the right to defend their title in the RDS Arena on St Patrick’s Day.
Belvedere College 17 Clongowes Wood College 12
At Donnybrook – BELVEDERE COLLEGE 17 (J Wilkes, O O’Brien try each; H O’Sullivan pen, 2 cons); CLONGOWES WOOD COLLEGE 12 (B O’Shea try, con; J Murphy try).
Belvedere: Hugh O’Sullivan; Mark Donnelly, Peter Maher, Cian Walsh, Jordan Wilkes; David Hawkshaw, Paraic Cagney; Cillian Molloy, Anthony McDonnell, Jake Robinson, Grellan Murray, Oran O’Brien, Max Kearney (capt), Conor Doran, Ruadhan Byron.
Replacements: Sam Barry for Wilkes 42 mins; Ted Walsh for Cagney 62 mins; Conor Byrne for McDonnell, David Hill for O’Brien both 64 mins.
Clongowes: Jack Gilheany; Reinis Lemess, Joe Carroll, Ben O’Shea, John Maher; Tom Monaghan, Joe Murphy; John Timmins, Dan Sheehan, Arthur Odlum, Sean Phelan, Matthew Martin, David Jeffares, Anthony Ryan, Sean McCrohan (capt).
Replacements: Tom Coghlan for Ryan 6 mins; Conrad Daly for Murphy 33 mins – temp; Patrick Celebi for Phelan 50 mins; Charles Gallen for Gilheany 56 mins.
Referee: Dermot Blake, Leinster Branch.