Blackrock advance in Junior Cup as holders St Michael’s bow out
February 5, 2018 9:36 am Site Editor
Blackrock moved into the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Junior Cup quarter-finals at Donnybrook on Sunday with a victory over St Michael’s College in a repeat of last year’s final.
St Michael’s made most of the early running with captain Stephen Woods leading the way, fly-half Hugo McWade fizzing passes and centres Sam Berman and Conor Gannon looking for openings.
The first serious dent in the defence came from ‘Rock centre Tom Henderson’s fend and speed around the outside. It was on the edges that ‘Rock looked to have superior speed and right-wing Harry Whelan was at the heart of an impressive move that ended with a penalty.
Captain James Culhane opted for the corner and a powerful maul went close before centre Ben Brownlee carried straight and left wing Jude O’Reilly had the wheels to go over on the left for 5-0 after 13 minutes. St Michael’s enjoyed plenty of possession without the same game breakers to cause havoc.
At least, that is what it looked like until Gannon sprung forward and sweet handling put wing Callum O’Reilly in position to score but for the final pass going to ground.
Blackrock had an edge at the breakdown where flanker James Culhane and number eight Sean Dempsey were vigilant.
Their wing Whelan was making metres every time he touched the ball, his latest intrusion paving the way for lock Rory McGuire to add the second try for Michael Moloney to convert in the 27th minute.
It was soon treble trouble for St Michael’s, prop David Walsh’s quick hands the key to wing O’Reilly’s second try just on half-time.
It didn’t take captain James Culhane long to stretch the lead off the back of O’Reilly’s burst through the middle, Moloney converting for 24-0 in the 34th minute. O’Reilly was back to complete his hat-trick with another fine attack down the left.
True to form, St Michael’s kept to the game plan and hit back with everything they had to go close at the posts. They went to the maul and their driving game only for ‘Rock centre Ben Brownlee to rip the ball away.
The St Michael’s three-quarters bided their time and moved the ball sweetly for Callum O’Reilly to dot down in the 48th minute.
Loose head Walsh was the link man again in putting scrum-half Thomas Quinn in for the sixth try, Moloney converting.
There was time for captain Woods to strike for a try converted by Gannon late on.
At Donnybrook – Blackrock College 36 (J O’Reilly 3 tries; R McGuire, J Culhane, T Quinn try each; M Moloney 3 cons); St Michael’s College 12 (C O’Reilly, S Woods try each; C Gannon con).
Blackrock: Cormac O’Brien; Harry Whelan, Tom Henderson, Ben Brownlee, Jude O’Reilly; Michael Moloney, Thomas Quinn; David Walsh, Milo Byrnes, Scott Barron, Naoise Golden, Rory McGuire, Alex Simpson, James Culhane (capt), Sean Dempsey.
Replacements: Max Patterson for Byrnes 38 mins; Niall Brophy for McGuire 52 mins; Cian Moloney for Quinn, Dylan Stafford for Moloney, Michael Nealon for Brownlee all 53 mins; Aaron Lysaght-Walsh for Walsh, Sam Loscher for Barron both 57 mins; Jamie McMahon for Simpson 58 mins.
St Michael’s: Henry McErlean; Cian Taheny, Conor Gannon, Sam Berman, Callum O’Reilly; Hugo McWade, Fintan Gunne; Zach Baird, Matthew Sherwin, Matthew Jennings, Dylan Rogan, Stephen Woods (capt), Max Dunne, Josh Brown, JJ Hession.
Replacements: Patrick Woods for Gunne 50 mins; Sean Egan for Baird 59 mins.
Referee: P Reidy, Leinster Branch.