St Michael’s College took their place in the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final in fine style yesterday at Donnybrook.

The Clongowes pressure defence was a problem for St Michaels that had to be solved, forcing an early scrum.  The Clongowes side were patient too in how they moved menacingly into position through their rumbling forwards, centre Ben O’Shea’s grubber bouncing off St Michael’s, David Ryan.

St Michael’s were unable to break away from a defensive scrum and a ruck infringement allowed O’Shea to make it 3-0 in the sixth minute. They looked like adding to that when scrum-half Conrad Daly and full-back Charlie Gallen worked the short side.

St Michael’s were slower into their gears, left wing Andrew Smith eventually cutting loose for Ryan Baird to show his speed into the right corner for 5-3 in the 10th minute.

The Clane school looked to answer straight away until a big carry from number eight Dan O’Donovan and stunning kick from Jay Barron kept Clongowes pinned back.

The sky blues next attack began with a turnover by Baird’s hard hit and concluded with hooker Lee Barron’s drive to the line, converted by David Ryan for 12-3 in the 21st minute.

Clongowes had to stay in the game and they found a way from O’Shea’s second penalty in the 25th minute. They were back for more from Daly’s snipe and direct running which was undone by prop Jack Boyle poaching of the egg just before the break.

St Michael’s came out with intent in the second half, moving the ball sweetly from a scrum on halfway for Ryan, Chris Cosgrave and Smith to combine, to get within driving distance for O’Donovan to dive in over the try line. Ryan’s extras taking it out to 19-6 in the 37th minute.

As if that wasn’t enough, lock Matthew Healy tore away from the restart for 40 metres before Clongowes flanker John Durkan stepped in to rescue the ball at the ruck.

The alert reaction of blindside Jody Booth completed a turnover for St Michael’s in the lead up to Ryan striking for three from the right in the 42nd minute.

Clongowes were denied a try when O’Shea was judged to be ahead of out-half David Wikinson’s stabbed kick. They weren’t disheartened and came in lightning fashion for O’Shea’s inside ball, to put John Maher through a hole and for number eight Matthew Martin to finish the move, O’Shea’s conversion reducing it to 22-13 in the 56th minute.

Clongowes continued to work hard but St Michael’s were safe as long as they had the two-score cushion and they maintained it right to the end.

At Donnybrook – St Michael’s College 22 (R Baird, L Barron, D O’Donovan try each; D Ryan pen, 2 cons); Clongowes Wood College 13 (M Martin try; B O’Shea 2 pens, con)

St Michael’s: Chris Cosgrave; Mark O’Brien, David Ryan (capt), Jay Barron, Andrew Smith; David Moran, Rob Gilsenan; Jack Boyle, Lee Barron, Chris Hennessy, Matthew Healy, Ryan Baird, Jody Booth, Scott Penny, Dan O’Donovan.

Replacements: Fionn Finlay for Hennessy 42 mins; John Fish for Healy 65 mins; Des McCarthy for Gilsenan 67 mins.

Clongowes Wood: Charles Gallen; John Maher, Joe Carroll, Ben O’Shea, Connell Kennelly; David Wilkinson, Conrad Daly; Conor Duff, Bobby Sheehan, Ryan McMahon, Dan Beggs, Tom Coghlan, Anthony Ryan (capt), John Durkan, Matthew Martin.

Replacements: Rossa O’Kane for Duff 23 mins; Gavin Dowling for Beggs 51 mins; Max Dowling for Wilkinson 62 mins; Calum Dowling for Sheehan, Sean Donovan for Gallen both 65 mins; Michael Colivet for Coghlan 67 mins.