This was the quintessential game of two halves as Dundalk Grammar School came from 10 down against St Mary’s CBS, Enniscorthy, to win the Bank of Ireland Leinster Rugby Schools Duff Cup Final for the second time in three years at Donnybrook on Wednesday.

The Wexford boys began at a hectic pace, pushing the ball left and right, requiring Dundalk to put in a number of tackles.

Then, Enniscorthy centre Stefan san Agustin got the ball in space and put on dazzling footwork to skewer the defence. Out-half Conal Kervick converted for 7-0 in the sixth minute.

The more structured approach of Dundalk was hampered by the constant rain as handling became an issue.

Duff Cup

When the passes stuck, the Louth school made significant headway to draw a second penalty which was hammered to touch inside the 22.

Grammar’s number eight Harry O’Neill was a hard man to stop as ‘Scorthy wing Shane Kehoe rushed in to make an important tackle.

A sliding grubber from out-half Aidan Kane on the wet surface was just about controlled by full-back Darrah Kehoe.

Just as Dundalk looked ready to turn possession into points, San Agustin brilliantly seized on a loose ball to outside centre James Doyle up to turn defence into attack. There they stayed until Dundalk gave up a penalty for players advancing ahead of the kicker for Kervick to make it 10-0 in the 19th minute.

Duff Cup

It was by no means one-way traffic as Grammar ran their big men, like lock Colman Finlay and captain O’Neill up the middle and looked to centre Timmy Connolly in the wide channels.

Their out-half Kane was starting to dictate the game and Dundalk almost broke back but for ‘Scorthy prop Mike McVeigh’s tackle to knock the ball out of the hands of scrum-half Tom Corcoran.

The line-kicking from Kervick, especially behind his own try line was exemplary and proved a sound exit strategy from the growing pressure exerted by Dundalk.

On the restart, St Mary’s number eight Ore Lasisi churned out the hard yards that give real go-forward to a pack of forwards and forced Dundalk to concede penalties in retreat.

Duff Cup

It was O’Neill who put a stop to flanker Cian Walsh’s charge with a perfect turnover.
Dundalk had their own line-kicker in second row Dylan Keating, putting them in the right position before Walsh stole a ball at the back of a lineout.

There were just small signs of Enniscorthy losing discipline as penalty-on-penalty allowed easy gains from Keating’s boot.

From there, they crept forward for number eight O’Neill to strike back against the grain for a try converted by Keating.

It got even better for Grammar when O’Neill sparked an attack for out-half Aidan Kane to plunge over, Keating converting for 14-10 in the 40th minute.

Duff Cup

The momentum was with Dundalk now and they were intent on pressing home their advantage.

From a five-metre scrum, they went right for Deshawn Ighodaro to ground the ball, Keating kicking the extras for 21-10 in the 45th minute.

That man Keating was back in the groove again from a 50th minute penalty and his third three minutes from the end.

At Donnybrook – Dundalk Grammar 27 (D Ighodaro, H O’Neill, A Kane try each; D Keating 2 pens, 3 cons); St Mary’s CBS, Enniscorthy 10 (S san Agustin try; C Kervick pen, con).

Dundalk: Matthew Meegan; Gavin Meally, Timmy Connolly, Woodley Nicholson, Aodhan Fitzpatrick; Aidan Kane, Tom Corcoran; Deshawn Ighodaro, James Stokes, Mark Ajayi, Dylan Keating, Colman Finlay, Jonah Power, Joshua O’Hare, Harry O’Neill (capt).

Replacements: Harry Graham for Ighodaro, Reuben O’Neill for Fitzpatrick both 55 mins.

Enniscorthy: Darragh Kehoe; Shane Kehoe, Stefan san Agustin, James Doyle, Ronan Kervick; Conal Kervick (capt), Sean Kelly; Mikey McVeigh, Conor Murphy, Josh Murphy, Chris O’Leary, Neil Foley, Aaron Doyle, Cian Walsh, Ore Lasisi.

Replacements: Marco Byrne for Foley, Levente Roza for Murphy both 35 mins; Victory Onwabiko for Lasisi 40 mins; Stephen Kelly for Sean Kelly, Oran Carley for McVeigh both 58 mins.

Referee: T Colton, Leinster Branch.