Gonzaga and Castleknock win Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior and Junior League Finals
December 14, 2022 4:30 pm Des Berry
The Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior and Junior League Finals took place in an attractive double-header at Energia Park on Wednesday afternoon.
LEINSTER SENIOR LEAGUE FINAL – GONZAGA COLLEGE 35 NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE 27.
Holders Gonzaga were clinical in claiming the Senior League crown over Newbridge in a fast-paced final.
If the standard here is anything to go by, there is a ton of talent coming through the ranks this season as these schools shared eight tries.
This all started out at a furious speed as Gonzaga opened with Rory Finlay tearing up the touchline and the same boy getting on the end of a super-smooth back move for Stephen McMahon to convert in the fifth minute.
They were on a roll and hard-running centre Jody Browne almost cut loose for a second at the posts.
In a flash, Tadhg Brophy steamed onto a high ball and Newbridge fly-half Paddy Taylor released Adam Larkin-Smithers up the left for a spectacular finish in the 12th minute.
The tempo was relentless from both sides, Ireland Schools full-back Hugo McLaughlin wrongfooting the defence for a fine try, converted by McMahon.
It took an athletic chase by Ruairi Munnelly on Aidan O’Flanagan to prevent further damage, McMahon settling for three points for 17-5 in the 29th minute.
John Sheedy’s poach on Paul Wilson handed Taylor a successful shot at the posts.
A careering carry by ‘Zaga number eight Wilson was the momentum for prop Finn O’Neill to ground out a try for 22-8 on half-time.
However, Newbridge wing Hugo Owens was sharply onto an interception to turn defence into seven points from Taylor’s conversion in the 39th minute.
Straight away, Browne’s burst set McMahon up for a penalty which stretched it out to 25-15 in the 42nd minute.
Then, an unstoppable attack in which Browne and McLaughlin made ground concluded with O’Flanagan making the line for McMahon to stick the extras.
Newbridge brought their backs closer to the fringes to punch holes and well-timed passes by Taylor and Mangan put Rory Allen over on the right in the 55th minute.
The resilience of the Kildare school’s try-line defence kept them in it, Mangan and Taylor launching long kicks forward to set up a sustained surge for Allen to pick up his second try, Taylor’s conversion making it 32-27 in the 67th minute.
Gonzaga had the composure to come again for McMahon to slot a penalty due to a ruck infringement in the last minute of regular time.
Gonzaga – R Finlay, H McLaughlin, F O’Neill, A O’Flanagan try each; S McMahon 3 pens, 3 cons.
Newbridge – R Allen 2 tries; A Larkin-Smithers, H Owens try each; P Taylor pen, 2 cons.
GONZAGA – Hugo McLaughlin, JP Breslin, Aidan O’Flanagan, Jody Browne, Rory Finlay, Stephen McMahon, Richie Coman; Finn O’Neill, Luke McLaughlin, Adam McVerry, Jamie Kennedy, Tom Wyley, Gavin O’Grady, Gavin O’Donnell, Paul Wilson.
Replacements: Jack Kelly, Jamie Sheil, Patrick McEnroe, Sid Love, Charlie Kennedy, Tom Brophy, Daragh O’Dwyer, Mikey Wall
NEWBRIDGE – Todd Lawlor, Hugo Owens, Cairn Mangan, Andrew Carroll, Adam Larkin-Smithers, Paddy Taylor, Tadhg Brophy; John Walsh, Josh Montgomery, Billy Bohan, Ruairi Munnelly, Shane Treacy, John Sheedy, Ronan McGroary, Ruairi Byrne.
Replacements: Mark Masterson, Charlie O’Loughlin, Sam O’Loughlin, Jack Dennis, Daniel Cox, Dan Connolly, Conor Manifold, Rory Allen.
LEINSTER JUNIOR LEAGUE FINAL – CASTLEKNOCK COLLEGE 15 GONZAGA COLLEGE 12.
Full-back Matthew Brennan’s 59th-minute penalty completed Castleknock’s come-from-behind victory to capture the Junior League title.
Gonzaga absorbed heavy early pressure, holding the line as Castleknock fly-half Cory O’Connor probed for openings.
The Sandford Road school’s forwards grew into the game, initiating tries by hooker John Brophy and centre Conor Farrelly and a conversion by Bobby Colbert to hold a 12-0 lead at the break.
This was reduced when the ‘Knock maul went to work for an unconverted try by Luke Hanly in the 38th minute.
Out-half O’Connor’s influence was undeniable seeing and taking a gap for the second try, Matthew Brennan converting to level it.
The tide had turned, in terms of possession and territory, and Brennan slotted a late penalty to complete the comeback.
Castleknock – C O’Connor, L Hanly try each; M Brennan pen, con.
Gonzaga – J Brophy, C Farrelly try each; B Colbert con.
CASTLEKNOCK – Matthew Brennan, Niall Heffernan, Finn Watt, John McKenna, Jaydon Carroll, Cory O’Connor, Hugh Reilly; Alex Babin, PJ Matthews, Brian Fallon, Luke Hanly, James Mangan, Jonathan Ginnety, Jack O’Loughlin, Ben O’Toole.
Replacements: Mark Foley, Ryan Bermingham, Tom Costello, Cathal Byrne, Evan Sload, Tom O’ Ceallaigh, Tom Brehony, Killian Marnane.
GONZAGA – Zach Mulligan, Josh Mulligan, Conor Farrelly, Bobby Colbert, Dara Keane, Marcus O’Grady, Luke Moran; Tadhg McKeon, John Brophy, Walter McMahon, Ronan Crowe, Peter Dockery, Jamie Carr, Jack Carr, Bobby McCarthy.
Replacements: Jed Hickey, Lochlainn Kennedy, Danny Mackey, Tadhg Noone, Brian Harney, James Verdon, Roddy Cotter, Jim Devlin.