Preview McMullen Senior Cup Final
February 19, 2016 12:00 am client
St Conleth’s have to be favourites to lift the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools McMullen Senior Cup for the first time since 1986.
In fact, the last time they won silverware was 15 years ago when their head coach Gavin Maguire was part of the team that won the Shield final of this competition.
“I can only describe the commitment of the boys to rugby as phenomenal since they first came to the school,” said Maguire.
“They made the Junior League final where they were beaten by St Pat’s from Navan three years ago and they were beaten by St Fintan’s from Sutton in the League final last year and went out to the same school in the Cup.
“They have been an exceptional bunch of lads. They have always asked for more sessions and developed every year.
“To finish off with the trophy they would have made their main target at the start of the season would mean so much to them.”
So far, their only real challenge in this competition came from St Patrick’s Classical School back in the second week in November.
They have been playing on easy street ever since, racking up 149 points in three matches.
This would suggest they have a fine attacking strategy and the players to execute it. This is accurate.
It all begins up front where prop Robert Cripwell, blindside Brendan Connor, the non-stop David Pogatchnik at openside and number eight Kevin Dolan are outstanding at this level of the game.
There is a lot to like about their half-backs too as David McKeown and Ben Doggett know when to play in the right areas and fly-half Doggett has the footballing instincts to take them there.
The three-quarter line is an impressive unit, led by the inside centre Nicolas Foreau and backed up by the breaking game of full-back Simon Ghose.
In fact, Ghose returns from injury to full-back with Michael McKay moving to one wing leaving Finn Mulcahy, Sean Bortolozzo and Jamie Lawless to fight it out for the final spot on the left flank.
They are best judged on their 27-25 defeat to Castleknock in the first round of the Vinnie Murray Cup, a game they lost to an injury-time try.
This form has been franked by Castleknock as they are due to confront Wesley in the Vinnie Murray final on March 2nd.
Enniscorthy are the defending champions.
It took them two efforts to overcome Tullow Community School 18-10 in a replay to win it for the first time last year.
The line of form for them this season has not been crystal clear.
The Wexford boys were not able to take up their place in the Vinnie Murray Cup due to other school commitments.
Instead, Colaiste Bhride, who they beat 19-5 in the McMullen semi-final, took their place only to run aground 45-10 against Wilson’s Hospital.
St Mary’s have four starters back from last year in full-back Tim Bowler, a real footballer, centre Jake Murphy, number eight John Nolan and Leinster Clubs representative Peter Breen in the centre.
Breen was the decisive force in the semi-final where his two tries were crucial against Colaiste Bhride.
“We probably weren’t expecting to get to the final,” said assistant coach Tomas Stamp.
“Most of our games have been close. We’ve had to battle to get here. I would say we have defended very well.
“To win the McMullen two years in a row would be huge. It would be good for the school as there are more gaelic games than rugby.”
The McMullen Senior Cup Final will take place on Tuesday, 23rd of February, Donnybrook Stadium, KO 3pm.
St Conleth’s: Simon Ghose; Michael McKay, Ross Murphy, Nicolas Foreau, A N Other; Ben Doggett, David McKeown; Robert Cripwell, Colin Duffy, Mati Remi, Cameron Ross-O’Reilly, Patrick Cahill, Brendan Connor, David Pogatchnik, Kevin Dolan (capt).
CBS Enniscorthy (Probable): Tim Bowler; Ronan Gahan, Jake Murphy, Peter Breen (capt), Bobby Keating; Jack Ryan, Kevin O’Connor; Andrew Redmond, Lee Martin, Robert Cullen, Luke’s Waicek, Micheal Wall, Oisin Cullen, Finn Condon, John Nolan.
Paths to the final:
ST CONLETH’S COLLEGE – First Round: bt St Patrick’s, Navan 20-8; Second Round: bt Ardee CS 65-3; Quarter-final: bt Tullow CS 42-0; Semi-final: bt Maynooth Post Primary 44-8.
CBS ENNNISCORTHY – First Round: Bye; Second Round: bt Gorey CS 22-5; Quarter-final: by Colaiste Chill Mhantain 24-15; Semi-final: bt Colaiste Bhride 19-5.