The Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Junior Cup got underway on Monday with a cracking doubleheader at Energia Park.

It couldn’t have been any more exciting as both matches went down to the very last play.

Holders Newbridge College were just edged out by Cistercian College, Roscrea and Terenure College came from behind to get the better of Gonzaga College.

Cistercian College, Roscrea 17 Newbridge College 12

It took a tremendous late try by Rob Carney to knock holders Newbridge out of the first round.

For long stretches, Newbridge had the better of the territory and the possession in building a 12-3 lead at the halfway point.

Despite the drizzle, they looked to keep the ball in hand, peppering runners at an organised defence in which Roscrea wing Ronan Sullivan’s back-to-back tackles were typical of their enthusiasm.

Newbridge scrum-half Ben O’Connor tickled a kick deep inside the 22 and a wayward lineout gave them a prime attacking scrum.

Another intervention by Sullivan and big carry by No 8 Lee Fitzpatrick took Roscrea out of trouble.

But, out-half Rory Taylor almost got away from centre Carney before Ros’ pressure defence caused another spill and Fitzpatrick poached a penalty on the floor.

There was enterprising movement from both schools, Roscrea using their bruising centres Carney and Joe Finn to gain ground against the continuity of the holders.

Quick-thinking O’Connor sped down the short-side of a scrum to go close, setting up a series of drives which ended with lock Gearoid Scanlon diving over in the 21st minute.

The malfunction of the lineout convinced Roscrea to tap-and-go, Sullivan again prominent and Fionn Carney’s snipe earning a penalty which Jack Deegan struck in the 26th minute.

Once Newbridge’s forwards got momentum, their driving game moved with menace for No 8 Robert Flynn to ground the ball, Taylor immaculately converting from wide left for a nine-point lead at the break.

Straight away, Roscrea looked to claw their way back, looking to brothers Finn and Rob Carney to make dents until Daniel Cox pinched a penalty on the floor.

A raid up the left by Fitzpatrick turned defence into attack for Roscrea. They just could not sustain it.

Newbridge were able to play the percentages, prop Charles O’Loughlin and Cox churning out the yards.

Finally, the passes started to stick for Roscrea, Fitzpatrick and the Carney brothers central to a stunning attack, concluded by replacement James Miller’s try at the posts.

All of a sudden, confidence was on the rise and Rob Carney shot up the left, jinking inside the last defender for a brilliant individual try.

However, the Offaly school paid little or no heed to the high stakes, preferring to run penalties from inside their territory rather than look for distance.

It almost came back to bite them when a ruck infringement offered Newbridge a way back.

A maul motored to the line where a cluster of bodies made it impossible for referee Clive Wardrop to give the try in the last action of a torrid tussle.

Scorers – CC Roscrea:  R Carney, J Miller try each; J Deegan pen, two cons. Newbridge College: G Scanlon, R Flynn try each; R Taylor con.

Cistercian College, Roscrea – Sam Cusack; Ronan Sullivan, Rob Carney, Joe Finn, Sonny O Hara (Fionn Higgins h-t); Jack Deegan, Fionn Carney; Davin Egan, Evan Brophy, Henry Maher , Reece Daly (James Miller 40), Sean Killeen, Alex Kinsella, Billy Hayes (capt),  Lee Fitzpatrick.

Newbridge College – Ross Kenny; Thomas Daly, Thomas Flynn, Joseph Flanagan, Sam Collins (Patrick Waters 42); Rory Taylor, Ben O’Connor; Charles O’Loughlin, Mark Connolly, Sam O’Loughlin (Odhran Brannigan 42), Patrick Kennedy, Gearóid Scanlon, Daniel Cox (capt), Jonathan Fardy, Robert Flynn (Michael Murphy 36).

Referee – C Wardrop

Terenure College 19 Gonzaga College 18

A herculean hat-trick from Ben Blaney sent Terenure through to the quarter-final in dramatic circumstances.

It was nip and tuck the whole way, ‘Nure getting the perfect start when forcing a penalty from a back movement and going for touch.

The lineout was smooth enough for the maul to get moving. Blaney cut back against the grain to make his low body position count in driving for the line, out-half Will O’Leary converting from under the stand in the fourth minute.

Gonzaga wing Bobby Colbert caught up with Ethan Balamash in the backfield and a penalty at the breakdown allowed out-half Daragh O’Dwyer to give them a lineout inside the 22.

It did enable ‘Zaga to apply pressure, O’Dwyer having a go, loose forwards Rowan Duffy and Charlie Kennedy charging on and wing Colbert threatening from Patrick Masterson’s pass.

From a five-metre scrum, Kennedy bounced away from three tackles and fed right-wing Hugo Linehan for a try for 7-5 in the 18th minute.

Out-half O’Dwyer was playing with a maturity beyond his years in giving the game what it needed.

Terenure scrum-half Jamie Coleman was a pest, while prop Adam Cooper and centre Dan O’Kelly carried with authority.

A Gonzaga counter from deep, prompted by O’Dwyer and carried on by Colbert, led to a penalty for a late tackle.

On the next phase of play, Michael Kennedy was yellow carded and O’Dwyer nudged Gonzaga in front 8-7 at the interval.

Terenure’s tactic for holding players up in contact was working well, but Gonzaga made the extra man tell from a scrum.

They worked the ball into the hands of wing Linehan for his second try, O’Dwyer’s conversion glancing in off the left upright in the 34th minute.

O’Dwyer looked to turn the screw by playing for territory and the maul almost stretched the lead when held up over the line by ‘Nure’s refusal to leave the fight.

Terenure were finding it difficult to put the phases together into the teeth of an aggressive defence, despite the best efforts of Damian Gibbons, Blaney and Cooper.

A burst up the right by Blaney was rewarded when the recycle came and the captain was available again to scythe between defenders, O’Leary’s extras making it a one-point game midway through the half.

Terenure hooker Cian Hyland wrapped up man and ball for a turnover and a burst by big centre Daniel Hassett came to nothing as Gonzaga looked to respond.

They were playing in the right area and an offside in the middle of the pitch was too good an opportunity for O’Dwyer to pass up, striking a penalty in the 54th minute.

Blaney tried everything he knew to drag Terenure into a scoring position, ‘Zaga hooker Ben Bluett snaring a vital turnover penalty.

Just when all seemed lost, Blaney blazed away up the right and stayed alive to receive a final pass from O’Leary’s quick tap penalty for his third try.

There was still time for a yellow card for Jack Cooney, for slapping down a pass, and for O’Dwyer to clip a penalty just left of the posts.

Scorers – Terenure College: B Blaney three tries; W O’Leary two cons. Gonzaga College: H Linehan two tries; D O’Dwyer two pens, con.

Terenure College – Ethan Balamash; James Greally, Dan O’Kelly, Michael Kennedy, Jack Cooney; Will O’Leary, Jamie Coleman; Oliver McDonnell, Cian Hyland, Adam Cooper, Josh Mooney, Michael Candon (Eoghan Sarsfield 38), Evan McMonagle (Luke McNiff 38), Ben Blaney (capt), Damian Gibbons.

Gonzaga College – Patrick Coleman; Hugo Linehan, Patrick Masterson, Daniel Hassett, Bobby Colbert (Jamie Inglis 39); Daragh O’Dwyer, James O’Dwyer; Walter McMahon Ben Bluett, Jamie Sheil, Matthew Cahill (Jack Carr 55), Jamie Carr, Rowan Duffy, Matthew O’Herlihy, Charlie Kennedy (capt).

Referee – J Hollywood