Senior Cup Final Preview: Belvedere v Roscrea
March 16, 2015 12:00 am client
Belvedere College face Cistercian College, Roscrea in the 2015 Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup Final, in association with Beauchamps Solicitors, this St Patrick’s Day in the RDS Arena at 4pm.
It has all come down to this.
St Michael’s were raging favourites before a ball was kicked in anger. They should have gone out in the first round to St Mary’s. They did in the quarter-final to Clongowes Wood.
This made Blackrock the young men most likely. They were shocked by Roscrea in the eighth minute of injury-time. The mantle of probable champions moved to Clongowes. They were humbled by 10-time champions Belvedere in the first semi-final.
Roscrea needed two bites at fast, fluid Newbridge to scrape through by one-point into their fifth final and a shot at their first title.
This really is one of those finals that could go either way. The Offaly-based school with the Tipperary postal address came closest back in 1941 when Newbridge came out on top 9-3 in a replay after a scoreless final.
Since then, the 1999 finalists, led by Gavin Duffy and goal-kicker Redmond Barry, the Wexford gaelic footballer, were outsmarted by Blackrock 17-9 and the 2011 crew, including current Ireland U20’s Oisin Heffernan and Rory Moloney, were given a rugby lesson by an exceptional Clongowes Wood.
Their history of defeat has led them to this, their latest attempt at breaking new ground and they have a team built around the go-forward leadership of their Connacht U19 number eight Dan Trayers and his flanker forward sidekick Mattie Keane.
The front row are not the most mobile lot but they do carry a ‘health warning’ from their size and sheer bloody-mindedness, the maul being their primary weapon of choice.
In addition, the second row partnership of skyscraping Fineen Wycherley and Aaron Browne has blended athleticism and hard work.
This all makes up for the most intimidating pack in the province to service a backline that has played in bursts rather than consistently through the guile of fly-half Alan Tynan, the boot of centre Tim Foley and the game-breaking brilliance of full-back Tim Carroll.
Belvedere have half-backs in Conor Jennings and Hugh O’Sullivan that can slice and dice the best defences with their distribution or intelligent use of the boot.
They were the key figures in Belvo bolting out to a big lead against Clongowes in the semi-final before they were forced to defend for their lives in the last quarter of a seat-of-their-pants 27-26 victory.
In front of them, number eight Tom de Jongh is a real leader with Max Kearney an able lieutenant on the openside, playing off the workaholic graft of a fearless front-five, led by prop Michael Sweeny, their captain.
They have the size to combat Roscrea in the physical exchanges, where their defence of the maul could be crucial, but, it is out wide that they could hold the aces.
Centres Declan Monaghan and James McKeown are uncompromising characters, while Sean Long and Eoin Cleere have shown match-winning moments in the previous rounds.
Will it be Rocrea’s first title? Will it be Belvedere’s eleventh? You will just have to turn up to The RDS on St Patrick’s Day to find out.
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PATHS TO THE FINAL
BELVEDERE – beat Gonzaga 32-5 in first round; beat CBC Monkstown 42-14 in quarter-final; beat Clongowes Wood 27-26 in semi-final.
ROSCREA – beat Wesley 26-0 in first round; beat Blackrock 17-14 in quarter-final; beat Newbridge 20-19 in semi-final replay