Senior Cup preview: Belvedere v Clongowes
March 5, 2017 7:00 pm Site Editor
Belvedere will head into this first Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final as the more likely to be there for the final at the RDS Arena on St Patrick’s Day.
This is not to suggest it is a sealed envelope.
There is much that can happen to prevent Belvedere’s chase for back-to-back titles for the first time since 1971 and 1972.
The champions have the brain trust of full-back Hugh O’Sullivan in the backfield and out-half David Hawkshaw in the cockpit to make the right calls.
More importantly, they have in Max Kearney, the purest and most effective openside in the competition.
The young man is simply a machine with a Rolls Royce engine, such is his capacity to carry out first-class quality work, in taking ball away from the opposition for clinical use by Hawkshaw and O’Sullivan.
This is not to push Belvedere as a three-man team.
Wing Mark Donnelly, number eight Ruadhan Byron and centre Peter Maher carry danger at their fingertips.
Clongowes Wood have moved steadily into the last four without blowing anyone’s hair back.
There is a strong sense they have not hit their strap yet and there will be plenty of motivation from their thrill-a-minute semi-final defeat to Belvedere in 2015.
Number eight Sean McCrohan is the only survivor for the Clane school and his physical example will be crucial to getting over the gain line.
From there, half-backs Thomas Monaghan and Joseph Murphy can get their capable three-quarters moving.
Coach Brett Igoe was hindered in the first round by a bug that hit the school.
He made five changes to his forward pack, plus the introduction of Murphy, to result in a 24-14 much-improved performance against St Mary’s College in the quarter-final.
Belvedere College v Clongowes Wood College, Donnybrook, KO 3pm (Monday)
Belvedere (Possible): Hugh O’Sullivan; Mark Donnelly, Peter Maher, Cian Walsh, Jordan Wilkes; David Hawkshaw, Paraic Cagney; Cillian Molloy, Sam Osborne, Jake Robinson, Grellan Murray, Oran O’Brien, Max Kearney (capt), Conor Doran, Ruadhan Byron.
Clongowes (Possible): Jack Gilheany; Reinis Lemess, Tim O’Brien, Ben O’Shea, John Maher; Thomas Monaghan, Joseph Murphy; John Timmins, Dan Sheehan, Arthur Odlum, Sean Phelan, Matthew Martin, David Jeffares, Anthony Ryan, Sean McCrohan.