St. Michael’s and Blackrock books places in Junior Cup Final
March 20, 2023 5:15 pm Des Berry
The Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Junior Cup semi-final replays took place at Energia Park on Monday afternoon.
St. Michael’s College 22 Belvedere College 14
Hooker Joe Kennedy’s brace of tries propelled St Michael’s into the final after they were able to do more with less ball.
The Belvedere forwards were intent on making an early statement, steaming onto the quick service from half-backs Charlie Callafhan and Johnny Garrihy.
Then, they looked to centre Dylan Lord to make something happen, releasing Rory O’Farrell up the left where Setanta McLaughlin drove the wing into touch.
The groundwork of openside Owen Twomey gave St Michael’s their first taste of field position, the light feet of prop Conor Canniffe causing problems.
The energetic pursuit of Callaghan’s lofted ball by David Barr earned a penalty, but the sky blues countered through Eoin Loo, keeping the ball impressively for prop Matthew Dredge to be held up over the line by centre Paul Dunne.
Anyway, Harrison McMahon opened the scoring from a simple penalty for a previous indiscretion in the 20th minute.
The battering ram of Belvo’ bursts by Harry Goslin and Alex Clarke and a robust maul were difficult to contain.
The agility of Clarke at the breakdown was rewarded with a penalty which the rest of the pack mauled, lock Shaun Mitchell claiming the try for Garrihy to convert for 7-3 in the 27th minute.
Straight away, Garrihy delved into his box of tricks for Dunne to latch onto a smart kick, hacking head and applying downward pressure for Garrihy to add the conversion.
St Michael’s were able to turn their next attack into seven points when Kennedy bounced a tackle and McMahon arrowed the conversion for 14-10 at the break.
Belvedere had the ascendency again in a repeat of the first period, pounding away on the fringes where Twomey was waiting to claw out penalties.
A dynamic tackle by Goslin was deemed worthy of a red card which Belvedere used for fuel, bounding forward until they were thwarted at a maul and repelled in a series of drives.
Once they escaped, St Michael’s will to play to width opened up space and the forwards played their part, from a maul, to set up centre Matthew Haugh for a jinking finish, converted by McMahon for 17-14 in the 52nd minute.
They came again, Sean King, Canniffe and Twomey all bolting forward to establish position, hooker Kennedy grabbing his second in the 58th minute.
Scorers: St Michael’s – J Kennedy 2 tries; M Haugh try; H McMahon pen, 2 cons. Belvedere – S Mitchell, P Dunne try each; J Garrihy 2 cons.
St Michael’s College: Sean King; Josh Divilly, Matthew Haugh, Scott Barron, Eoin Loo; Harrison McMahon, Andrew Norse (Ollie De Vreeze 52); Conor Canniffe, Joe Kennedy, Matthew Dredge (Dan O’Donohoe 35), Haydn Gallagher, Tom Reynolds (Phil Lynch 52), Setanta McLaughlin, Owen Twomey, Myles Berman (Capt).
Belvedere: Jamie Lynn (Jack Craig Coghlan 58); David Barr, Dylan Lord, Paul Dunne (Derek Keeling 52), Rory O’Farrell; Johnny Garrihy, Charlie Callaghan (Charles Dowse 58); Conor Quinn (Eugene Isong 54), Billy Ball (Lorcan Butler 58), Ryan Grant (Michael Duke 58), James Travers, Shaun Mitchell (Oisin Folan 42), Marcus McCarthy (Bobby McCormack 58), Alex Clarke (Capt), Harry Goslin.
Referee: G Sheridan, Leinster Branch.
Blackrock College 11 Terenure College 7
The composure of Blackrock in the closing stages was the difference in the day’s second replay.
The opening exchanges were brimful of physicality, ‘Rock feeding from mistakes as Terenure looked to stamp their authority through their carrying game.
Bravery at the breakdown by out-half Gareth Morgan was undermined by a malfunctioning set-piece, Bernard White’s momentum drawing a penalty struck by Luke Coffey in the 10th minute.
Terenure were just a touch over-eager, pushing passes that needed more care in their execution.
Then, prop Pearse Kelly broke through the middle and full-back Conor Quinn had to be slammed into touch by the cover. This was better.
All the while, Blackrock confidently dealt with what was happening in front of them until Niall Fallon cut them open and Rhys Keogh had to wrap up Geoff O’Sullivan on the right.
Flanker Max Carter was becoming a weapon at the lineout for ‘Nure, who looked to put the ball in the hands of Fallon and Ethan Balamash on the left wing.
Still, out-half Coffey was calm in his use of the ball and number eight Geoffrey Wall was impactful.
One last drive by Blackrock delivered enough room for Coffey to have a pop at a drop goal to leave it 3-0 at the half.
Cael McCloskey’s balance and pirouette away from contact was supported by a delightful chip over the top which caused panic.
‘Rock were beginning to look increasingly dangerous as wing James Browne almost got around the vigilant Balamash.
Then, captain Mathew Wyse carried for the umpteenth time and White was the vessel through which Blackrock flowed forward, Wall splitting the cover for a tremendous try for a two-score lead in the 40th minute.
Terenure had to find a way back into it pretty quickly, replacement nine Zach Grady providing tenacity on the fringes.
They just didn’t have the coherence in attack to match that of their opponents until prop Pearse Kelly shot through a gap and steamed to the line for O’Sullivan to convert in the 56th minute.
From the restart, Terenure coughed up a penalty at the ruck and Coffey’s aim was true for 11-7 in the 59th minute.
But, Blackrock were able to hold the ball and work the clock to the final whistle.
Scorers: Blackrock – G Wall try; L Coffey 2 pens. Terenure – P Kelly try; G O’Sullivan con.
Blackrock College: Cael McCloskey; James Browne, Oisin Daly, Bernard White, Rhys Keogh; Luke Coffey, Charlie Martin; Louis Magee (Ben Guerin 51), Matthew Wyse (Capt), Luka Kelly(Lorcan Golden 37), George Eggers, Conall Power, Tom Keaveney (Paddy Agnew 56), Tom McAleese, Geoffrey Wall.
Terenure College: Conor Quinn (Jack Cooney 33); Geoff O’Sullivan, Niall Fallon, Alvaro Swords, Ethan Balamash (Capt); Gareth Morgan (Hugh Byrne 54), Cathal Martin (Zach Grady 47); Pearse Kelly, Leo Zelman, Daniel McKenna (Rory O’Brien 56), Ray Meade (Luke Durkin 59), Ollie O’Leary, Max Carter, Michael Smyth, Josh Mooney.
Referee: C Hogan, Leinster Branch.