St Michael’s College reach Schools Senior Cup semis with Clongowes win
February 27, 2023 4:52 pm Des Berry
St Michael’s College 27 Clongowes Wood College 17
St Michael’s completed the semi-final line-up for the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup at Energia Park on Monday afternoon.
A lung-bursting bust by Clongowes prop Max Duggan was the first sign of a crack in two determined defences, soon followed by a St Michael’s manoeuvre in which wing Larry Kirkham probed for an opening.
The sky blues narrowed their focus on a drive inside the 22 before spreading the ball left from a scrum for full-back David Lucey to somehow ground the ball in the eighth minute.
There were snippets of promise from the interplay between Clongowes’ forwards as Duggan and captain Alex Kelly took the ball up.
They were finding it difficult to earn position until centre Callum McDonald put lock Blayze Molloy into open country, the final pass picked off by a backpedalling defence.
When Clongowes decided to run the gauntlet, instead of kicking for ground, a ruck battle went the way of St Michael’s, Jules Fenelon pulling his shot left and wide.
Tom Stewart’s acrobatic block of a restart on the 22 kept St Michael’s in the right area, captain Mark Canniffe flipping a wonder-pass for captain James White to carry strong.
However, James Wyse was on the premises to execute a fine turnover penalty at the breakdown.
There was joy in the air for Clongowes and the handling of their front five was an undeniable factor.
Flanker Dermot Collins shot through a hole at the back of a lineout only for Wilhelm de Klerk to nab centre McDonald on the floor.
Canniffe flattened Daniel Baugh and James Sherwin almost had an interception in a hard-up defence that didn’t account for Kelly’s surge.
The Clongowes captain was wrapped up by Kirkham and de Klerk’s long kick turned defence into attack.
Kirkham almost got away on the right from Lucey’s long, left-handed pass. De Klerk stooped to force a penalty on the floor for Fenelon to make it 8-0 on half-time.
From the kick-off, Harry Mallon’s clearance was blocked by Sherwin, the scrum half latching on to the loose ball for a body-blow of a try, converted by Fenelon.
Clongowes left-wing Oscar O’Brien stole a ball at the ruck, flanker Dermot Collins was on to a loose ball, but St Michael’s openside Rory Brown was on hand to snuff out the attack.
A spill in midfield sparked a swift counter, Fenelon swinging a long, inviting pass that Kirkham took to the house in the 43rd minute.
Once again, Clongowes front row forwards engineered an opening for Alex Hemeryk and Gavin Keane sliced through in midfield.
Finally, the last pass went to hand when Keane flashed the ball for Daniel Baugh to shoot over on the left in the 58th minute.
St Michael’s couldn’t convert from a 5-metre lineout, flanker Matthew Roche-Nagle giving life to Clongowes’ attack with a stunning burst from deep.
They stayed on message, using the lineout to set up a maul and a series of close-range drives for loose-head Wyse to touch down in the 64th minute.
The influential de Klerk was able to exploit space before Fenelon kicked to Charles Foley to score with Fenelon adding the extra two points.
True to form, Clongowes kept on coming for Conor Lysaght to claim the try and for Tom Murtagh to convert from the right..
Scorers – St Michael’s – D Lucey, J Sherwin, L Kirkham, C Foley try each; J Fenelon pen, 2 cons. Clongowes Wood – D Baugh, J Wyse, C Lysaght try each; T Murtagh con.
St Michael’s College – David Lucey; Larry Kirkham (Charles Foley 58), Jules Fenelon, Mark Canniffe (Ethan Black 69), Patrick Wood; Wilhelm De Klerk, James Sherwin (Chris O’Connor 69); Ben Howard (Torin Murray 69), Tom Stewart (Tom Begley 69), Riain Coogan (Duinn Maguire 69), David Walsh, Mikey O’Reilly (Frazer McKenna 69), James White (Capt) Rory Brown (Billy O’Donoghue 58), Sam Corrigan.
Clongowes Wood – Padraic Spillane; Daniel Baugh, Harry Roche-Nagle, Callum McDonald (Gavin Keane 43), Oscar O’Brien (Brian McCarthy 43); Harry Mallon (Joseph Moynihan 52), Tom Murtagh; James Wyse (Luke Murtagh 69), Kosi Ugwueru (Max Doyle 52), Max Duggan (Alex Hemeryck 43), Blayze Molloy (Max Coveney 64), Alex Kelly (Capt), Matthew Roche-Nagle, Dermot Collins (Conor Lysaght 66), Dan Daly.
Referee – P Haycock, Leinster Branch.
2023 Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup Semi-Final draw:
St Michael’s College v Blackrock College
Newbridge College v Gonzaga College