He only got one prediction wrong in round one so can Johne Murphy ace the winners for the quarter finals of the 2018 Leinster Schools Senior Cup?
Read his thoughts and predictions below.
Blackrock College vs St Gerards, 2pm ko, Sunday 18th February 2018, Donnybrook Stadium – Live on eirSport 1
Blackrock were put under massive pressure by a well drilled Castleknock side in the first round, with only an excellent final 15 mins closing out the game for ‘Rock. Meanwhile, League Champions Gerards pushed past a gallant but weakened Finians side, with their pre-Cup form come through when it mattered.
All of which sets up an intriguing clash in the first Quarter Final, live on @eirSport. In terms of the style, Gerards will look to use the ball and move the bigger Blackrock side around the park, using back 3 player Max O’Reilly as a strike runner and getting impressive loose forward Ethan Baxter on the ball. This will put the ‘Rock defence under pressure, at least initially and the underdogs will need to captilise on that. Getting dragged into a power game will only suit one team on the day.
It may be hackneyed to say but this is genuinely going to be a close affair with St Gerards’ confidence on a such a high, with a medal and good 1st round win in their back pockets. Having said all that, the power Blackrock have, with key men like big ball carrying scrummager tight head Tom Clarkson and footballing center star man Liam Turner, means for me that they’ll just about edge it but it is going to be a close one.
Johne’s Prediction – Blackrock to sneak it by 6 points margin.
Belvedere College vs Newbridge College, 3pm ko, Donnybrook Stadium, Monday 19th February 2018 – Live on eirSport 1
Newbridge put on an excellent display in the opening round against a competitive Pres Bray outfit. On that showing, they have enough to take on any side left in competition. With half backs Jack Doyle and Luke Maloney pulling the strings behind a strong platform laid by big ball carriers like Cian Prendergast and Muiris Cleary, Newbridge have plenty of weapons at their disposal.
Belvedere pushed past my outsiders for the competition, Gonzaga College, in the first round in a ding dong encounter. The reigning champions certainly have the big game experience to pull through in another arm wrestle. In the first round, they were put under pressure real pressure upfront by the lose of experienced David Hawkshaw 25 mins into the tie. There will be an anxious wait, likely in both camps, to see if he can make it on to the pitch on Monday.
With their tails up after probably the performance of the first round, Newbridge are going to take a fair bit of stopping. I see this as very much a battle of current form vs cup winning experience and as such, I am going to just edge for my old alma mater Newbridge and their pack to just win enough parity to get them home.
Johne’s Prediction – Newbridge to nick it by 5 points on Monday.
St Mary’s College vs Cistercian College Roscrea, 3pm ko, Tuesday 20th February 2018, Donnybrook Stadium – Live on eirSport 1
As a coaching team and squad, we were delighted to get through a very tough and physical St Andrews side in the first round. You just have to look at what young players like Jordan Larmour and Andrew Porter are doing ofr Ireland to realise that St Andrews produce quality players and teams. To be honest, only for a late try to extend our lead beyond a one score gap, the scoreboard might have better reflected the fact that we were under pressure throughout the 70 mins.
This time around we are up against a very different challenge, a very big physical side in Roscrea, who made it past a tough Wesley outfit that casual observers may have underrated from a distance. Roscrea’s ball carriers are not just bosh merchants, as a unit they display some lovely sleight of hand and an overall impressive offload game. This is led by tight head Michael Milne, a player who is very much out of the Tadgh Furlong mould. Billy Foley, brother of Roscrea’s cup winning captain Tim Foley, has a very balanced game and with the ever dangerous Tadgh Bird at 15, Roscrea are a force to be reckoned with.
Hopefully, we can start sharply, stretch the game and get our own ball carriers, Sean Heeran and Tim McMahon over the gainline. Over it shapes up to be a great contest between different rugby styles. As always, we just want our lads to go out and enjoy the occasion by giving it their best shot. As for predictions here, I’ll go for a cracker and maybe even a draw!
Johne’s Prediction – too tight to call!
St Michaels College vs Clongowes Wood College, 3pm ko, Wednesday 21st February 2018, Donnybrook Stadium – Live on eirSport 1
This mouth watering tie is the game of the Quarter Finals, featuring two vastly experienced, heavyweight sides.
There are any amount of fascinating match ups around the park, starting with the backrow where Scott Penny & Jody Booth go up against star man Anthony Ryan from Clongowes, right through to the back three showdown between Andrew Smyth from St Michaels versus John Maher of Clongowes. Not an inch is going to be given in this match – trust me it is going to go right down to the wire! When push comes to shove, I think St Michaels might have just have the pedigree and game to outmaneuver a very good Clongowes side but it is going to be very tight.
Johne’s Prediction – St Michaels to win by a slender 2 points.
Enjoy what should be a real showcase for quality underage rugby in the province, with hopefully great conditions and crowds to give the occasions the fantastic sense of atmosphere that the hugely dedicated players and staff deserve.