Johne’s Journal has another quick hit out, with PSA Academies’ Johne Murphy running through the rest of the highlights from a feast of Leinster Schools Senior Cup Quarter Final action. Enjoy the read!
Moving on from my understandable Mary’s bias, what a great set of Leinster Schools Senior Cup Quarter Finals we got to enjoy on eirSport across the other three days this week.
The opening match of the round, St Michaels versus holders Belvedere College, was unfortunate to clash with both the 6 Nations and the weather but the teams really set the tone for what was to follow over the four days with a great show of brave, attacking rugby. Two monster sides going at it in the wet and wind. A purist’s dream!
‘Belvo’ displayed a patience and accuracy that must have everyone else in the last 4 worried now. Their back row, led by Rudhan Byron, was simply immense, whilst their back 3 bagged two of the four tries. This shows that, much like Connacht, they have lost none of their attacking instincts after collecting silverware last year and they remain committed to give the ball width with deadly accuracy. They are clearly a very well drilled side and with David Hankshaw pulling the strings at ten, they are going to be very hard to beat.
Having said all that, credit to St Michaels who really put it up to them, especially evident up front with some fierce carries from a fantastic second row pairing of Jack Dunne and Ryan Baird. Those two were Gray-twins like and popped up everywhere throughout the game. Harry Byrne needs to be given an honorable mention too, as his vision was on display throughout. His kicking game was top drawer, particularly shown by his delicate grubber kick to the corner for St Michael’s final try.
The Monday match saw Blackrock put their credentials firmly on show, displaying fantastic game awareness in mixing both pick-and-drive and width against a typically committed and determined Terenure side. In terms of standout individuals, Patrick Patterson’s running lines and decision making at 9 were exceptional. He controls the game extremely well for them. A la Conor Murray for Ireland, he is a live threat at every ruck and this creates all sorts of problems for the defensive line. In Tom Maher, ‘Rock have a tall rangy finisher that holds his width and will score when the opportunity presents him. They are a hugely dangerous outfit.
Terenure had a tough day and tried valiantly, but weren’t able to get their own attacking threats freed to do sufficient damage. Zack Vaughan and Sam Dardis are brilliant open field runners but they just didn’t get enough space or time to show all their skills.
The last match of the sequence saw Gonzaga and Roscrea deliver a real gunslinger match, with both sides going for broke from early on. And having heard the news that Roscrea are closing after 112 years in existence, what a fitting way for them to be carried out of the Leinster Senior Cup competition on their shield. With many connections who went to the Offaly school, including current SCT hooker Tom Byrne who attended the Tignes Rugby Academy in 2016, I’m sure I share the sentiments of many schoolboy rugby fans (maybe not Ross O’Carroll Kelly) in being glad that the school reached the promised land and won the Cup finally in 2015.
But back to the match. It truly was end to end stuff, with both sides showing a total commitment to play. In full back David Lynch, Gonzaga have a proper gem, with a wonderful outside break that can create so much out wide. Roscrea pushed Gonzaga all the way and probably the try of the game came from the Roscrea’s prop Ryan Lomas, who followed up a line break like a back rower to finish off a wonderful length-of-the-field score. Our Chairman Philippe Saint-Andre would have been proud of that one!
In terms of the next stage, there’s no doubt that Blackrock will be worried about Gonzaga. The Ranelagh school play a fantastic brand of rugby and given space they will create a lot of problems for them in the Semi Final. If you can’t attend that game in person, tune in on eirSport as it should be a cracker.
In the other Semi Final, Clongowes will take much confidence from their defeat of St Marys (see my other article) but it is hard to see the Belvedere juggernaut not making another Leinster Schools Senior Cup Final in the RDS on the 17th March.
Individual performance of the round – Patrick Patterson, he really is one for the future.
Team performance of the round – goes to a Gonzaga team that reached the Leinster Schools Senior Cup Semi Final stage for the first time
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