Johne’s Journal is back with an indepth look at the Leinster Schools Senior Cup Semi Finals and who he fanscies to make the RDS for the Cup Final on 17th March. Enjoy the read!
So its Leinster Schools Senior Cup Semi Finals time and a fantastic renewal of the competition sees all four teams holding a genuine chance of lifting the Cup on St. Patrick’s Day.
Clongowes Wood College v Belvedere College, Leinster Schools Senior Cup Semi Finals – 3pm kick off, Monday 6th March, Donnybrook Stadium
First up, live on eir Sport, Clongowes Wood College take on holders Belvedere College, two very powerful sides that have big ball carriers laced across both squads. Belvo play a great style of rugby based on their 2016 Cup winning formula, using gamebreaking ball carries to deliver gain line incisions, before quickly exploiting width to unlock the space on the edges created by their direct runners in close. Clongowes, by contrast, play a more direct and extremely accurate brand of rugby, built around strong ball carries getting up and getting around the corner. This approach was seen to great effect in their second quarter dominance versus my own St Mary’s College team in the Quarter Final. Their accuracy in green zone is very high and their power is a tough force to stop.
The tactical battle between both team captains and number eights, Belvedere’s Rudhan Bryon and Clongowes’ Sean McCrohan is going to be intriguing. Both lads are pivotal to their respective teams and who ever gets on top in this battle will create massive momentum for their side. Controlling the game will be very important and Clongowes 9 Joseph Murphy is their general in this area, marshaling those big runners around the corner. A lot of the tactical responsibility lies with him and if Belvo can shut him down, they should be strong enough to get over the line.
Prediction – Belvedere College to emerge from a classic with a one score victory but it will be a very close and physical encounter.
Blackrock College v Gonzaga College, Leinster Schools Senior Cup Semi Finals – 3pm kick off, Tuesday 7th March, Donnybrook Stadium
The second Semi Final (live on eir Sport on Tuesday) between Blackrock College and Gonzaga College should be a pulsating fixture. Hopefully the weather stays dry for the day and everyone can see both sides in full flow.
These two teams play a great brand of rugby, playing smart ‘heads up’ rugby in looking to continually move the point of contact, spreading the ball with ease between backs and forwards. Rock have their own ‘Conor Murray’ in half back Patrick Patterson, showing real similarities with the Muster, Ireland and Lions number 9 in how he attacks the line and brings runners into play. He is an exceptional threat at every single ruck and can create a huge amount of confusion in the defensive line. Gonzaga need to control Patterson and make sure they hold a strong defensive line, not getting drawn to him when he runs laterally and continually hounding him at close quarters.
As long as they don’t let the occasion of their first even Leinster Schools Senior Cup Semi Final to overawe them, Gonzaga’s attacking game will fire and with threats out wide like David Lynch, they really need to stay true to the approach that has given such return in this campaign. They are a great team to watch and hopefully they can continue their impressive run into the final.
My heart would love to see them follow through to their first ever Final but my head says Rock will pull through. In Paterson, they have a real gem and they too play a great brand of rugby.
Prediction – Blackrock by a score in a high scoring game. Fingers crossed the rain stays away!
Also, special mention too to the Senior Cup Finalists coming out of some great competitions in the other provinces (Pres Cork v Glenstal in Munster, RBAI v Methody in Ulster and Coláiste Iognáid (The Jes) v Summerhill College in Connacht). eir Sport really hit the jackpot with the dramatic live screening of the Munster Semi Finals during the week (read the match reports on our partners Munster Haka https://munsterhaka.com/category/munster-haka-schools/), when both were cliffhangers decided late on. Hoping for more of the same in Leinster over the next 48 hours.
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