Fullback Rory Clarke’s two tries help Belvedere secure Junior Cup final place
St Michael’s valiant campaign ends in semi-final defeat at Donnybrook
Belvedere College 22 St Michael’s College 13
A brace of tries by fullback Rory Clarke proved crucial as Belvedere College booked their place in the Junior Cup final following a compelling battle with St Michael’s College at Donnybrook yesterday.
Belvedere, the second-most successful side in the competition’s history with 17 titles to their name, had the chance to get off to a good start with a 35-metre penalty after just two minutes.
Left-wing Dylan Corrigan-Forbes’ kick at goal was firmly struck but rebounded off the woodwork. But St Michael’s, aided by strong work by Harry Byrne and Robbie Dix, immediately showed their resolve and forced their opponents to retreat.
In fact, a fruitful spell inside the Belvo half helped Michael’s to create a three-point chance of their own, and though outhalf Byrne was short of the target from an awkward angle, the Ailesbury Road outfit (who secured the Junior Cup crown as recently as 2012) continued to cause the Belvedere rearguard plenty of headaches.
Belvedere eventually weathered this storm, however, and just five minutes before the interval they finally broke the deadlock.
With the pressure on St Michael’s starting to become relentless, Belvo were ready to pounce and the ball was recycled to the right-hand side where the green-booted Clarke provided the necessary overlap and he crossed over with relative ease.
Corrigan-Forbes’ conversion to this score was expertly-converted but St Michael’s responded well and a routine stoppage-time penalty from Byrne ensured they were within touching distance at the interval.
Gavin Knaggs’ charges were certainly not lacking in terms of endeavour and industry at any stage but, despite enjoying another dominant period after the restart, they failed to make their possession count and Belvedere extended their advantage thanks to a 42nd minute Corrigan-Forbes penalty.
Byrne managed to cancel out this score with a similar contribution at the other end midway through the second half. However when Clarke was put through for his second touchdown following terrific approach play from Mark Donnelly 11 minutes from time, the writing was on the wall for St Michael’s.
A breakaway try via outhalf David Hawkshaw added further gloss to the proceedings for Belvo. St Michael’s registered a deserved Chris Carey try before the finish but it proved scant consolation for them as Belvedere advanced to the March 23 decider.
BELVEDERE COLLEGE: R Clarke; M Donnelly, C Walsh, P Smith, D Corrigan-Forbes; D Hawkshaw, H O’Sullivan; S Osborne, G Murray, J Robinson; D Ring, D McKenna; R Byron, C Byrne, M Kearney. Replacements: A Grennell for Murray, P Maher for Smith (both 52 mins), J Doorley for Byron, C Doran for Walsh (both 59 mins), O O’Brien for Ring (61 mins).
ST MICHAEL’S COLLEGE: R Frankling; I Walsh, C Carey, I O’Kelly, R Dix; H Byrne, P O’Beirne; D Thompson, M Kennedy, A Deegan; J Dunne, B Leahy; R Murphy, S Penny, D O’Donovan. Replacements: R Kelly for Frankling (47 mins), J Booth for Murphy, M Corcoran for O’Kelly (both 56 mins), R Melvin for Deegan, S Judge for Thompson (both 59 mins).
Referee: N Correll (LRR).