St Michael's take their time in making dominance pay over Castleknock


St Michael's 14 Castleknock 3:Outhalf Ross Byrne finally broke the back of brave Castleknock’s resistance with a try in the 57th minute for the holders St Michael’s to move into the second round of the Powerade Leinster Schools Senior Cup at Donnybrook yesterday.

Castleknock opened up with aggression in the carry, forcing a penalty surely dispatched by their fullback James McCormack in the fifth minute.

St Michael’s refused to see the sense in playing the conditions, showing a remarkable skill level in keeping the ball in hand. It paid dividends when tighthead Denis Coulson cracked the defence in the 23rd minute, outhalf Byrne converting to make amends for a penalty miss. It took Castleknock all their time to work their way out of their own half, openside Jack O’Neill popping up at number eight off two scrums to threaten down the left.

The wind and rain made it almost impossible to move the ball smoothly. Even so, St Michael’s hooker Richie Allen flew through on a good inside ball. He did not see the fast closing scrumhalf Nick McCarthy coming in support and opted for a chip over the top of McCormack, who was too quick to react to the danger. The hectic pace resumed in the second period with St Michael’s secondrow James Ryan showing plenty of toe through the middle before Castleknock were dealt a cruel blow by the loss of their captain O’Neill to injury.

St Michael’s were showing all the pace with Cian Kelleher countering from deep and wing Dan Green dancing around defenders. Castleknock were long on endeavour in holding them out. Hooker Allen spilled the ball forward on the line to offer a lifeline. But, ’Knock could not clear the ball. The pressure was non-stop. Byrne eventually burst over from close range, also converting for a 14-3 lead.

Castleknock went in search of consolation, even more but just couldn’t find the composure to match their intensity.

ST MICHAEL’S:C Kelleher; D Green, A Leavy, M Gilsenan, O O’Meara; R Byrne, N McCarthy; H Redmond, R Allen, D Coulson, R Molony (capt), J Ryan, C Cregan, A Penny, J Murphy. Replacements: C Duffy for Allen, N Quane for Coulson (both 64 mins), J O’Connell for McCarthy (67 mins), M O’Keeffe for Gilsenan (72 mins). CASTLEKNOCK:J McCormack; M McQuillan, S McEntaggart, K Dixon, C Doddy; K Doyle, D Henry; M Bennett, T Hanlon, Z Butt, E Murphy, J O’Sullivan, D Scanlon, J O’Neill (capt), N O’Riordan. Replacements: S Quinlan for O’Sullivan (38 mins), A Healy for O’Neill (46 mins), C O’Shea for McQuillan (54 mins), C Lacey for Doyle (58 mins), K Murphy for Hanlon (69 mins). Referee: D Keane (Leinster Branch).

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