Clongowes see off High School to set up tie with Newbridge
AS EXPECTED, Clongowes Wood College fended off their willing opponents High School at Donnybrook yesterday, to set up a Leinster Schools senior cup semi final - not to mention a Kildare derby - against Newbridge College in two weeks time.
High School brought to this game a passion and pedigree that Clongowes never underestimated and had not been overwhelmed by any means.
Not withstanding this, second row Ian Sheehy's try did seem to visibly deflate them. In a game of this nature, it is paramount that the underdogs make the better start. At this stage, Clongowes were already 3-0 in front as High School second row Mervyn Craven went over the top at a ruck on his own 22, to present full back Gordon D'Arcy with a simple penalty.
Clongowes' out half, Ross Ryan, then sent a diagonal kick which left High School full back Scott Wynne in a muddle on his own line. From the resulting five metre scrum, the entire back row orchestrated a clinical maul that ended with Sheehy claiming the touch down. D'Arcy missed the difficult conversion wide out on the right.
Into first half injury time, the game was effectively ended as a contest, when Clongowes centre Shane Whelan - the son of Irish coach Pat Whelan - evaded two attempted tackles to score at the posts. This time D'Arcy converted.
There had already been signs that Clongowes were slipping into a groove. High School were finding possession more and more difficult to come by. Second rows Alex McKee and Craven took some lineout ball but their team mates found holding on to it increasingly beyond them.
They turned over ball, as Clongowes rucked and scavanged around the fringes in their best tradition.
Right wing John Mark O'Leary finished off the good work of D'Arcy and captain John Hogan three minutes into the new half to emulate Newbridge's 20-0 demolition of Castleknock on Monday last.
With the end in sight, Clongowes appeared to lose concentration, conceding penalties - near their line. Eventually, outstanding flanker Gary McGouran availed of this to barge over. His out half David Bell who was unpredictable throughout and never passed up a chance to run at the opposition, was rewarded with a conversion.
Not to be outdone, Clongowes regrouped and finished strongly for left wing David Hourihane to cross the line in injury time.
Clongowes are no world beaters and on all known form go into their semi final as underdogs. However, previous years are littered with examples of Clongowes Wood triumphs founded on application and organisation in the face of seemingly superior opposition.