O’Reilly helps St Michael’s College meet Belvedere’s challenge head-on

Big lock powers over for two tries as Michael’s prevail in forward-dominated contest

St Michael’s College 19 Belvedere College 5

Mikey O’Reilly drove St Michael’s into the second round of the Leinster Schools Senior Cup in a bruising battle with Belvedere at Energia Park. It was appropriate that the big lock should have the biggest say in a forward-dominated contest.

The giant Belvo’ forward pack adopted a head-on strategy, looking to overpower in the maul and around the fringes. This was met with St Michael’s clever tactic of using the two-man tackle to prevent any momentum.

Gordon Barr nearly escaped up the right for Belvo’ and Jim White did just that for St Michael’s before the defence came up trumps.


However, Belvedere had the majority of the ball, Andre Ryan taken down by David Lucey and Maitiu O’Neill releasing Liam Granville into the open. Once again, St Michael’s stood firm, matching the muscle with spot-on tackle technique and the agility to disrupt at the lineout.

Bursts by Jules Fenelon and White hinted at the danger posed by St Michael’s, centre Mark Canniffe whipping the ball wide for Paddy Wood.

Despite this, Belvedere were grinding out the yards, edging the territory for hooker Granville to break in behind, Barr tackled into touch by Wilhelm de Klerk.

Typical of the game, the first half ended with St Michael’s marching forward in the maul until Alan Spicer came through the middle, causing a turnover.

The plan must have been for Belvedere to wear out their opponents, going straight back to their forwards O’Neill, Spicer and Granville.

Gordon Barr’s smart kick over the top kept the pressure on without any tangible reward.

A high tackle on wing Wood gave St Michael’s the chance to move forward, then turning down an obvious penalty to go for the jugular. They were rewarded for their confidence when O’Reilly burrowed over for the try in the 47th minute.

Sensing their opportunity, St Michael’s came again, powering right through the heart of the defence for Tom Stewart to cash-in in the same spot, Jules Fenelon converting to make it 12-0 in the 53rd minute.

It was enough to further expand the confidence of the St Michael’s forwards, coming hard again for O’Reilly to claim his second try and Fenelon his second conversion.

The clinical nature of their attack at close quarters compared favourably with Belvedere’s inability to crack the code to their opponents’ defence.

To their credit, Belvedere refused to fall away, driving straight, making ground through an admirable work ethic and, at last, securing a try in the left corner by wing Andre Ryan.

St Michael’s College: D Lucey; L Kirkham (C Foley 64), J Fenelon, M Canniffe (C McConnell 69) , P Wood; W De Klerk, J Sherwin (C O’Connor 69); B Howard, T Stewart (T Begley 69), R Coogan (D Maguire 60), D Walsh, M O’Reilly, J White (Capt, B O’Donoghue ht) R Brown, S Corrigan.

Belvedere College: I Cuddy; G Barr, P O’ Grady, J Dunne, A Ryan; L Gaughan, P Flannagan (Capt, J Lynch 57); E McDermott, L Granville (R Bolger 53), A O’Rahilly (D Reddin 57), R McCann (C Coughlin 53), A Spicer, M McMahon, A Usanov, M O’Neill.

Referee: J Carville, Leinster Branch.