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St Michael’s College end Gonzaga’s Leinster title defence in ruthless fashion

St Michael’s adapt their tactics in tough conditions to book a place in the decider

Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final: St Michael’s College 32 Gonzaga College 0

Methodical St Michael’s knocked out champions Gonzaga in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final at Energia Park on Monday.

The sweeping rain forced a change of plan for two schools who look to play it wide whenever appropriate, and it was St Michael’s that adapted their tactics to the conditions.

Both sides struggled with their ability to hold on to possession early on before St Michael’s opened the scoring in the 17th minute. Having stitched passes together to put David Lucey away on the left and then using one-out runners, headed by Riain Coogan, to dent the Gonzaga defence for Ethan Black to power to the line, with Joey Quigley converting.

It was a statement of intent, to hold on to the ball through the phases, with Gonzaga’s Michael Kennedy scuppering the next onslaught at the breakdown.


Billy O’Donohoe returned the complement and Quigley torpedoed a 50:22 kick to keep the pressure on for the sky blues, leading to a Quigley penalty in the 28th minute.

Gonzaga needed more than the left boot of Daragh O’Dwyer, their primary exit strategy, to combat James Sherwin’s sharp passing and the excellent kicking of Dublin minor football centre back David Lucey.

St Michael’s ball security was high-class, drawing in another penalty for Quigley to stretch it to 13-0 in the 32nd minute.

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Gonzaga’s first attack of significance, fuelled by Noah Byrne’s burst and Jamie Sheil’s carry, was suffocated by a well-organised defence.

Gonzaga’s first tactic of the new half was for O’Dwyer to send a skyscraping kick in the direction of Lucey, while David Price and Frazer McKenna made gains on the ground for St Michael’s.

O’Dwyer’s kick variation put Bobby Colbert into space where Sam Corrigan was waiting to pick up a ruck penalty.

Quigley’s tumbling kick took a touch on the way to a lineout and the forwards took over from there, turning the screw in close for the superb Coogan to pound in the try in the 43rd minute.

At last, Gonzaga started to earn front-foot ball as Noah Byrne, Sheil and Luke McLaughlin all made an impact until O’Donohoe ruined a ruck.

Centre O’Flanagan teased in a treacherous kick and O’Dwyer continued to test Lucey and Quigley in the backfield without any advantage.

O’Dwyer’s chip was taken on by Byrne in another moment that promised more than it delivered.

This didn’t stop Gonzaga from playing right to the end and giving everything as the cup was slowly prised from their grip.

The ruthlessness of St Michael’s was shown up in Chris O’Connor’s stunning individual effort from distance, with Quigley adding the conversion.

Cente Black had the final say after a pulverising sequence of forward drives, for Quigley to convert.

SCORERS – St Michael’s: E Black 2 tries; R Coogan, C O’Connor try each; J Quigley 2 pens, 3 cons.

ST MICHAEL’S: D Lucey; D Pryce, E Black, C McConnell, P Wood; J Quigley, J Sherwin (capt); B O’Donohoe, D Maguire, R Coogan; D Walsh, F McKenna; J Elliot, R Brown, S Corrigan.

Replacements: C O’Connor for Sherwin (50 mins); E McLaughlin for O’Donohoe (54); M Berman for Walsh, B Conry for McConnell, D Ryan for Pryce both (all 69); M Furlong for Maguire, H Miller for Coogan, O Twomey for Brown (all 72).

GONZAGA: N Byrne; JP Breslin, A O’Flanagan, P Masterson, B Colbert; D O’Dwyer, T Brophy; S Heneghan, L McLaughlin (capt), J Sheil; M Kennedy, M Tyrell; J Mulligan, G O’Grady, C Kennedy.

Replacements: Z Mulligan for Colbert, M Doherty for O’Grady (both 50 mins); W McMahon for Sheil (52); J O’Dwyer for Brophy (57); O Hume for C Kennedy, H Linehan for Byrne, J Brophy for McLaughlin (all 69); O Stevenson for Heneghan (73).

Referee: P Reidy (Leinster).