Belvedere keep on keeping on to claim thrilling win over St Michael’s
Mateusz Galinski’s late try helps holders set up final date with Blackrock
Belvedere’s Mateusz Galinski scores a late try to help his side secure a thrilling victory over St Michael’s in the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final at Donnybrook Stadium. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Belvedere’s David Lacey celebrates with Ted Walsh after landing the winning conversion with the final kick of the game in the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final against St Michael’s at Donnybrook Stadium. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Belvedere College 20 St Michael’s College 19
Replacement prop Mateusz Galinski turned out to be the unlikely hero as Belvedere completed a miracle comeback to set up a Leinster Senior Cup final date with Blackrock College on March18th.
Trailing 19-3 well into the final quarter, Belvedere’s win was secured with the final kick of the game with fullback David Lacey landing the conversion from the right of the posts to complete a 15-point personal haul.
The champions had to make-do without David Hawkshaw in the backs and Alekseiy Soroka at the heart of their pack.
It didn’t look that way as the rest of the crew started powerfully at close quarters, flankers Gerard Hill and Arron Coleman showing up for work.
St Michael’s were edgy on the ball, leading to uncharacteristic mistakes that cost them in their strategy.
The nerves transmitted to kickers David Lacey and David Ryan, who both missed penalties they would usually slot over.
St Michael’s took their medicine better to almost immediately strike gold.
Their number eight Dan O’Donovan got them going from a carry that put enough pressure on to draw a penalty which was posted to touch.
The lineout functioned through Ryan Baird, the maul moved at pace and scrumhalf Rob Gilsenan was nimble enough to slip the attentions of the fringe defence for Ryan’s conversion to make it 7-0 in the 16th minute.
It was not all one-way traffic as Belvedere were quick to seize on any opening, wing Alistair Loughrey flying around the outside before Lacey made it 7-3 in the 23rd minute when Penny chanced his arm at a ruck.
There was just the impression that St Michael’s could cut loose at any time.
They had to wait until their maul got another two chances, the first forcing a penalty and the second creating the room on the left for Gilsenan to send centre Jay Barron diving to the line, Ryan converting for 14-3 just before the break.
It goes without saying the next score could be crucial and it came after a period of unconvincing possession from Belvedere in which they lost the ball three times when on the move deep inside the 22.
This was the sort of profligacy they would pay for when St Michael’s exploded from deep, Baird’s passing to the fore as was the work rate of his lock partner Matthew Healy in putting Jay Barron away for his second try in the 48th minute.
Belvedere looked dead and buried as they struggled for any kind of access into the game.
They never gave up the ghost even when coach Phil Werahiko made five changes all at once.
Out of the blue, centre Matthew Grogan shot through the middle to feed Lacey for a fine try, with Lacey adding the two points from the conversion on the hour.
Suddenly, the champions had life and belief and St Michael’s had a case of the jitters.
The momentum was with Belvedere and Lacey’s penalty made it 19-13 in the 65th minute.
They used the rising tide of emotion to take them over the top, their maul splintering St Michael’s, Galinski shearing off to the right for a barely believable try for Lacey to hold his nerve from the conversion.
And Belvedere to hold onto their trophy by their fingertips.
BELVEDERE: D Lacey; A O’Grady, M Grogan, C Mulvaney, A Loughrey; J Meagher, P Lysaght; J Gleeson, L Harmon, C Cagney; N Howard, J Murphy; G Hill, A Coleman, R Byron (capt).
Replacements: M Galinski for Gleeson, J Bell for Cagney, C Scott for Howard, T Walsh for Lysaght, S Barry for Mulvaney (all 50 mins); C Mulvaney for Grogan (58).
ST MICHAEL’S: C Cosgrave; M O’Brien, D Ryan (capt), J Barron, A Smith; D Moran, R Gilsenan; J Boyle, L Barron, C Hennessy; M Healy, R Baird; J Booth, S Penny, D O’Donovan.
Replacements: F Finlay for Hennessy (44 mins); M Hernan for O’Donovan (54); J O’Loughlin for Smith (56); E Kelly for J Barron (64).
Referee: P Haycock (Leinster Branch).