Belvedere out to set new record in Leinster Senior Cup final
Belvo hunt an unprecedented third trophy in a row while Rock boys target 69th title
Belvedere captain Ruadhan Byron is tackled by David Ryan of St Michael’s in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
Leinster Schools Senior Cup Final preview: Belvedere v Blackrock, RDS, Sunday, 2pm (Live Eir Sport)
It is all about milestones for Belvedere and Blackrock as the Leinster Senior Cup comes up for grabs at the RDS on Sunday afternoon.
There are many sub-plots at play as holders Belvo hunt an unprecedented third trophy in a row to outdo the accomplishments of 1923-24 and 1971-72.
As ever, Blackrock have their reasons for reaching the mountain top for the first time since 2014, a break of four years for the 68-time champions.
In fact, St Michael’s looked like the best in the competition until Belvedere escaped the strait-jacket, rebounding from 16 points down with 12 minutes left to play.
It was the sort of comeback that would make believers out of the most sceptical as fullback David Lacey and captain Ruadhan Byron led the 20-19 semi-final recovery.
It is doubtful whether it would have happened without what had transpired from the previous two years in which they took revenge on Roscrea (31-7) in 2016 and held out against Blackrock (10-3) in 2017.
Number eight Byron will be the only starter from last year unless David Hawkshaw can recover from a shoulder injury in the first round.
The ‘Rock boys will have revenge on their minds and they have the all-round talent to get the job done.
Captain Liam Turner has been important in the midfield, while wings Harry Donnelly and Liam McMahon both struck for a double in the 42-15 semi-final domination of St Mary’s.
Cerainly, the four changes made by coach Justin Vanstone made an impact as number eight Ed Brennan, prop Donnacha Mescal and McMahon all returned from injury, while Louis O’Reilly was promoted to scrumhalf.
There is a fair argument to be made that the more direct avenues taken by Belvedere will suit the bigger, heavier Blackrock pack, who also have more threats out wide.
Paths to the final
First round: Belvedere 11 Gonzaga 10; Blackrock 46 Castleknock 20.
Quarter-finals: Belvedere 23 Newbridge 7; Blackrock 19 St Gerard’s 17.
Semi-finals: Belvedere 20 St Michael’s 19; Blackrock 42 St Mary’s 15.
BLACKROCK (possible): Stephen Madigan; Liam McMahon, Liam Turner (capt), Tom Maher, Harry Donnelly; James Tarrant, Louis O’Reilly; Donnacha Mescal, Seán Molony, Thomas Clarkson; Seán O’Brien; Jack Stapleton, Josh Dixon, Michael McGagh, Ed Brennan.
BELVEDERE (possible): David Lacey; Alex O’Grady, Matthew Grogan, Cailean Mulvaney, Alistair Loughrey; John Meagher, Patrick Lysaght; James Gleeson, Luke Harmon, Conor Cagney; Neil Howard, James Murphy; Gerard Hill, Aaron Coleman, Ruadhan Byron (capt).