Belvedere see off St Michael’s and set sights on Roscrea

RDS final on Sunday week will be a repeat of last year’s decider

 

Belvedere College 36 St Michael’s College 22

There was something of a sense of déjà vu by the final whistle as Belvedere sealed their fate to meet Cistercian Roscrea in a repeat of last year’s Leinster Schools Senior Cup final to take place at The RDS on Sunday week.

Whereas last year’s renewal was seen as a 50-50 contest, Belvedere will take the confidence from beating Blackrock and St Michael’s to embrace the tag of favourites this time.

There was a clinical edge to everything Belvo did as they carved up St Michael’s defence for right wing James McKeown to speed over for a stunning try which centre Conor Jennings converted.

St Michael’s went quickly back on the attack for flanker Scott Penny to go close to glory. There was consolation in outhalf Harry Byrne’s three-pointer.

The strange thing was there was little between these two as they got stuck into their patterns and each other.

St Michael’s loosehead Ronan Kelleher was turned in at a scrum for Jennings to strike from 30 metres.

It took a rocking tackle from captain Brian Egan to prompt a turnover at the breakdown and Belvo seized on it to go through the gears.

Max Kearney churned the extra yards out of a refusal to go to ground and scrumhalf Paraic Cagney was on the spot to snipe for the line, Jennings’s extras making it 17-3 in the 24th minute.

The next score would be important for Belvedere; critical to St Michael’s plan for a comeback.

The book was as good as closed when Jennings hared though the middle to find the intelligent Hugh Sexton as the link in the chain to McKeown, who had the gas to get it done in the right corner in the 44th minute.

The Belvedere defence was sure-footed and St Michael’s wide game was running right into the traps they set. Or, so it appeared.

Captain Jack Kelly was still a terror on the ball and his carry created the go-forward for St Michael’s to get their maul rolling, swinging it one way then the other for Kelly to touch down.

Outhalf Byrne converted from wide on the left for 22-10 in the 51st minute.

Again, the strength of Kelly was the spark for number eight Barry Fitzpatrick to claim a close-range try to make it a one-score game in the 58th minute.

There were visual signs of Belvedere tiring from having to defend in the wide channels.

The boys in blue were on the run again when McKeown stepped in to grab Kelly’s pass for what looked like the sealing try, Jennings’s conversion making it a 14-point game.

The refusal of St Michael’s to sag was reflected in lock Jack Dunne’s finish for another seven points with just four minutes to play on the clock.

It was high-risk time and the gamble by St Michael’s to flash the ball across their own 22 was foiled as Hugh O’Sullivan’s stepped in for another intercept try, converted again by Jennings.

BELVEDERE: H O’Sullivan; J McKeown, C Jennings, H Sexton, P Maher; D Hawkshaw, P Cagney; D McCaffrey, C Galvin, C Wynne-Walsh; H Fenlon, B Egan (capt); S McNulty, M Kearney, T de Jongh.

Replacements: J Iredale for Kearney (51 mins); J Robinson for Wynne-Walsh, C Molloy for McCaffrey, J Kenny for McNulty (all 61 mins); S Osbourne for Galvin, F Flood for Maher, R Byron for Fenlon (all 63 mins); F Smith for Cagney (68 mins).

ST MICHAEL’S: J Kelly (capt); M Heaney, J Hickey, I O’Kelly, J O’Loughlin; H Byrne, T Killeen; R Kelleher, S Judge, S Griffin; R Baird, J Dunne; O Dowling, S Penny, B Fitzpatrick.

Replacements: M O’Donahoe for Griffin, L Duffy for McCaffrey, A Courtney for Baird (all 55 mins); P O’Beirne for Killeen, D Ryan for O’Kelly (both 58 mins); M Kennedy for Judge (61 mins); D O’Donovan for O’Loughlin (62 mins); M Roche for Penny ( 68 mins).

Referee: J Carvill (Leinster Branch)

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