Blackrock blitz St Mary’s to reach Leinster Senior Cup final
Blackrock lay down an ominous marker as they run in six tries in Donnybrook romp
Blackrock captain Liam Turner tackles Gavin O’Brien of St Mary’s. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
Blackrock College 42 St Mary’s College 15
Slow-starters Blackrock got their act together to blitz St Mary’s in the Leinster Senior Cup semi-final at Donnybrook on Tuesday.
St Mary’s had to play it fast and loose enough to get their outside backs into the game.
To do that, they had to get hold of the ball and keep it cleanly enough to discomfort ‘Rock’s rush defence.
Blackrock had to cut down on the basic errors that punctuated and almost ended their campaign in the quarter-final.
Straight from the start, the ‘Rock boys came with an intensity in the carry that was ominous, hooker Sean Molony, prop Donnacha Mescal and flanker Michael McGagh all involved.
When St Mary’s tighthead Conor McElearney prevented a try, ‘Rock simply regrouped, angled the scrum and number eight Ed Brennan instigated a move that culminated in full-back Stephen Madigan putting wing Liam McMahon over in the corner in the sixth minute.
They were committed to building on this, St Mary’s unable to get off the line quick enough before outhalf James Tarrant’s penalty made it an eight-point game.
It took a master move from St Mary’s left wing Eoin Carey to carve ‘Rock open without the support to complete his good work.
The forwards were diligent in the pick-and drive to earn a penalty for fullback Ruairi Shields to make it 8-3 in the 18th minute.
It was then Blackrock moved into full stride as captain Liam Turner’s delicious, off the shoulder pass enabled Harry Donnelly to hare to the posts for Tarrant to convert.
This was all the confidence Donnelly needed, following up with his second, four minutes later, seizing on a blocked ball to show real pick-up in his acceleration for Tarrant to convert for 22-3 in the 25th minute.
Even when Blackrock lost number eight Ed Brennan to the bin, Turner turned on the after-burners to send McMahon in for his second and a 24-point lead just as Brennan returned on the half-time whistle.
McMahon was on the verge of a hat-trick until centre Tim McMahon whipped his legs into touch.
They had to be content with three points from the boot of full-back Stephen Madigan and, in time, Thomas Clarkson’s hard line for the fifth try, converted by Madigan.
St Mary’s twice created opening they could not avail of as wing Eoin Carey and centre Tim McMahon threatened.
As the game slowed due to tired bodies, St Mary’s began to find holes that previously weren’t there.
Replacement Joe Nolan was one grab away from a clean run to the line and didn’t waste a similar opening from wing Hugo Conway’s pass.
Then, centre Tim McMahon burst from deep for Conway to take it to the house to put a gloss on the game for them.
Gavin Jones closed the show with ‘Rock’s sixth try just as a reminder of the ruthless nature of their performance.
It was a warning of the challenge ahead for holders Belvedere and St Michael’s, who meet in the second semi-final on Wednesday.
Scorers - Blackrock College : H Donnelly, L McMahon 2 tries each; T Clarkson, G Jones try each; J Tarrant pen, 2 cons; S Madigan pen, con; St Mary’s College: 15 J Nolan, H Conway try each; R Shields pen, con.
Blackrock: S Madigan; L McMahon, L Turner (capt), T Maher, H Donnelly; J Tarrant, L O’Reilly; D Mescal, S Molony, T Clarkson, S O’Brien, J Stapleton, J Dixon, M McGagh, E Brennan. Replacements: C Duffy for Mescal, J Loscher for Brennan, G Jones for Maher all 48 mins; R Madigan for Tarrant 52 mins; R Barron for McMahon, L Mion for Molony both 53 mins; D Foley for O’Brien, H O’Malley for Clarkson both 56 mins.
St Mary’s: R Shields; H Conway, B McDonnell, T MacMahon, E Carey; S Bourke, A McEvoy; S O’Reilly, G O’Brien, C McElearney, S Heeran, I Wickham, O Byrne, H McSweeney (capt), N Hurley. Replacements: M McEvoy for McDonnell ht; Joe Nolan for Byrne 44 mins; E Franklin for A McEvoy 51 mins; P Masterson for Bourke, E Massey for O’Reilly both 53 mins; C Walsh for O’Brien, E Byrne for Wickham, E Power for McElearney all 65 mins.
Referee: D Blake, Leinster Branch.