Blackrock’s bench power ends courageous Castleknock resistance
Game was all square in the 42nd minute before south Dublin side pulled away
Luke McMenamin of Castleknock College is stopped in his tracks by a tackle from Blackrock College’s Harry Donnelly during the Bank of Ireland Leinster Senior Cup round one game at Donnybrook Stadium. Photograph: Oisín Keniry/Inpho
It took a powerhouse final quarter for Blackrock to finally subdue courageous Castleknock in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup first round at Donnybrook on Tuesday.
Castleknock had to have everything go their way to hold any chance of carrying off a shock. and they certainly started well enough with flanker Adam Corcoran at the head of the charge to unsettle ’Rock.
However, this was not sustained and the Williamstown school moved ruthlessly into position to activate a maul that rolled for 15 metres and the opening try from hooker Seán Molony.
It was then ’Knock triggered an attack around the outside where wing Daire Turley came close to striking back, but for a foot in touch.
They were able to reduce the difference from outhalf Cian Egenton’s penalty in the eighth minute.
The Blue & Whites cranked up the pressure, exploiting a five-metre scrum for full-back Stephen Madigan to cross at his leisure, following textbook work from number eight Michael McGagh and scrumhalf Ross Barron.
It wasn’t long before Barron was the architect of the third try, delaying his short ball to put lock Seán O’Brien into a hole for a clean run to the line, Madigan converting for a 17-3 lead in the 15th minute.
It was already looking like a lost cause for Castleknock but they refused to follow the script.
The play was called back for a penalty and scrumhalf Conor Neville went quickly for secondrow Max Mellet to dive over bodies for a much-needed try, converted by Egenton, to leave Blackrock 17-10 ahead at the interval.
Castleknock did even better on the resumption, outstanding openside Adam Corcoran playing his part in turning defence into attack for prop Seán Picard to punch forward and scrumhalf Neville to outfox ’Rock’s blindside for a superb try, converted by Egenton, to square it in the 42nd minute.
The Williamstown school regained the lead from Madigan’s penalty, Egenton answering in kind in the 46th minute.
It was then Blackrock’s bench power kicked in, Barron’s looping pass putting Madigan in for his second try on the right.
The issue was put beyond doubt when the ’Rock maul cranked into gear again for hooker Molony to plunge over in the 56th minute.
He quickly completed a double and number eight McGagh crunched through a tackle for his brace to end Castleknock’s campaign.
Replacements: J Loscher for Burke (25 mins); H O’Malley for Mescal (34); L O’Reilly for Barron (50); G Jones for R Madigan (58); D Foley for Stapleton (60); D Fitzgibbon for Tarrant (62); L Mion for Molony, J Kirby for Clarkson (both 64 mins).
Replacements: D Waldron for O’Flynn (50 mins); J Roche for Turley (53); E Keogh for Callinan (58); F Stanley for McCarrick (60); M Holton for Picard, S Quinn for Chester (both 64); R O’Farrell for Neville, A Malone for Gerhardt (both 66).
Referee: T Townend (Leinster Branch)