Clinical Clongowes defeat St Mary’s to book semi-final spot
Sean McCrohan and Ben O’Shea play big roles in the Clane school’s success
Clongowes’ Sean McCrohan is tackled by St Mary’s duo Niall McEniff and Daragh McDonagh during the Leinster Schools Senior Cup clash at Donnybrook. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho
It took a late penalty from Clongowes’ Ben O’Shea to shake off St Mary’s in the Leinster Senior Cup quarter-final at Donnybrook.
This is an unforgiving level of competition in which St Mary’s showed so much courage, commitment and willingness to create without the cold-headed clinical edge to match, at least in the first half.
They looked smooth and in control on the way to the Clongowes 22 metre line and, conversely, out of kilter inside it. In contrast, the Clane school, showing six changes from the first round, five of those up front, did more with less.
A high tackle by flanker Sean Heeran on scrumhalf Joseph Murphy prompted a ball into the corner where a lineout was the basis for flanker David Jeffares to drive to the line for centre Ben O’Shea to make it 7-0 via a conversion in the eighth minute.
Clongowes captain Sean McCrohan was binned for playing the man with the ball in what was an opportunity St Mary’s couldn’t take.
On his return, McCrohan’s direct carry was the link between lock Matthew Martin’s sweet line and outhalf Thomas Monaghan’s flat pass for O’Shea’s try and conversion to double the lead in the 27th minute.
It got even better in the second half when McCrohan was the driving force behind Martin’s dive for the line. O’Shea added the conversion.
St Mary’s looked down and out until the momentum started to turn. They suddenly found the accuracy they wanted as centre Myles Carey delivered a stunning individual try.
This was followed by a sweet line from fullback Eamonn Byrne which was too much for a scrambling defence, left wing Ruairí Shields converting both tries to make it 21-14 in the 54th minute.
From there, St Mary’s turned the screw out wide but Clongowes clung to their lead by launching long clearances, one of which they turned into a penalty which O’Sheal slotted to seal their place in the semi-final.
CLONGOWES: J Gilheany; R Lemess, T O’Brien, B O’Shea, J Maher; T Monaghan, J Murphy; J Timmins, D Sheehan, A Odlum, Sean Phelan, Matthew Martin, D Jeffares, A Ryan, S McCrohan. Replacements: P Celebi for Phelan, T Coghlan for Jeffares, J Carroll for O’Brien (both 50 mins), C Kennelly for Maher (69 mins).
ST MARY’S: E Byrne; H Conway, C Kennedy, M Carey, R Shields; T Murray, D McDonagh; N McEniff (capt), R Bergin, J Coolican, C McElearney, L Corcoran, S Heeran, H McSweeney, R Watters. Replacements: A Dix for Conway (h-t), I Wickham for Corcoran, N Hurley for Heeran, A McEvoy for McDonagh (all 43 mins), C O’Meara for Coolican (46 mins), B McMahon for Shields (67 mins).
Referee: C Hogan, Leinster Branch.