Connacht Senior Schools Cup: The Jes edge favourites Garbally
Morgan Codyre and Michael O’Neill catch the eye for their respective schools in final clash
Gary Keane and James Hill celebrate after the final whistle. Photograph: Inpho
Colaiste Iognaid, the Jes, 16 St Joseph’s Garbally College 15
Galway city side Colaiste Iognaid, the Jes, defied the odds to claim this year’s Top Oil Connacht Senior Schools Cup, overcoming holders and favourites Garbally at the Galway Sportsground on Wednesday.
The Jes had the man of the man in their captain and outhalf Morgan Codyre, who kicked 11 points to help the city side claim its 13th Connacht senior cup and the first since 2011.
Garbally, who had beaten the Jes earlier in the season, also had a worthy man of the match in their Number eight Michael O’Neill, who scored two of his side’s three tries, but unlike last year when his single try proved the match-winner, it was insufficient for the champions and favourites to retain their crown.
Garbally were first off the mark with an 11th minute try from their captain and outhalf Frank Hopkins. A series of knock-ons from the Galway city side gave Garbally the platform in the opening minutes, and the influential Hopkins eventually crossed in the right corner, with scrumhalf Colm Reilly missing the difficult touchline kick.
However the Jes started to find their feet, with forwards Gary Keane and Ross Gorey making the hard yards, and when Garbally strayed offside, Codyre struck the city side’s opening score to reduce the gap to 5-3 after 14 minutes.
Jes centres James Hill and Ryan Hunt, always looked strong in creating space, and when lock Ross Gorey entered the back line, Diarmaid Codyre opted to chip ahead with left wing David Molloy winning the race to touch down. Older brother Morgan Codyre converted to give the city side a 10-5 lead.
The cup holders, always dangerous on the counterattack, were soon back in front. Fullback Brian Horkan broke through from his own half to set up camp 15 metres from the Jes line before O’Neill burst through at pace to touch down, levelling the contest at half time 10-10.
Although Garbally started to make more frequent inroads in the second half, the Jes proved dogged in defence, before Codyre struck a 38 metre penalty to break the deadlock after 48 minutes. However Garbally’s riposte was a well worked try from key man O’Neill after a penalty to touch, putting them in front by two points after 54 minutes.
Although they were unable to add to their score until the 68th minute, the Jes, with territorial dominance finished the stronger. Codyre, having missed a penalty and drop goal, was also short with a 65th minute effort when Stephen Grenham was yellow carded for a tip tackle on Jes openside Fionn Durkin. However he made no mistake two minutes later when his effort from just inside the 10m line gave the city side a one-point lead, enough to give their vociferous supporters reason to celebrate.
Colaiste Iognaid: D Codyre, C McCabe, R Hunt, J Hill, D Molloy, M Codyre ©, J Byrne, A Corbett, C Fallon, G Keane, A Mannion, R Gorey, C Parsons, F Durkin, J Gallagher.
Replacements, C McGuiness for Parsons (61), S Monaghan for Hill (68m).
Garbally College: B Horkan, E Galvin, C O’Brien, J Devine, B McKenna, F Hopkins (cpt)., C Reilly, J Alova, E Costello, C Coffey, C Harewood, S Grenham, M Abdallah, C Tumulty, M O’Neill.
Replacements, G Donoghue for Abdallagh (HT), C Smyth for Alova (47), R Khan for Coffey (52) J Kelly for McKenna (60).
Referee: Glenn Sheridan (IRFU).