Garbally College 31 CBS Roscommon 6
The aristocrats of Connacht Schools’ rugby prevailed over the Roscommon rookies in a new pairing in this year’s Top Oil Schools Senior Rugby Cup at the Sportsgound.
Roscommon, having only won a junior cup in 2015, came into their first Connacht final as overwhelming underdogs. But, having beaten Marist Athlone, Sligo Grammar and Colaiste Iognaid, en route to the final, they proved a gritty and tough team for Garbally to break down in the opening 40 minutes. It was not until the second half that Garbally’s class and experience prevailed, halting any hopes of a fairytale end for the new kids on the block from Roscommon and ensuring Garbally won both junior and senior cups this season.
In the opening half Roscommon revelled in the physicality, forcing Garbally into conceding a string of penalties while content to ride tackles in attack. However, they were not helped by a misfiring lineout which hampered their go-forward ball and their lack of experience forced them into a scramble defence against the wind.
As a result it took 26 minutes to break the deadlock, when from a turnover in their own half Garbally spread the ball wide through Stephen Mannion and Shane Jennings before left wing Sean Horkan had the legs to sprint away from a chasing defence for the opening try. Mannion added the extras for a 7-0 Garbally lead.
It gave the champions the momentum, and with Mannion using the wind to put them in position, CBS found themselves on the back foot again. Mannion, son of Connacht legend Noel Mannion, delivered the right touches on the ball and was helped by influential fullback Shane Jennings, a Galway minor hurler, who provided right wing Shea Hennessy to finish for their second try. Mannion once again added the extras for a 14-0 half-time lead.
CBS were quickly on the scoreboard after the break, opting for a long-range penalty kick, and centre Mark Purcell, with the wind behind them, struck it perfectly between the posts to get the Roscommon school up and running. Although they struggled to get possession they were rewarded with a second penalty. It resulted in a yellow card for Garbally scrumhalf Matthew Devine, son of former Connacht player Mike and brother of winning junior captain John, and Purcell successfully kicked the points from inside his own half to close the gap to 14-6.
However, the tide quickly turned when, against the run of play, CBS lost possession and Mannion raced upfield to score and add the conversion, stretching the lead to 21-6. And it was all over when Oisin McCormack added two more tries ensuring the Connacht kingpins secured their 47th title.
Garbally College: S Jennings; S Hennessy, S O'Carroll, J Carry, S Horkan; S Mannion, M Devine; Seamus Egan, C Dolan, J Curley; F Finneran, P Galvin; M Mitchell, O McCormack, P Grehan. Replacments: Dempsey for Curley and J Claffey for Galvin (both 39 mins), O Dooley for Dolan (58), C Finn for Devine (60), J Noone for Mitchell (65), C Goode for Hennessy (68), J Ryan for Egan and K Blackweir for Grehan (69).
CBS Roscommon: M Dunne; R O'Keeffe, C Glennon, M Purcell, C Walsh; T Lambe, A Hession; T Farrell, R McGuinness, J Tucker; C Rohan, L Maher; J McDonnell, J Martin, J Keegan. Replacements: A Lyons for O'Keeffe (52 mins), R Lambe for Keegan (66).
Referee: Jason Cairns
Garbally win Junior Cup 22-15
Garbally College regained the Top Oil Connacht Junior A Schools' crown they reliquinshed last season to Marist, Athlone, with a 22-15 victory over Galway city school Colaiste Iognaid.
Garbally College held a wind-assisted 17-5 half-time lead in junior event, courtesy of tries from openside Luke Walsh and number eight Daithi Blackweir, both converted by fullback Adam O'Carroll.
Colaiste Iognaid's right wing James Harrison scored midway through the half for the city side, and when a period of early pressure in the second half yielded a second try, scored by centre Adam Madden, and converted by Charlie Power, the Jes had narrowed the gap to 17-12.
Another Power penalty left the Jes just two points adrift, but a try near the death from Garbally's Samuel Almeida in the right corner ensured the Ballinasloe school prevailed.