Holders Belvedere make heavy work of seeing off Gonzaga
Belvedere captain David Hawkshaw suffers arm injury in first-round clash
Gonzaga’s Brian O’Donnell is held up by the Belvedere defence during the Bank of Ireland Leinster Senior Cup first-round game at Donnybrook Stadium. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
Belvedere College 11 Gonzaga College 10
Holders Belvedere just about did enough to hold off Gonzaga by the slimmest margin to qualify for the Leinster Schools Senior Cup quarter-final at Donnybrook on Sunday.
In the process, they suffered a body blow that could reverberate through the rest of the competition when their captain David Hawkshaw was withdrawn with a serious looking arm injury after half-an-hour.
The only compensation was that it came just after they had moved into a 5-3 lead from flanker Aaron Coleman’s try in the 26th minute in a game they never dominated.
The signs of Belvedere getting their act together were there in scrumhalf Ted Walsh’s half break and Coleman’s support line for a finely executed effort.
Before that, Gonzaga had moved ahead from scrumhalf Jack Connolly’s penalty when a powerful maul was taken down by illegal means in the seventh minute.
Maybe the Sandford Road school was hampered by playing three natural inside centres – Eoin Barr at 10, Arthur Henry at 12 and Brian O’Donnell at 13 and they lacked the cutting edge to go with the forward momentum given by Simon Clear, Ian O’Grady and Eoin Buggy.
They came out for the second period with Belvedere appearing to take control through the driving of prop James Gleeson, lock Alekseiy Soroka, flanker Gerard Hill and the subtle touches of number eight Ruadhan Byron.
The Northsiders made it a two-score game when Walsh had his inside ball slapped down for fullback John Lacey to split the posts in the 50th minute.
All the while, Gonzaga were peppering the gain line with direct carriers that were, mostly, meat and drink to Belvo’s defence.
On a rare breakout, an illegal tackle resulted in Lacey arrowing a penalty from 42 metres in the 64th minute.
In the blink of an eye, Connolly speared through on the right and found his captain Robbie Kidney on his inside shoulder for a picture-perfect try which Connolly converted to take them as close as they would get.
BELVEDERE: D Lacey; M Grogan, J O’Grady, D Hawkshaw (capt), A Loughrey; J Leonard, T Walsh; J Gleeson, L Harmon, C Cagney; A Soroka, N Howard; G Hill, A Coleman, R Byron.
Replacements: P Twomey for Harmon (10 mins), J Meagher for Hawkshaw (30 mins), P Lysaght for Leonard, J Bell for Cagney, J Haughey for Howard (all 58 mins), A O’Grady for Loughrey (60 mins).
GONZAGA: F O’Grady; F Ó hOisín, B O’Donnell, A Henry, D Inglis; E Barr, J Connolly; H Godson, H Fitzgerald, S Clear; E Buggy, C Fassbender; I O’Grady, J Barry, R Kidney (capt).
Replacements: M Holley for Fassbender (50 mins), M Meagher for Fitzgerald (52), J Coolican for O’Grady (62), K Morgan for Ó hOisín (68).
Referee: P Haycock (Leinster Branch).