Roscrea come from behind to beat Clongowes at Donnybrook
Leinster Senior Cup holders use maul to devastating effect to book final spot
Sam Hastings and Fineen Wycherley celebrate Cistercian College Roscrea’s victory over Clongowes wood in the semi-final of the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup at Donnybrook. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho
Cistercian College Roscrea 24 Clongowes Wood College 18
The school which won the Leinster Senior Cup for the first time last year is one win away from back-to-back titles after Cistercian College Roscrea came from behind against Clongowes Wood College at Donnybrook on Tuesday.
The holders came with enough experience from last year in their ranks with eight men back for more glory and another in Aaron Browne to be introduced from the bench.
It was Clongowes, however, who had first use of a significant wind and they went about using it very well.
When Roscrea’s Alan Tynan opted to run back the ball, the outhalf was nabbed in possession and the cavalry was too slow in arriving.
The penalty was whistled and centre Benjamin O’Shea made it look easy for the first three points.
It took a sweet angle from hooker Daniel Sheehan to crack the first line of defence and the multiple thrusts for the line narrowed the Roscrea cover for fullback Michael Silvester to complete a well-devised try for O’Shea to make it a 10-point game in the 17th minute.
The hazardous wind made handling difficult and Roscrea had the good sense to turn to their forwards, allied to the strength in contact of centre Sam Hastings.
They camped close to the line before a penalty meant a maul from five metres out and a try by tighthead prop Dylan Murphy to halve the deficit on the half-hour.
Clongowes were clever enough to engineer a penalty for O’Shea to give them a two-score lead, 13-5, at the break.
From there, the game swung one way, then the other as Roscrea hooker Eoghan Meagher was the inspiration behind a wonder-move which culminated in one prop Murphy putting the other Michael Milne over for fullback Conor Kelly to make it 13-12 in the 49th minute.
This was met with clear thinking from Clongowes and once a Roscrea move broke down in midfield, they moved menacingly into position. The space was right and they went there for wing Fiachra Lynch to reach out for the line and restore a six-point lead.
As the rain pelted down, controlling the ball became more difficult.
The maul became Roscrea’s dominant weapon and Milne planted his second try on the back of another one to leave the minimum between them.
It all turned dramatically on Tynan’s penalty to touch which sailed forever, bobbling into touch five metre out when it could just as easily travelled to the dead-ball line.
It was a fortune occurrence too good to turn down and the maul really motored this time for flanker Brian Diffley to claim the try.
Fullback Kelly even had the composure to arrow through the conversion from wide on the left to give Roscrea a lead of six points.
They held it all the way to the end to set up a final date with the winners of Thursday’s second semi-final between Belvedere and St Michael’s . CISTERCIAN COLLEGE ROSCREA: C Kelly; D Keane, P O’Shea, S Hastings, J Murphy; A Tynan, K Kavanagh; M Milne, E Maher, D Murphy; F Wycherley, A Murphy; B Diffley, J Canning, S Meagher (capt).
Replacements: B Hyland for O’Shea (half-time), Aaron Browne for A Murphy (40 mins), Jack Culligan for Canning (46 mins).
CLONGOWES WOOD: M Silvester; F Lynch, M O’Connor, B O’Shea, R Lemess; T Monaghan, J Murphy; J Martin, D Sheehan, E Carroll; J Moore (capt), F McCarthy; P Nulty, S McMahon, D Jeffares.
Replacements: A Kelly for Jeffares (41 mins), T Dooley for Sheehan, G Graham for Martin, B Maher for Monaghan (all 66 mins).
Referee: P Haycock (Leinster Branch).