Cistercian College Roscrea 27 Gonzaga Colllege 17
The holders Cistercian Roscrea powered past Gonzaga before finding out they will have to confront Clongowes Wood in the Leinster Senior Cup semi-final on the first week in March.
This means St Michael’s will wait on the winners of the quarter-final replay between Blackrock and Belvedere which takes place on Monday week.
Basically, the five big hitters are still in the competition and Roscrea had to land many blows to take care of a resilient Gonzaga at Donnybrook yesterday.
This was a really physical encounter in which referee Gary Glennon engaged in an argument with a Gonzaga medical representative at one point over the case of prop Fiachra Keane.
The issue of player safety popped up when Glennon was well within his rights to insist on Keane leaving the field of play on suspicion of a head knock.
There is no Head Injury Assessment involved in schools rugby and this led to a misunderstanding of the situation.
It was neither here nor there as to whether Keane was concussed or even assessed for concussion. At this level, the first and only responsibility is to player welfare.
Back in the action, Roscrea had pack power with four starting forwards back this year, led by captain Simon Meagher, and another one Aaron Browne, on his way back from injury, on the bench.
They were calm and assured in bringing their forwards onto the ball to create the space for Daniel Keane down the right. There were no arms in the tackle and Alan Tynan cracked a simple penalty for the lead.
Gonzaga have never been short of a brains trust and they knew the best way to deal with the heavy problem in front of them was to go around it.
This was effective enough to clear a path for outhalf Michael O'Kennedy to strike three points and for Harry Brennan's short ball to put wing Adam Browne clear for a superb try, topped up by O'Kennedy's conversion for 10-3 in the 13th minute.
Roscrea crunched into gear at the maul and applied enough pressure to convince Glennon a penalty try was the correct decision to allow Tynan to level it.
The champions were twice held up over the line, the second a remarkable piece of defence from flanker Jack McNamara.
The sheer weight of pressure told when tighthead Dylan Murphy was turned away only for loosehead Michael Milne to crash over at the corner for a 15-10 edge at the interval.
There was less drama in the second period as Roscrea calmly moved Gonzaga here and there, knowing their power was the key to opening the door again.
They were methodical in the way they involved backs and forwards to draw in defenders for replacement Jack Culligan to break the whitewash for replacement Conor Kelly to convert in the 45th minute.
The killer blow came from Tynan’s late change of direction onto the ball and wing Joe Murphy’s muscular finish.
There was always the likelihood of something positive happening while Gonzaga centres Harry Brennan and Barry Goulding were still on call and Brennan was the creator-in-chief for scrumhalf Rob Kelly's finish from distance in the 65th minute.
ROSCREA: A Tynan; D Keane, P O'Shea, S Hastings, J Murphy; R Gaffney, K Kavanagh; M Milne, E Maher, D Murphy; F Wycherely, A Murphy; B Diffley, J Canning, S Meagher (capt).
Replacements: C Kelly for Gaffney (14 mins); J Culligan for Canning, B Hyland for O'Shea (both 42 mins); A Browne for Murphy (50 mins); R Lomas for (60 mins); C Walsh for Milne, D Treacy for D Murphy, F Crowley for Kavanagh (all 67 mins); F McHugh for Goulding (69 mins).
GONZAGA: S Galvin; D Lynch, H Brennan, B Goulding (capt), A Browne; M O'Kennedy, R Kelly; F Keane, A McEvoy, E Coyle; S Dempsey, E Ryder; C Farrell, J McNamara, T Costello.
Replacements: H O'Grady for Dempsey (10 mins); A Caslin for Browne (46 mins); S Clear for Keane (54 mins); O James for O'Kennedy, R O'Donnell for Ryder (63 mins).
Referee: G Glennon (Leinster Branch).
Cistercian Roscrea v Clongowes Wood.
St Michael’s v Belvedere or Blackrock.
*Ties To Be Played at Donnybrook on Tuesday, March 1st and Thursday, March 3rd.