Schools Cup: St Michael’s complete a great escape

Fired-up St Mary’s within whisker of knocking out favourites

 Max Deegan of St Michael’s is tackled by  Conn Harte Bourke of St Mary’s at Donnybrook yesterday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

Max Deegan of St Michael’s is tackled by Conn Harte Bourke of St Mary’s at Donnybrook yesterday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho.

 

St Michael’s 19, St Mary’s 14: St Mary’s came within a whisker of blowing the Leinster Schools Senior Cup wide open with a thunderous effort against St Michael’s in the first round at Donnybrook yesterday.

This was seen as a foregone conclusion by everyone outside St Mary’s camp as the pre-competition favourites brought a list of star names, mostly in the forward pack, and the sort of prime beef you only find in the best butcher’s shop.

In hindsight, that was where St Michael’s problems started as the Ailesbury Road school played as if it would all happen for them, instead of going out and dominating the gain line.

Physical size

But, it is true. It is not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog that matters most.

This was evident right from the off as the Rathmines school found rhythm immediately to hold onto the ball for the first three and a half minutes.

Big boys

They were given this when centre David Matthews latched onto an ill-advised counter from deep to stroll home for Derry O’Connor to make it 7-0 in as many minutes.

This was hardly the sign of a shock, especially as St Michael’s quickly hit back.

They went to the lineout where last year’s Ireland Schools captain James Ryan took the ball with ease, to set up a maul and peeled around to crash over for flanker Barry Fitzpatrick’s extras to level it in the 12th minute.

Their prop Rory Mulvihill improvised an overhead pass and hooker Gavin Barrett showed real speed to find the line for 12-7 in the 20th minute.

It was all going to plan.

Right? Wrong.

St Mary’s simply refused to play the patsy. Matthews engaged in contact, number eight Niall Curran brushed off a defender and O’Connor picked up the pace of the attack for his conversion to return them to the box seat with a 14-12 lead at the interval

Did wonders

Harry Byrne

They looked to be on the brink of a breakthrough until St Mary’s wing Sean McCahill stepped up to intercept. He was away. But, centre Jack Kelly maintained the pursuit and caught him.

St Mary’s came in waves to get within five metres where a vital turnover triggered a counter by Byrne and number eight Max Deegan.

Mulvihill carried the ball on and St Michael’s showed patience for scrumhalf David Duggan to sneak the final metre to the line.

Byrne converted to conclude a great escape on a day when the better team lost.

ST MICHAEL’S COLLEGE: M Heaney; J Hickey, J Kelly, O O’Meara, T Molony; R Cosgrave, D Duggan; R Mulvihill, G Barrett, S Griffin, O Dowling, J Ryan (capt), B Fitzpatrick, G Croke, M Deegan. Replacements: R Duffy for Griffin 44 mins; H Byrne for Cosgrave 53 mins; M O’Shea for Heaney 57 mins.

ST MARY’S COLLEGE: N Hughes; S McCahill, D Matthews, M Fogarty, J Ryan; D Boyle, D O’Connor; R Fanning, M Hoey, M McCormack, H Fitzpatrick, C Harte-Bourke, N Curran (capt), F Crowe, R Foley. Replacements: A Schuster for Fogarty 69 mins.

Referee: N Correll (Leinster Branch).

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