St Mary’s College 17 Kilkenny College 9
Second half tries from Fionn King and Aaron O'Brien were pivotal at Energia Park on Wednesday afternoon as St Mary's College came from behind to defeat Kilkenny College in a Leinster Schools Senior Cup quarter-final.
Trailing 6-0 at the interval, the Rathmines side discovered an extra gear on the resumption and will now face neighbours Gonzaga College in the last-four of this year's competition.
With heavy rain descending upon the Donnybrook venue for much of the action, it was never going to be a day for intricate attacking moves. While he was narrowly off-target with an earlier effort from distance, Kilkenny out-half Sean Naughton ultimately edged his side in front with a 13th-minute penalty.
The dependable Naughton knocked over another three-pointer on 22 minutes as the Noresiders continued to take the game to their south Dublin counterparts.
Mary’s remained in contention, however, and were held up just over the line by a diligent Kilkenny defence either side of the half-time break.
Their team captain Darragh Gilbourne rattled the post off a seemingly routine close-in penalty, before replacement scrum-half Conor Tracey stroked over a subsequent effort on 50 minutes to finally get Kieran Maloney's charges up and running.
This released a weight off their shoulders and after Peter O’Beirne had set them on the front foot with a superb break, loosehead prop King edged Mary’s in front for the first time with a powerful finish 13 minutes from the end.
Kilkenny responded to this converted score with another Naughton penalty and with a man advantage due to the sin-binning of Lucca Jennings, they were expected to push hard for a winning score. Yet Mary's were restored to their full compliment with a couple of minutes still to play and O'Brien's superb drive over the whitewash confirmed their spot in the forthcoming semi-finals.
St Mary's College: F King, A O'Brien try each, C Tracey pen, 2 cons
Kilkenny College: S Naughton 3 pens
St Mary's College: J Brennan; Z Hopkins, R Moore, E Moynihan, S Kennedy; D Gilbourne, G Mulvihill; F King, M McHugh, A Sparrow; T McEniff, L Policky; A O'Brien, L Manselli, L McGauran.
Replacements: C Tracey for Mulvihill (32 mins); L Jennings for Manselli (h-t); P O'Beirne for Hopkins (50 mins); T O'Shea for King (55).
Kilkenny College: A Moore; D Symes, G O'Rourke, H Rogers, S Hillebrand; S Naughton, C Kennedy; A Whatchorn, A Botha, A Shirley; P Bramley, M Stanley; S Dudley, Z Furlong, S Smyth.
Replacements: J O'Sullivan for Stanley (65 mins)
Referee: G Sheridan (Leinster Rugby Referees)