St Michael’s see off Blackrock to take Leinster Schools Junior Cup
Michael’s score 14 points in the last three minutes to complete Schools Cup double
St Michael’s celebrate their Leinster Schools Junior Cup final win over Blackrock. Photograph: Oisin Keniry/Inpho
Leinster Schools Junior Cup final: St Michael’s College 26 Blackrock College 19
St Michael’s struck for 14 points in the last three minutes to rip the Leinster Junior Cup away from Blackrock at Donnybrook on Wednesday.
The midweek appointment took away from the attendance, but not from the atmosphere.
What has evolved into the greatest rivalry in Leinster schools rugby was set for the latest chapter on a warm afternoon.
The first crack appeared when Blackrock centre Hugh Cooney almost put Ruben Moloney into space, the ball slipping from the fullback’s hands.
St Michael’s were not quite as loose, constructing a lovely move with prop Dan Barron as the pivot for fullback Henry McErlean’s kick to be collected by wing Tiernan Hurley, for a smashing try in the third minute.
It wasn’t long after that Blackrock lost Moloney to injury before their influential loose forwards Liam Molony and Gus McCarthy and left wing Ethan Laing broke the gain line.
They made hay on their first driving maul, moving 20 metres, for Molony to shear off to the left for a try, converted by outhalf Zach Quirke in the 10th minute.
St Michael’s forfeited their fullback McErlean to injury and Quirke’s cruel grubber earned a lineout off the legs of Hurley.
There was unbelievable patience in how Blackrock worked the ball through the phases for scrumhalf Will Fitzgerald to skip to the left corner, Quirke’s touchline conversion making it a two-score game at the break.
The gap widened when St Michael’s failed to find touch and Cian Ryan had the good sense to locate Ethan Laing in midfield.
The wing’s top gear was too much to handle as Laing blazed away from halfway for a stunning individual try for 19-5 on half-time.
It was obvious Blackrock decided to kick long and pressure the receiver, challenging St Michael’s to counter from deep.
They could not quite make the passes stick and errors kept Blackrock in the right area of the field.
St Michael’s needed inspiration and they got it from Michael Sadlier’s driving run, Sam Berman’s break and Zach Baird’s touchdown, Gunne converting in the 46th minute.
The temperature of the game rocketed from there as St Michael’s found their rhythm.
The attack flowed for prop Sean Egan to finish off the work of lock David Woods, Gunne squaring it in the 57th minute.
The turnaround was complete when Egan took off, Hurley cut back and replacement David Fegan came late onto the ball for a try worthy of winning any match, Gunne converting at the final whistle.
St Michael’s College: H McErlean; D Whelehan, M Victory, S Berman, T Hurley; K McMahon, F Gunne; D Barron, M Sherwin, S Egan, M Sadlier, D Woods, D Carroll, J Brown, Z Baird (capt). Replacements: JP Tiernan for McErlean 16 mins; D Fegan for Carroll 46 mins; C Foley for Whelehan 58 mins.
Blackrock: R Moloney; C Ryan, H Cooney, F Mei, E Laing; Z Quirke, W Fitzgerald; C O’Brien, G Barron, P McCarthy, S Green, T Brigg, J McLoughlin, L Molony, G McCarthy (capt). Replacements: C Leahy for Moloney 7 mins; M Caskey for Cooney 46 mins; M le Bail for O’Brien, M Brophy for McLoughlin both 57 mins.
Referee: G Sheridan, Leinster Branch.