Blackrock roll on against Clongowes

by Gazette Reporter

BLACKROCK College’s name will appear for the 68th time on the Leinster Schools’ Senior Cup following an epic at the RDS to retain the title at the expense of Clongowes Wood.

It was a battle of wildly shifting fortunes with Rock seemingly in a golden position only for Clongowes to bounce back and shift up a gear and lead by three points deep into the tie.

It prompted the Williamstown school’s coach Peter Smyth to say afterwards: “I thought we were in control at 14-3 and then suddenly it is 14-17.”

But his side replied in the perfect fashion to win out 22-17 and bring the title back to its regular home for yet another year.

Early on, it was an incredibly tight affair with sniffs of a breakthrough thin on the ground as the two defensives bore their teeth at a ferocious intensity.

Rock spent much of the time on the offensive with Nick Timoney leading the charge in the forwards and it eventually bore fruit.

They had crossed as early as the 12th minute when Zach O’Hagan made it over but the crucial pass in the move from Jack Power was called into question and the TMO duly confirmed the ball had gone forward, chalking off the try.

It meant it remained scoreless until close to the half hour as David O’Connor was the next to be quelled but the floodgates opened with a quick flurry of scores.

Off the back of a solid line-out maul, Conor Oliver wriggled clear and into the corner. He had earlier shown his prowess from that avenue only to be held up. Sean Kearns duly kicked a difficult conversion and his side quickly backed that up with a great try created by Jack Power’s clean break, offloading at the right time for Hugo Keenan to finish off.

Clongowes got a penalty back before the break but it looked like Blackrock were well in control of matters prior to a helter skelter second half that started at 14-3.

Fergal Cleary crossed the try line within a minute of the restart and Alan Hughes’s conversion closed the gap to four.

Cian O’Donoghue was next to strike, wiping out the Blackrock advantage in jig-time to go from 14 point leaders to trailing by three with 17 minutes left in the game.

But they showed their experience and nous to grind their way back into control and level via a Kearns penalty.

And Timoney had the final say off the back of a driving maul once again, getting over in the corner. Kearns could not land the conversion but it was enough as they denied Clongowes’ best efforts to stand tall and close out the five-point win.

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