SCHOOLS RUGBY – FATHER GODFREY CUP FINAL
Jack’s the lad for Naas CBS
GOREY COMMUNITY SCHOOL……….25
By Daire Walsh
JACK McKevitt’s stunning final-minute drop-goal helped Naas CBS to edge past Gorey Community School at the end of a pulsating Father Godfrey Cup decider at Lakelands Park last Thursday.
Corey looked set to prevail when Lee Cushe’s place-kick offered them a slender advantage, but McKevitt dissected the posts to give Naas the spoils in dramatic fashion.
It had already been a memorable week for the school, as they claimed their second successive Leinster Senior ‘A’ Football Championship title at Parnell Park on Wednesday night. They enjoyed a dream start to the action – tighthead prop Adel Mahmoud releasing Robert Shaw for an eighth-minute touchdown.
Full-back Andrew Osborne added the extras in confident style, but they were immediately pegged back by a determined Gorey.
Off an enterprising line-out maul, scrum-half Jack Higgins dived over for an unconverted score. The Wexford outfit then found themselves in the ascendancy just past the first-quarter mark – lock Colm Donnelly applying the finishing touches to an extended attacking spell.
Higgins’ wayward bonus strike enabled Naas to drew level through an Osborne three-pointer, before Gorey once again breached their rearguard. Sean Egan’s incisive break gave them further momentum and Mark Kinch subsequently grounded under intense pressure.
There was enough time for Naas to finish the opening period on a high, Osborne discovering a gap in behind Gorey’s defensive line to claim a seven-point salvo.
This ensured that parity was restored (17-17) in time for the interval. The helter-skelter nature of the contest continued on the resumption, with Donnelly breaking free for his second try on 34 minutes. Try as they might, though, they couldn’t escape the clutches of Naas. Capitalising on excellent build-up work by McKevitt and Osborne, the raiding Sam Dunne jinked over for their latest try.
Whereas Higgins was short at the opposite end, Osborne converted to give the Lilywhites a 24-22 cushion. Nevertheless, Gorey remained firmly in the reckoning.
Shooting at an angle that favoured his cultured left boot, Cushe expertly split the uprights to move Gorey back in front on 51 minutes. While opportunities were now at a premium, Naas initiated a final assault in stoppage-time.
Had McKevitt miscued his drop-goal attempt, the dependable Osborne may well have been able to seal the deal for Naas on his own. As it was, the lively fly-half displayed nerves of steel to secure the silverware on offer.
Afterwards, coach Joe Kelly praised his team’s determination.
“Two teams that have played each other a number of times this year and there has never been more than one score between us. Jack, he got one chance and he took it. That’s what won the game in the end, but I wouldn’t say that was the difference between the teams. It gave us the score to win,” Kelly acknowledged.
“I think Gorey worked very hard to defend against us and they knew us very well. Our game plan didn’t come true the way we wanted it to, but I suppose the last 15 minutes was really just cup rugby. It was determination and heart at the end of the day that got us over the line.”
This victory capped off a quite extraordinary couple of days for the Corban’s Lane school. On the previous evening in Parnell Park on the northside of Dublin, they secured the Leinster Schools Senior ‘B’ Football Championship for a second year in succession.
A highly emotional Kelly hailed this monumental double success – both of which kept their supporters on tenterhooks throughout.
“I think it’s probably the greatest 24 hours in the history of the school. We’re 145 years old as a school and I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything like the last 24 hours. It’s incredible, it’s really, really great. We talked about getting the double. It’s always good to win one, but when the two teams are in such significant finals you want to get both of them over the line. The boys were aware of that today.”
On their way to sealing this second-tier title, Naas suffered a considerable array of set-backs. They lost outside centre Charlie Sheridan in the opening moments and having attempted to shake off an injury of his own, Calum Stout was eventually replaced in the second half.
They also fell behind on a number of occasions over the course of the hour, before finally edging past the challenge of their Slaneyside counterparts.
“Charlie [Sheridan] has probably been one of our more dangerous backs all year. Naturally enough you have to deal with these challenges. These things happen in games. I had a feeling that if we could eventually go through our phases and get field position, and get into a position to score, we would.
“We made it quite difficult for ourselves to do that at times. We didn’t win the line-out terribly well and a couple of difficulties in scrums. The set-piece wasn’t great. I suppose if you keep believing you’ll get that chance. When the door opens, it doesn’t open too often, but when it did we managed to take it in the end,” Kelly added.
NAAS CBS: Andrew Osborne; Sam Dunne, Charlie Sheridan, Oscar Cawley, Eoin Clarke; Jack McKevitt, Ethan Travers; Calum Stout, Darragh McDonnell, Adel Mahmoud; Paddy McMahon, Robert Shaw; Jamie Carroll, Mark Alexander, Odhran Kelly.
Replacements: James Forde for C Sheridan (4), Conor Phelan for Stout (35), Simon Hughes for McDonnell (43), Brian Doonan for McMahon (45), Jack Sheridan for Dunne (57), Austin Brennan for Carroll (59).
Gorey Community School: Ronan Cleary; Pepe Papin, Brian Cushe, Simon Campbell Carty, Gavin McNulty; Lee Pushe, Jack Higgins; Jack Curley, Darragh Fitzpatrick, Mark Kinch; Killian Barnes, Colm Donnelly; Adam Cleary, Sean Egan, Ewan Stephens.
Referee: Jonathan Hollywood (Leinster Rugby Referees).