Leinster Schools kingpins Blackrock College end Roscrea run
Seventy-time champions Blackrock College produced a strong second-half display at Energia Park yesterday to get the better of Cistercian College Roscrea at the quarter-final stage of the Leinster Schools Senior Cup.
On level terms (3-3) at the midway point in the proceedings, Roscrea were very much in the reckoning for a last-four spot. However, with ‘Rock adding 22 unanswered points on the resumption – including a brace of tries from Niall Smyth – their journey in this year’s competition ultimately came to an end.
Out-half Conor O’Shaughnessy contributed an impressive 24 points in ‘Rock’s 85-7 opening round triumph over The High School and he calmly slotted a breakthrough penalty between the posts with just under three minutes gone on the clock.
While Roscrea spectacularly came from 22 points behind to defeat Newbridge College in the previous round of the Senior Cup, the boys from the Offaly-Tipperary border realised they could ill-afford to make another slow start in the Donnybrook venue.
They were presented with an ideal opportunity to restore parity in the 10th minute, but Jack Deegan’s long-distance penalty drifted off-target. The inside centre had a far more routine kick at goal just five minutes later, however, and made no mistake on that occasion.
Although ‘Rock lost O’Shaughnessy to the sin-bin during this period, the damage was kept to a minimum and a strong break from full-back Charlie Molony ensured the Williamstown school were back inside the Roscrea half in time for his return.
However, Roscrea were more than willing to showcase their own attacking intent and threatened to break over the whitewash on a couple of occasions towards the end of the opening period. On their hand, the Cistercian defence had to be at their most abrasive to hold up ‘Rock second row Donnacha McGuire as he attempted to force his way over the line on the stroke of half-time.
Yet the start of the second half saw ‘Rock piling pressure on the opposition defence once again and they finally claimed their first try of the day when tighthead prop Smyth dotted down powerfully to the right of the posts.
O’Shaughnessy’s wayward bonus strike kept the gap between the teams at five points, but with ‘Rock beginning to dominate possession, it seemed like only a matter of time before their lead was extended.
Roscrea came under additional scrutiny as a result of the yellow card that was issued to winger Dan Punch and in his absence, Smyth rounded off an extended set-piece move on 53 minutes for his second try.
There was a sense that the floodgates might open in the wake of this five-pointer and even though Mark Walsh was denied on the right-wing moments earlier, Jack O’Neill grabbed their third try just shy of the hour mark after he spotted a gap on the far flank.
This effectively placed the outcome beyond doubt and with O’Shaughnessy knocking over a penalty on the stroke of full-time, Blackrock re-established themselves as one of the teams to beat in the competition.
Tries – N Smyth (2), J O’Neill. Pens – C O’Shaughnessy (2). Cons – C O’Shaughnessy (2).
Pens – J Deegan.
C Molony; J O’Sullivan, D Moloney, Mark Walsh, B O’Flaherty; C O’Shaughnessy, A Lindner; P Moore, J Pollard, N Smyth; T Butler, D McGuire; Michael Walsh, J O’Neill, J Angulo.
L Coffey for Lindner (52), G Wall for Michael Walsh (59), B Walsh for Butler (64), M O’Sullivan for O’Neill (67).
R Donnelly; D Punch, R Carney, J Deegan, H Finlay; J Powell, A Moloney; F Hogan, E Naughton, H Maher; J Finn, C Kearney; J Miller, W Hayes, E Brophy.
O Doody for Hogan (h-t), S Killeen for Kearney, B O’Rourke for Donnelly (both 39), F Carney for Moloney (44), S Cusack for Carney, A Walsh for Powell (both 66), C Little for Naughton, C Little for Maher (both 68).
S Holt (LRR).