Captain Dan Leavy was the try-scoring driving force behind St Michael’s second ever Leinster Schools Senior Cup, denying Clongowes a first three in a row in an enthralling final at the RDS yesterday.
The smaller, more explosive Clongowes front five applied pressure at the maul and scrum to deny the St Michael’s back row and half-backs a platform for the speedsters out wide. Ross Byrne and Conor Mahony swapped penalties in the first half.
Clongowes turned around into the wind. Their captain Edward Byrne’s dazzling speed from a short ball by centre Sebastian Fromm was good for a gain of 30 metres. Then, a long, looping pass was picked off by right wing Chris Fagan for a clear run to the line from 45 metres. Byrne converted to make it 10-3 in the 45th minute.
This was the trigger for the Sky Blues to alter their game plan. Byrne tried to ping the corners and put the pressure back on Clongowes.
Despite the turnover power of the scrum, Clongowes could not escape their half. St Michael’s centre Rory Kavanagh ripped through their midfield, Byrne clipped one into the corner where replacement Adam Leavy was stopped short of glory by full-back Max McFarland.
Centre Kavanagh scythed through in another break to put St Michael’s in position for a drop goal.
Instead, captain Leavy beat the first defender with footwork and the second with strength for the killer touch in the 63rd minute. Byrne converted.
Clongowes were not finished. Edward Byrne forced the issue from close-in to ground the ball. Mahony added the extras in the last minute. There was still life in the champions.
They had one play to make a miracle happen. And how they tried. They found an extra gear. They just couldn’t find the opening.
Scorers for St Michael’s: Tries: D Leavy, C Fagan. Pen: R Byrne. Cons: R Byrne (two).
Scorers for Clongowes: Try: E Byrne. Con: C Mahony. Pen: C Mahony.
ST MICHAEL’S: C Diamond; C Fagan, R O’Loughlin, R Kavanagh, C Kelleher; R Byrne, B Holland; A Barr, G Kelly, J Lawless, R Molony, A Coleman, J Murphy, D Leavy (capt), D Lawlor.
Replacements: D Coulson for Lawless (46), A Leavy for Fagan (52), S Harold for Coleman (56) A Penny for Murphy (66).
CLONGOWES WOOD: M McFarland; C Mahony, G McVerry, S Fromm, C O’Donoghue; M Nicholson, C McQuaid; E Byrne (capt), B Byrne, D O’Byrne, J Paul, R Daly, J Wallace, S Keelan, P Timmins.
Replacements: J Sullivan for Nicholson (42), C Burke for McQuaid (59), S Mulholland for Wallace (64).
Referee: P Haycock (Leinster Branch).
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