Leavy star turn for Michael's
Published 09/02/2012 | 05:00
WHEN the draw was made, St Michael's were installed as the bookies' favourites on the basis that they had an easy route to the final.
Cistercian, Roscrea clearly didn't take any heed of the script.
They bow out, after more than 170 minutes, with nothing but memories and regrets. They will look back to the drawn game a week ago and wonder how the referee played so much injury-time, but yesterday it was their own shortcomings that cost them.
Cistercian just couldn't take their chances and out-half Ciaran Gaffney had a day to forget from the tee, making just one of four attempts -- two of which were eminently kickable.
He was not the only culprit as Roscrea repeatedly got themselves into good positions, only to lose their line-out ball or concede turnovers in midfield. It was a shame because in captain Philip O'Dwyer and back-rows Ross Enraght-Moony and Rory Molony, they had the game's star performers alongside Michael's captain Dan Leavy.
Leavy is regarded as this year's most promising forward and the openside showed why with a barnstorming performance, scoring the vital try on 11 minutes.
At that stage the Dubliners appeared to have the upper hand, having dominated the opening period. They looked to have learned all of the lessons from last week's game and attacked the gainline with pace and power.
Eventually a slick offload from giant No 8 Donagh Lawlor allowed Leavy to cross from close range, following good work from Ross Byrne.
Byrne added the extras, but rather than kick on, Michael's were forced into defensive mode as Enraght-Moony took the kick-off and drove into the '22', setting the tone for the rest of the half.
Wave after wave of black and white striped jerseys attacked. Maurice Fitzgerald and O'Dwyer surged brilliantly up the left and a try looked on until Enraght-Moony was pulled into the ruck and referee Gary Glennon sent St Michael's Nick McCarthy to the sin-bin.
But the Michael's defence held firm and they got lucky with the last kick of the half as Gaffney's penalty for Roscrea came back off the upright.
Gaffney made amends early in the second half, reducing the gap to four, but in an attritional match Roscrea just couldn't find a way through.
On the occasions when St Michael's discipline slipped, Gaffney couldn't punish them.
Roscrea kept trying, but the Michael's defence stayed strong. St Michael's march on; Roscrea exit with heads held high.
ST MICHAEL'S COL -- C Diamond; B McDermott (C Fagan 35), R Kavanagh, B Holland, A Leavy; N McCarthy, D Lawlor; A Barr, H Murray (D Coulter 56), J Lawless (G Kelly 47); A Coleman (S Harold 35), R Moloney; J Murphy, D Leavy, D Lawlor.
CISTERCIAN ROSCREA -- P O'Dwyer (capt); F Higgins, C Brennan, M Mellotte, M Fitzgerald (M Kelly h-t); C Gaffney, G Ryan; S Moran, S Cody, O Heffernan; A McGrath, E Quirke; R Enraght-Moony, R Moloney, S O'Brien.
REF -- G Glennon (ARLB).