Monday 25 September 2017

Champs Belvo lead the way

Two-in-a-row Northsiders rewarded with five players on Leinster Schools Senior Cup Team of the Tournament, writes Cian Tracey
Ben O’Shea and Sean McCrohan of Clongowes Wood College are presented with their jerseys by the Irish Independent’s Tony Ward. Photo: Damien Eagers
Ben O’Shea and Sean McCrohan of Clongowes Wood College are presented with their jerseys by the Irish Independent’s Tony Ward. Photo: Damien Eagers
Leinster Schools Rugby Top XV Leinster players (From front): David Heavey (Blackrock College), Tom Roche (Blackrock College), Patrick Patterson (Blackrock College), Hugh O’Sullivan (Belvedere College), David Hawkshaw (Belvedere College), Niall McEniff (St Marys) Back Row: Sean McCrohan (Clongowes Wood), Andrew Murphy (Blackrock College), Stephen McLoughlin, (Blackrock College), Max Kearney (Belvedere College), Ruadhan Byron (Belvedere College), Oran O’Brien (Belvedere College), Jack Aungier (St Fintan’s Sutton), James Kenny (Gonzaga College) and Ben O’Shea (Clongowes Wood) DAMIEN EAGERS
St Marys’ Niall McEniff with Tony Ward (centre), his father Niall McEniff Snr, mother Miriam and St Mary’s Steve Hennessy
Blackrock’s Tom Roche and his brother Mark (right) with Tony Ward. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Tony Ward and Leinster Rugby’s head of communications Marcus Ó Buachalla get proceedings underway at Bank of Ireland College Green
Belvedere’s David Hawkshaw with Tony Ward and his parents Sean and Anne. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Blackrock’s David Heavey with Tony Ward and Bank of Ireland’s Padraic Brennan. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Blackrock’s Patrick Patterson with Tony Ward and Padraic Brennan. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Belvedere’s Max Kearney with Tony Ward and Padraic Brennan. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Blackrock’s Andrew Murphy with Tony Ward and Padraic Brennan. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Blackrock’s Stephen McLoughlin with Tony Ward and Padraic Brennan. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Jack Aungier of St Fintan’s Sutton with Tony Ward and Padraic Brennan. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Gonzaga’s James Kenny with Tony Ward and Padraic Brennann. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Ruadhan Byron with Tony Ward and Padraic Brennan. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Belvedere’s Oran O’Brien with Tony Ward and Padraic Brennan. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Clongowes’ Sean McCrohan with Tony Ward and Padraic Brennan. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Belvedere’s Hugh O’Sullivan with Tony Ward and Padraic Brennan. Picture credit; Damien Eagers
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

How fitting that it was a massive defensive effort from Belvedere College that eventually got them over the line to ensure that the Senior Cup made its way back over the Liffey for the second year running.

At the heart of Belvo's remarkable defensive effort were back-rowers Max Kearney and Ruadhan Byron as well as lock Oran O'Brien - and all three were included in the Irish Independent's Leinster Schools XV 2017, sponsored by Bank of Ireland.

While the hard work was done by the forwards on St Patrick's Day at the RDS, the guile of out-half David Hawkshaw and the clever lines of running from full-back Hugh O'Sullivan caused plenty of problems for a Blackrock team who themselves were littered with outstanding talents.

In scrum-half Patrick Patterson, 'Rock had one of the best players in this year's Cup but not even his ingenuity could unlock the stubborn defence.

Tom Roche excelled from full-back as did David Heavey on the wing. Stephen McLoughlin's lineout throwing was key, while Andrew Murphy was a colossus in the engine-room.

It was another Cup that highlighted the riches that Leinster once again have coming through the schools system, and all 15 players who were carefully selected have a fine chance of making it in the professional game.

The drama right to the end typified the exciting nature and it all began when St Fintan's High School very nearly upset Clongowes in the opening round.

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Fintan's were a joy to watch and led by their powerful tighthead Jack Aungier, the school will hope that this year's progress will be the start of something special.

Clongowes recovered well and advanced all the way to the semi-final before being over turned by the eventual winners. Ben O'Shea's accurate goal-kicking was crucial while Sean McCrohan was a wrecking ball from No 8.

Everywhere you looked this year, there were fascinating sub-plots, not least Gonzaga's march to their first semi-final appearance.

In any other year, their scrum-half James Kenny would have been the holder of the No 9 jersey in this year's team of the tournament but he was selected on the wing, purely because his excellent displays were too good to ignore.

St Mary's College enjoyed a fine start to the campaign when they got the better of Newbridge but they fell just short against Clongowes.

Mary's scrum was strong and with Niall McEniff showing why he is a highly rated loosehead, they were unlucky to come up against a Clongowes side still reeling after almost being stunned by Fintan's.

The likes of Garry Ringrose and Joey Carbery have shown in recent years how quickly the transition can be made from schools rugby to the international stage.

Each player selected in this year's team of the tournament will have similar ambitions and judging from the talent on show, there will be some who will indeed follow the same path.

Irish Independent

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