Roscrea heroes dominate inaugural Schools' Team of the Tournament
Back in January, the decision was made to select for the first time an Irish Independent Leinster Schools Senior Cup Team of the Tournament. The conversation went broadly along the following lines.
Editor: "So what do you think about a Team of the Tournament in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup?"
Yours truly: " Great idea. It could be an opportunity for individual recognition beyond those already in the representative loop."
Editor: "Good, let's run with it so."
Yours truly: "OK, but who's going to select this team?"
I think you can guess the rest. Anyway, here we are four months on, trophy ensconced in its new home in Roscrea and white smoke rising from the jury room.
Our objective was to pick the best players putting in the most influential performances in their respective Cup matches. Playing more than once was clearly an advantage and here, for example, Mark Fogarty of St Mary's lost out.
In almost inspiring the shock of the tournament when pushing pre-tournament favourites St Michael's to the wire in the opening round, Fogarty was inspirational.
The main criterion was getting the top performers into the best all-round team and I think we succeeded even if Dan Trayers and Tom de Jongh had to change positions ever so slightly.
The end product saw seven schools represented with newly installed champions Roscrea leading the way with five and a nice spread through every line of the team, bar half-back where the Belvedere combination of Conor Jennings and Hugh O'Sullivan were particularly impressive throughout.
Add in de Jongh and it makes for three of the XV from the Great Denmark Street School.
Sister Jesuit School and beaten semi-finalists (to Belvo') Clongowes supplied two in the guise of hooker John Molony and centre-cum-wing James Lappin.
As did the other beaten semi-finalist Newbridge College although, quite apart from lock Brian Larkin and centre Jimmy O'Brien, as many as five others from the League Champions were in the mix, with Robert Buckley probably the unluckiest of all not to make it.
Jake Howlett too was most conspicuous in a particularly potent midfield pairing with O'Brien.
What Newbridge lacked in size relative to say Michael's, Blackrock or Roscrea they more than compensated by way of high energy, cleverly tailored rugby though the hand. Had they taken either semi-final from Roscrea there would have been few complaints from the eventual champions.
Mike Joyce, Conor Johnson, Tom O'Neill and Colm Doyle were others to catch the eye. But in the end, when saving their most complete performance for the final, the Roscrea cream truly did come to the top. Apart from the five selected, tight head Dylan Murphy and lock Aaron Brown were others to press for a place. Dan Trayers, Tim Carroll, Matty Keane and Tim Foley cruised in on consistency while Liam Walsh, Carrigaline's finest shaded Nicholas Rinklin (Clongowes) for the loose head slot.
Michael's, Rock and CBC each supplied one representative in the shape of Max Deegan at No 8, Stephen Kilgallen on the wing and Eoghan Clarke an outstanding prospect at tight head. Both Clarke and scrum half O'Sullivan can boast first up selection on the first ever tournament team while still in Transition Year. Quite an achievement.
Others to make their mark at differing stage of the competition include scrum half Rob Jordan (CBC), hooker Andrew Hynes and free running centre James McKeown (both Belvo').
Scrum-half Derry O'Connor and flanker Faolan Crowe were very good for 'Mary's alongside Fogarty while lock James Ryan, openside Roghan McMahon, centres Kyle Dixon and Gavin Mullin all had their moments for Spiritan schools 'Michael's and 'Rock. McMahon in particular was closest the final frame.
Backrowers Sean McCrohan and Will Connors plus livewire scrum half Rowan Osborne shone for Clongowes while Johnny Guy was outstanding for St Andrews. There were so many others too but in the end the chosen xv represents the best on impact allied to consistency. It is what it set out to be the most impressive performers accommodated in the most complete team. Congrats to all.