Dixon converts to secure replay
Blackrock 7 St Michael's 7
On balance, a draw was probably just about right although St Michael's, despite playing into the second-half gale, left the vile conditions at Donnybrook with more regrets.
There was a contrast in styles, with Blackrock executing their most effective driving maul time and again in that opening period.
Michael's can maul too but they chose to pick and drive in the second half against the strong wind to equally telling effect. 'Rock's protection of possession in that first half was near perfection given the difficult handling conditions in contact.
Tighthead Scott Barron and lock Mark Morrissey were again the most conspicuous in broken play, while Adam Dixon, having switched from centre to out-half, had a massive game in every way. Michael Lowey too got through some tremendous defensive work in trying circumstances for a wing.
For Michael's one player stood head and shoulders above every other on this massive occasion and that was No 8 Jack Boyle. Almost like a magnet wherever the ball appeared somehow it was Boyle on the end of it. Remember the name because, like Chris Cosgrave in the centre, here for sure is another emerging talent.
Jack Guinane too again caught the eye while Oscar Hurley performed minor miracles in competing with the excellent 'Rock combination of Morrissey and skipper Hugh O'Malley out of touch. Lee Barron, so crucial to the Michael's free-running game, got little opportunity to open up the tight 'Rock defence.
The opening score came in the ninth minute when following a Niall Carroll/Zach Harrison combination up the left to within metres of the 'Rock line, Boyle and Guinane had individual sorties before the game's outstanding player crossed under the posts. Cosgrave converted and Michael's had a seven-point lead to protect going into the second half.
However, just five minutes in and it was wiped away following a kick to the corner by the impressive Dixon. Morrissey gathered out of touch with Dixon setting up the ruck under the Michael's posts before slick handling by Ben Brownlee, and Shane Murray allowed Lowey to race in at the corner for Dixon, with the most amazing conversion close to the crossbar, to tie it all up.
At 7-7, the momentum was with 'Rock but from then to the end it was the Michael's pack dominating possession and territory. They had one opportunity when Cosgrave attempted a snap drop goal with about seven to go but again the 'Rock defence was courageous to a fault.
So these great rivals live to fight another day and what a day that should be.
Blackrock - S Murray; J Campbell, S Small, B Brownlee (P McGowan 47), M Lowey; A Dixon, M Cullen; B Melly-Murphy, C O'Carroll, S Barron (H Cullen 57), M Morrissey (J Byrne 50), H O'Malley (capt), A Simpson (M Wood 10), J Culhane, L Heylin.
St Michael's - AE Kelly; S O'Kelly (S O'Shea 54), C Cosgrave, TGilsenan, Z Harrison; N Carroll, J Woods; L Barron, C Booth, J Power, S Woods, J Guinane, O Hurley, W Hickey (capt), J Boyle.
Ref - B McNeice (ARLB)