Hawkshaw swoops late to seal deal for Belvedere
Belvedere College 29-18 St Michael's College
A two-try blast in the opening quarter from full-back Hugh O'Sullivan and left wing Jordan Wilkes gave Belvedere control they never really lost in this Leinster Senior Cup quarter-final at Donnybrook yesterday.
The champions came into this with a question mark over their ability to win enough ball against the bigger, much taller St Michael's pack.
The near freezing wind-chill factor was worsened by rain to make handling a liability. St Michael's were slow to adapt their game-plan, refusing to narrow their focus.
Initially, their out-half Harry Byrne gave them encouragement from a seventh-minute penalty.
The knack of the holders for striking from unlikely positions was evident in how O'Sullivan burst clear when not held in the tackle to also convert in the 15th minute. Then, David Hawkshaw's grubber was deftly collected by Wilkes for 12-3 in the 19th minute.
St Michael's looked to play off their impressive lineout and Byrne kicked three to reduce the difference to three in the 29th minute.
The champions' captain Max Kearney was simply sensational on the ground against the more upright work of Michael's superb locks Jack Dunne and Ryan Baird.
The patience of the holders was the key to creating the opening for No 8 Ruadhan Byron to surge to the posts for O'Sullivan to turn five points into seven for a 19-6 lead in the 40th minute.
This is when the to-and-fro nature of the contest took off.
St Michael's hooker Stephen Judge was held up over the line before Dunne powered through for Byrne to add two on top.
It got even better for them when flanker Conor Doran was binned for a late hit.
This was when Kearney stepped in for a wonder steal at the breakdown to trigger three points from O'Sullivan.
Back came the boys in blue for Byrne's smart kick to be grounded by replacement right wing Rob Russell to squeeze the game to 22-18 in the 61st minute.
It was all back on, although the northsiders weren't under pressure to chase a lead.
When St Michael's scrum-half Peter O'Beirne was pressed for time, Hawkshaw came hard and fast to pick off his pass and sprint away for the insurance try which was converted by O'Sullivan.
Belvedere - H O'Sullivan; M Donnelly, P Maher, C Walsh, J Wilkes; D Hawkshaw, P Cagney; C Molloy, S Osborne (C Byrne 52), J Robinson, G Murray, O O'Brien, M Kearney (capt), C Doran, R Byron.
St Michael's - I O'Kelly; J O'Loughlin (R Russell 56), M Corcoran, D Ryan, C Carey; H Byrne, P O'Beirne; C Hennessy, S Judge, L Duffy (A Deegan 40), R Baird, J Dunne (capt), M Roche (J Booth 43), S Penny, D O'Donovan.
Ref - H O'Reilly (Leinster Branch)