Lillis delights in Roscrea's 'unbelievable' success story
CC Roscrea 18
St Gerard's 14
Leinster Schools Senior Cup S/f
If not quite a romp to the finish line, Cistercian College Roscrea showed enough endeavour throughout the 70 minutes at Donnybrook yesterday to prove they're well worth their place in the final on St Patrick's Day.
After making the most of being in perhaps a weaker side of the draw in overcoming both Castleknock and Terenure, Roscrea again headed into a game as underdogs.
With a mere 200 students, CC's competitive assault on this year's competition is totemic and within two minutes they had put their first dent on the scoreboard when fly-half Bill Duggan cracked over a three-pointer from 30 metres.
They kicked on from there and four minutes later, after a sweeping move across the park involving Gareth Gallagher, Shane Layden and Rory Moloney, Alex Henderson's grubber put the Gerard's defence on the back foot and they failed to deal with it.
Eventually, Cormac Brennan stole in for the game's first touchdown.
On 16 minutes, Shane Layden made for the corner for Roscrea's second try after Conor Finn had found him with a slick feed.
Duggan had missed both try conversions from tricky angles, but it wasn't to matter as Roscrea stormed to an 18-3 lead on the half-hour mark thanks to another well-worked try.
After they burrowed forward with a maul, full-back Philip O'Dwyer eventually crossed the line after Duggan had released him with an neat pass on the openside.
Steve Crosbie tapped over a penalty from under the posts just before the break and, trailing at 18-6 at the break, the Bray boys had it all to do.
They dug in, and with Roscrea happy to defend their lead rather chase extra points, St Gerard's put up something of a dogfight in the second half.
Crosbie snatched back three points from a 38th-minute penalty, but the captain, who led his side with a magnificent all-round performance, was guilty of missing three straightforward kicks and it let Cistercian off the hook after some silly indiscretions. Dylan Simmonds crossed over in the 50th minute and thereafter Roscrea defended as if their lives depended on it to hold out.
"You have no idea what this means for the school," said Cistercian's manager John Lillis afterwards.
"It's probably one of the best advertisements we could have because our pupils are so small in numbers. This is unbelievable, it really is unbelievable."
St Gerard's -- D Simmonds; C Shiel, J Desmond, R Martin, S Smith; S Crosbie, C O'Rourke; S King, R O'Brien, O O'Neill; H Wojnar, J Prendergast; S Hackett-Delaney (J Roberts 70), D Symes, J Conan.
CC Roscrea -- P O'Dwyer; C Brennan (M Fitzgerald 64), S Layden, C Finn, M Mellotte; B Duggan, G Gallagher; G Fallon, D O'Dwyer, C Farrell (O Heffernan 53); A McGrath, R Moloney; A Henderson, E Quirke (R Maloney 50), C Moloney.
Ref -- J Carvill (LRF).