Patterson steers classy 'Rock into decider
Blackrock 34 Gonzaga 8
Gonzaga's dream of appearing in a first Leinster Schools Senior Cup final was crushed by a powerful Blackrock side who sent out a real statement of intent before their St Patrick's Day final meeting with Belvedere.
'Zaga, who have impressed throughout the Cup, came up against a hugely physical 'Rock pack who after withstanding a barrage of early pressure, eventually wore them down.
Led by their outstanding scrum-half Patrick Patterson, who benefited hugely from the platform set by his front five, 'Rock struck for the killer blow on the stroke of half-time, soon after Patterson returned from the sin bin.
Liam Turner, who had just come back from injury, picked a brilliant line off Patterson and the classy centre powered over the whitewash for a try that Peter O'Reilly converted. That left' Rock 17-3 in front and ultimately there was no way back for 'Zaga.
Momentum Turner was unfortunately forced off early in the second half but it didn't halt his side's momentum. Michael O'Kennedy had kicked 'Zaga into an early lead with a penalty after six minutes but 'Rock quickly responded.
John Fairley powered his way over after a strong carry from James Moriarty in midfield. O'Reilly added the extras and after he kicked a penalty, he was again on hand to convert Turner's try following a blistering turn of pace.
Turner's converted try was a body blow for 'Zaga and when full-back Tom Roche got over for the first of his two tries, eight minutes after the restart, the Ranelagh school's race was run.
Patterson was instrumental in Roche's try and was so again when his beautiful pass off a lineout was finished off by Ross Deegan. O'Reilly's extras put his side into a 29-3 lead.
David Lynch's 48th-minute try gave 'Zaga a glimmer of hope but that was soon extinguished when Roche got over his for his second after another sublime piece of play from Patterson.
Belvo await in the final but, on yesterday's evidence, they will have a tough job on their hands to stop 'Rock winning a 69th title.
Blackrock College - T Roche; T Maher, L Turner (R Deegan 38), J Moriarty, D Heavey (G Jones 64); P O'Reilly, P Patterson (R Fahy 59); G Coyne (C Delaney 59), S McLoughlin (S Molony 43), J Byrne (T Clarkson 38); J Fairley (M Carroll 64), A Murphy; M McGagh, A Francis (J Burke 59), C Reilly (capt).
Gonzaga College - D Lynch; H Twomey (E Ellen 61), B O'Donnell, E Barr (F McHugh 54) (J Connolly 63), S Galvin; M O'Kennedy, J Kenny; M Gleeson (M Meagher 52), C Gleeson (capt), S Clear; E Buggy, C Fassbender (C Goulding 54); I O'Grady (M Holly 67), M Keegan (J Veale 47), R Kidney (D Carson 64).
REF - H O'Reilly (Leinster Branch)