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Clongowes await hearing decision on key man Conor

It goes without saying that Clongowes Wood's epic 10-9 edging out of St Mary's in the first Senior Cup semi-final on Sunday was tainted by the sending-off of number eight Conor Gilsenan.

It leaves Clongowes and Gilsenan in a state of limbo as they await their judgement day. In fact, the disciplinary hearing is fixed for this evening. It will decide whether or not the Leinster Schools forward will be able to play his part in the final on St Patrick's Day.

"We'll have to wait for the disciplinary hearing," said coach Noel Murray. "We think it will be on Thursday, but we are waiting for confirmation on that. We are waiting and wondering because we are not used to being in this position."

On the advice of his touch judge, referee Brian McNeice showed Gilsenan a straight red-card for what was described as "contact with the eye". It is a serious matter which Clongowes are determined to contest.

"Conor has protested his innocence. He is genuine. We will back him up here. He has never been sent off before in his life at Gaelic (football, with his club, Mullingar Shamrocks) or rugby. It is out of character," said Murray.


"Conor is the main concern. You have to take care of the kid. It was a big game live on TV (Setanta Sports) with big media coverage the next day. We have to wait for the referee's report to see what his exact words were on the incident before we take the next step in the process."

In terms of the match, Clongowes had to deal with a serious test as Rodney O'Donnell's highly motivated St Mary's delivered. It was a monumental effort from the Rathmines boys.

"St Mary's really stepped it up physically from what we saw of their game against Roscrea in the quarter-final at Lakelands.

"Their forward pack really stood up to us and their backs made two or three breaks around us and outside of us. They were very dangerous.

"The two tries obviously made the difference. Look at Ireland -- three tries to one -- it was the same thing. We made it hard on ourselves. But, we came through in the end," said Murray.

Somehow, there is a strong sense that the achievement of breaching the semi-final in search of their first title since the millennium final has been tarnished.

"When you win a semi-final, you like to celebrate. The sending-off took away from it from our point of view. We felt for Conor. Even if he plays in the final, this incident has ruined the semi-final for us. Either way, we have to get on with it and start preparing for the final."