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Whittle on target to lift Gerard's

MARK Prendergast's schoolboy dream of scoring a hat-trick of tries in a Vinnie Murray Senior Cup final looked doomed to failure until replacement out-half Tommy Whittle landed a 68th-minute penalty at Templeville Road on Monday.




Full-back Prendergast had shown the wheels to get on the outside of the Gonzaga defence three times, albeit on the back of fine work inside him, in the 23rd, 46th and 60th minutes to put St Gerard's within two points of their target.

It was Whittle's introduction in the 43rd minute that put a little more shape on the St Gerard's attack due in part his well-honed kicking game.

Whittle, however, had the misfortune to face up to two conversions wide out on the right and watch them drift agonisingly wide of the uprights. But the winning points came closer in and he took them.

St Gerard's Gamesmaster Ken Jolly reflected on a titanic tussle: "It could have gone either way. Both teams really wanted it.

"We thought we had a good chance coming into it and I think Gonzaga had the same feeling.

"It is a long season. The next group coming through will start in a few weeks' time on development training and on through the summer doing weights.


"Then there will be a pre-season in August. There is a lot of work in it. We're a small school. We have 34 players at senior level. To reach a final is very rewarding. To win it is fantastic."

There had to be a degree of sympathy for Gonzaga. They played with spirit and no little creativity themselves to rebound from Prendergast's first try to hit back with tries either side of the break.

They came from scrum-half Nick Peters' snipe and wing Roddy Fitzpatrick's sharp finish from a burst by his No 8 Marco McVey.

Out-half Ross McKeever converted both for a 14-5 lead by the 38th minute and he also nailed a penalty from straight in front to keep 'Zaga 17-10 ahead with time slipping away.

It was then that Prendergast's third try put the issue in doubt and the attacking prowess of centre Con Callan found tangible reward in the right boot of Whittle.

SCORERS – St Gerard's School: M Prendergast 3 tries; T Whittle pen. Gonzaga College: N Peters, R Fitzpatrick try each; R McKeever pen, 2 cons.

St Gerard's: M Prendergast; M Gallagher, C Callan, P Kelly, A Lynch; A Symmonds, K McCarthy; N Byrne, J Ryan (capt), T Kenna; M Loughman, C Doyle; C Kenny, D Smyth, D King. Replacements: J Dooley for Doyle (29); R Toal-Lennon for McCarthy, T Whittle for Gallagher (both 43); J Maguire for Byrne, S O'Reilly for McKenna (both 62).

GONZAGA: B Goulding; J Daly, O O'Cleirigh, A Marks (capt), R Fitzpatrick; R McKeever, N Peters; E Byrne, G Rumley, R Barry; C Horan, T Mays; S Holly, F Ryan, M McVey. Replacements: D Coyle for Barry (4); F Keane for Coyle, R Layden for Mays (both 60).

Referee: C Dawson, Leinster Branch.