CLONGOWES WOOD 34, CASTLEKNOCK COLLEGE 8
Just when it looked like Castleknock would put it right up to the champions, Clongowes Wood slipped into overdrive to carve out a five-try victory in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup quarter-final at Donnybrook on Tuesday.
The underdogs took one big bite out of Clongowes when David Sweeney and Shane Carroll rocked ball carriers for their attack to get an early chance to travel wide.
Right wing Michael Mellett beat the first man up and number eight Paul Nalty was there to bring play deep inside the 22. The infringement came. Fly-half Robert Troy struck from the right for the lead in the fourth minute.
They held their line right up to the 25th minute. The problem for Castleknock was that the holders were beginning to dominate the ball and territory. The scrum was a powerful weapon, twice shoving 'Knock off the ball and forcing a penalty.
'Knock scrum-half Darragh Henry saved the day only for hooker Bryan Byrne to beat two tacklers from the following lineout to ground the ball on the whitewash. Mahony's conversion off the left upright put Clongowes 7-3 in the 27th minute.
The Dublin northsiders were on the verge of striking back immediately. When the execution wavered, Clongowes gobbled up the ball and the ground in a bewildering counter for full-back Max McFarland to speed home. Mahony converted for 14-3 on the half-hour.
Robert Troy's long kick deflected off Clongowes lock Jack Paul to give 'Knock a fortuitous five-metre scrum. It came to nothing because they simply could not get workable ball from a distressed scrum.
In contrast, hooker Bryan Byrne was on hand to clamp down on the ball to force a penalty. Mahony kicked three to make it 17-3 on the stroke of the half-time.
From the restart, captain Tom Farrell pilfered the ball from prop Daniel O'Byrne. Troy was not able to figure out the unpredictable wind with the shot at goal. The champions' clinical nature came to the fore again when the Byrne twins, Edward and Bryan, used their superb skills in contact to clear a path for openside Stephen Keelan's try. Mahony kicked the extras.
The Clongowes front row was relentless in every aspect of the game. They turned over the ball at a scrum and it was whipped wide for McFarland to squeeze over for his second try.
Castleknock could not keep their concentration from incessant defending. Fast hands and quick thinking opened the way for left wing Niall Rhatigan to spear through for the fifth try in the 65th minute.
The losers got their consolation when flying full-back Eoghain Quinn simply took off down the left touchline for a quicksilver finish from halfway.
At Donnybrook - Clongowes Wood College 34 (M McFarland 2 tries; S Keelan, B Byrne, N Rhatigan try each; C Mahony pen, 3 cons) Castleknock College 8 (E Quinn try; R Troy pen).
Clongowes Wood: M McFarland; C Mahony, C O'Hanrahan, S Fromm, N Rhatigan; M Nicholson, C McQuaid; E Byrne (capt), B Byrne, D O'Byrne, J Paul, R Daly, J Wallace, S Keelan, P Timmins.
Replacements: G McVerry for Fromm (31 mins); S Mulholland for Timmins (40 mins); J Sullivan for Nicholson (63 mins); D Garty for E Byrne (68 mins); K Cowhey for Keelan, C O'Donoghue for Rhatigan, D Donnellan for B Byrne (all 69 mins).
Castleknock: E Quinn; M Mellett, T Farrell (capt), D Sweeney, S McEntaggart; R Troy, D Henry; M Bennett, D Perry, O McEvitt, E Murphy, A Mu'Azzam, S Carroll, J O'Neill, P Nalty. Replacements: J McCormack for McEntaggart (ht); E Hanlon for Troy (58 mins); K Scanlon for Perry, S Condon for Carroll (both 60 mins); J Burke for Henry (66 mins).
Referee: P Haycock, Leinster Branch.