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Rugby: Wood have backline to fell Mary's

It seems like a lifetime ago that a 16-year-old whipper-snapper, Jonathan Sexton, arrowed over a drop goal to give St Mary's their last Leinster Senior Cup. It was 2002.

St Mary's coach Rodney O'Donnell is "hoping to be there or thereabouts" in his selection, given the fact he has doubts about his two best forwards.

You would have to think the loss of Leinster interpros in number eight Mark Fallon (stinger) and lock Liam Curran (head) would be too big a blow to overcome in what is already a difficult one to call.

"We will leave it right up until the last minute to make a decision about them. We're not anticipating losing both of them," said O'Donnell.

The former British & Irish Lions full-back is under no illusions as to the size of the task that is present for the semi-final showdown against Clongowes Wood on Sunday afternoon at Donnybrook.

"A lot of the Clongowes lads have Junior Cup medals. They seem to be an all-round outfit. They have to be the favourites. We will have to take each and every opportunity as they come along."


This is one aspect of St Mary's game that has been white hot. Captain Maurice Walsh has five tries -- including four against Newpark in the first round -- in two matches, and left wing Eoin Moriarty is capable of causing problems to any defence.

Clongowes coach Noel Murray was keeping his cards close to his chest. There are no injury worries in a side that will be similar to or the same as that which shredded Kilkenny 37-12 in the quarter-final.

"Like every team in it, you want to have threats in all positions everywhere, forwards, backs, and keep the opposition guessing," said Murray, in relation to their style of play.

Surely, the Clane school will look to bring their exciting Ireland U18 Schools wing Stephen MacAuley into the game wherever and whenever they can in the wider channels.

"Every team has their full-back as a strike runner," added Murray. "You would hope from the ten (David Quirke) out, even the nine (Dermot O'Meara) with his sniping runs, that they will all be dangerous.

"I wouldn't single him (MacAuley) out. I know the opposition might. Sure if they do, they might neglect other players and we might use them."

The half-back combination of O'Meara and Quirke will be crucial to how Clongowes manage the game.

To make this task easier, the pack will have to win good, quick ball for them.

Clongowes Wood v St Mary's Sunday, Donnybrook 3.0

Verdict: Clongowes Wood