MOUNT TEMPLE 28-20 ST MARY’S CBS
An epic battle in front of a sizable crowd ended with Mount Temple edging out St Mary's CBS Enniscorthy in the McMullen Cup final at Energia Stadium Donnybrook on Monday afternoon of last week.
The County Wexford school were going for their second victory in the tournament after taking the crown in 2014/15 and with a little more luck, the odd break here and there, they could have done it.
This was one of those games that, should the teams meet again, it would be another tight, tough battle. Both sides were committed from the first minute until the last and neither left anything out there on the field.
There was a distinct difference in the two halves. The first was a little more nervy as the sides settled in. It was also when both squads had the most gas in the tank and the tackling was ferocious but fair as both probed for holes.
Enniscorthy played a running game, looking to attack with their backs from all manner of positions. Mount Temple were a little happier to look for their moments and were intelligent in their use of possession.
The Wexford school had the better of the territorial game in the first half and almost completely dominated the first fifteen minutes. However, their opponents were so hungry for contact that their time to throw the ball around was minimal and Temple forces several turnovers deep in their own half.
Sometimes it was that last pass, more often that second to last pass that wasn't quite on the money and Mount Temple pounced every time. It was therefore a complete heartbreaker when the Malahide school took the lead with their first foray into the CBS twenty-two.
Finn O'Reilly was the instigator of the try, flying past a tackle to get the ball close to the tryline. Two phases later it was Dominick Damianov who touched down in the corner and Cuán Whelan added the extras with the first of several incredible kicks.
Enniscorthy went back on the offensive, they were scrummaging really well, pressuring Temple into mistakes. Their last move of the half bore fruit and it all started with an intelligent quickly taken Conal Kervick tap-kick.
Setting up residence in and around the Mount Temple twenty-two again, CBS moved the ball quickly from right to left, this time all the passes hit the mark with Stefan San Augustin, Kervick, Jack O'Hagan and Shane Kehoe all involved in setting up an excellent Miguel Byrne-Rodriguez try that Kervick converted to make it 7-7 at the interval.
Things continued in a similar vein early in the second half, Neil Foley was denied by a crunching tackle three yards from the line that forced a turnover as the boys on green and yellow pressed for the go-ahead score.
However, Temple were unbelievably efficient when they sniffed a chance. They almost got in through Alec Dawson ten minutes into the second half, strong Enniscorthy defence kept them out but only until Daminov broke the gain line, fed the mercurial Jamie Clowry and he touched down with Whelan again successful.
Enniscothy marched up the field and chose to kick the penalty in front of the posts to make it 14-10 with fifteen minutes left. However, as legs and bodies tired, Mount Temple broke right after kickoff, Clowry was involved again but it was Adam Daly who scored the try as his side went 21-10 up after Whelan added the extras.
To their credit Enniscorthy kept battling, back they came two minutes later and captain Conor Byrne sauntered up the left touchline, running thirty metres to score in the corner, while the conversion was missed, CBS remained within a score.
The attacking play was incredible at this stage and Temple went right back down the other end and Anthony Msrkov and Kevin Farrington combined for Clowry to get his second try, Ben Noobe Smyth converted to make it 28-15.
Refusing to lie down, with two minutes left on the clock Enniscorthy his back again when Cian Walsh powered his way through to touchdown, again the extras were missed leaving CBS eight down and time soon ran out on their gallant challenge.
Despite the loss, it has been an unbelievable decade of success for Wexford school in the McMullen Cup, as well as St Mary's, Wexford CBS, Gorey Community School and Good Counsel have all won the crown.
There is little doubt that this is down to the hard work of multiple people, from the clubs, to the schools to the development officers, all of whose hard work is now being reflected in the quality being produced on the field and in trophies.
MOUNT TEMPLE: Finn O'Reilly, Jamie Clowry, Cathal McMahon, Adam Daly, Charlie Danneels, Theo Connolly, Cuán Whelan; Mark Lawless, Aaron Fox, Ryan Dowling, Oscar Hunt Quinn, Harry Barham, Anthony Markov, Dominick Damianov, Kevin Farrington. Replacements (rolling) - Josh Moloney, Aaron McCullagh, Harry Binghan, Travis Reilly Wilson, Alec Dawson, Lee Noobe Smyth, Ben Noobe Smyth, Oisín Kennedy Smith.
ST MARY'S CBS: Shane Kehoe, Marcus McCarthy, Jack O'Hagan, James Doyle, Miguel Byrne-Rodriguez, Conal Kervick, Stefan San Augustin; Daniel Byrne, Conor Murphy, Cedric Aucher, Neil Foley, Conor Byrne (capt.), Mikey McVeigh, Aaron Doyle, Ora Lasisi. Replacements (rolling) - Cian Walsh, Ryan Collier, Marco Byrne, Gerard Kennedy, Joseph Akinyemi, Victory Onwubiko, Ronan Kervick, Christopher O'Leary.
REFEREE: Clive Wardorp