Wednesday 13 November 2019

Belvo survive late Clongowes blitz in classic to reach final

Clongowes 26 Belvedere 27

James Lappin, Clongowes Wood College, is tackled by Declan Monaghan, Belvedere College
James Lappin, Clongowes Wood College, is tackled by Declan Monaghan, Belvedere College
Oscair McGrath, Belvedere College, is tackled by Michael McDermott, Clongowes Wood College
Belvedere College players, right to left, Conor Jennings, James Kenny, Dan McCaffrey, Senan McNulty and Brian Egan sing their school song after the win
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

They very nearly threw it away, but Belvedere College just about survived a remarkable Clongowes Wood College comeback in the Leinster Senior Cup semi-final at Donnybrook.

With 53 minutes on the clock, Belvo, who were in complete control and threatening to run riot, led 27-5 but few would have predicted what transpired in the closing stages.

Belvo haven't lifted the cup since 2008 and haven't reached a final since then, but they will never get a better chance to end that drought.

The Dublin school dominated the first half and went into the break 15-0 in front after an error-strewn Clongowes performance.

Oscair McGrath ensured that Belvo's early pressure counted when he crossed for a try in the corner after eight minutes.

Conor Jennings brilliantly kicked the touchline conversion before capitalising on a defensive error by Michael Silvester to score a try of his own.

Belvo had several chances to punish Clongowes even further but they had to settle for just one other Jennings penalty before half time.

When Eoin Cleere finished off a sweeping team move eight minutes after the restart it looked like curtains for Clongowes, but Donal Mongey gave his side a glimmer of hope with a try.

Belvo responded immediately and substitute Dan McCaffrey's converted try made it 27-5 to put his side on the brink of the final.

McCaffrey, however, was sent to the sin bin shortly after and Clongowes took full advantage with three tries in a blistering seven minute spell.

Rowan Osborne spotted a gap in the defence and darted over the whitewash and while Fionann Madden added the extras, time was very much against his side.

Three minutes later captain John Molony burrowed his way over from close range and suddenly the Kildare crowd were in full voice and the players believed that the seemingly impossible was on.

Madden again converted and did the same after James Lappin intercepted a wayward pass to score from 70m. The comeback was well and truly on now.

With five minutes left, Clongowes pushed for that crucial score but Molony's sin- binning put an end to their hopes as Belvo held on for a dramatic victory.

Clongowes Wood - M Silvester; F Madden, J Lappin, M McDermott, C Murray; J Glynn (T Monaghan 54), R Osborne; N Rinklin, J Molony (c), C Carroll (E Carroll 45); T Burke (J Moore 45), D O'Mahoney; W Connors, D Mongey (P Nulty 65), S McCrohan.

Belvedere College - E Cleere; S Long, J McKeown, D Murnaghan, O McGrath; C Jennings, H O'Sullivan (G O'Kelly 66); M Sweeney, A Hynes (D McCaffrey 42), E Molloy (J Clarke 61); C McCaffrey (J Kenny 58), B Egan; S McNulty, M Kearney (F Dillon-Kelly 58), T De Jongh.

REF: N Correll (Leinster Branch)

Irish Independent

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