Monday 18 November 2019

Coghlan drives mighty Clongowes into decider

Clongowes Wood 34 St Michael's 20
Leinster schools senior cup s-F

Tony Ward

Tony Ward

It was flagged from afar as the 'head- to-head' of the competition, and it sure didn't disappoint.

To Clongowes the spoils and that precious place in the RDS final on St Patrick's Day, but to St Michael's no 'gallant losers' guff, just acknowledgement of a quality performance, one of which they can be justifiably proud.

This is a top-class Clongowes outfit, right up there alongside Des Dillon's all-conquering side of '98.

Yesterday, in a full-blooded, no-holds-barred contest they were tested to the limit. They passed every test. The individuals are good but the collective is exceptional.

Despite trailing at critical times they never panicked, a sure indication of a side heavy on confidence.

While one is loth to single out any individual such was the all-round tour de force of Jordan Coghlan that it would be wrong not to highlight his hugely influential part. The Clongowes No 8 was exceptional.

Where he went so many others followed. And they needed to, such was the depth of the St Michael's effort. Against most any other opposition, it would have been enough to see St Michael's home.

They had big performers throughout the side, with Dan Leavy, Luke McGrath, Rory O'Loughlin and Cameron Diamond the picks of the crop.

Despite going behind to a well-struck penalty from Conor Mahony in the 10th minute, they bounced back courtesy of a Diamond try.

St Michael's sensible tactics meant keeping the ball away from the fringe and close exchanges, where Clongowes were unquestionably stronger.

But power is the operative word and, after pummelling close to the opposition line for five minutes, Clongowes out-half David Quirke eventually stepped over, Mahony converting for a 10-5 lead.

Within minutes Michael's were in front again, Leavy, Donagh Lawlor, Christian Daly and Diamond combining for the latter to cross for his and his side's well deserved second try.

McGrath converted and at 12-10 the Ailesbury Road school were in the ascendancy, leading at the break.

Immediately on the restart a thumping tackle from Leavy earned the opportunity for McGrath to stretch the lead. The Ireland Schools scrum-half duly delivered.

But just as they had done in the first half, Clongowes upped the tempo, piled on the pressure and courtesy of the outstanding Coghlan -- fed by Conor McQuaid -- crossed for try number two.

At 15-15 the next score was vital, and after McGrath had shaved the upright with a difficult kick from the touchline, the main Clane assault began.

In the 53rd minute Conor Joyce and Jamie Glynn combined for the latter to touch down close to the posts, Mahony again stepping up to convert.

Three minutes later and it was all over bar the shouting when, from a turnover on their own '22', McQuaid and Coghlan combined for another Coghlan touchdown. Mahony added the extras.

Full-back Harry Burns put his name on the try-scorers' list following an incisive Glynn break.

At 34-15 they were home and dry, leaving the last word to Mark Corballis following a clever Diamond cut-out pass.

St Michael's had given it their all and still they came a distant second. Heaven help whoever it is next up against Clongowes.

Clongowes -- H Burns; G Murray, J Glynn, C Joyce, C Mahony (S Fromm 61); D Quirke, C McQuaid (M McFarland); G Freyne, B Byrne, E Byrne (T Collis 68); B Phelan (P Timmins 49), T Byrne; N McCarthy (D Kennedy 29), C Gilsenan (capt), J Coghlan.

St Michael's -- C Diamond; M Corballis, R O'Loughlin, R Kavanagh, C Kelleher; B Holland (R Byrne 62), L McGrath (capt) (B Butler 62); A Barr (T O'Connell 35), J Headon, J Lawless; M O'Neill, D Lawlor; D Leavy, A Murphy, C Daly.

Ref -- A Rogan (Leinster Rugby Referees).

Irish Independent

The Left Wing: Champions Cup preview, the World Cup hangover and Joe Schmidt's next team

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport