Saturday 16 December 2017

Seventh heaven as 'the Jes' dominate Dream Team

Connacht head coach Pat Lam. Photo: Sportsfile
Connacht head coach Pat Lam. Photo: Sportsfile

Daragh Small

It was another fantastic season of Connacht Schools Cup rugby, as the sport continues to grow in the province, and more and more youngsters look for a career in the game.

And last weekend the Connacht Schools Top XV were presented with specially commissioned jerseys at half-time in Connacht's Guinness Pro12 game against Scarlets at the Sportsground, as Pat Lam took charge for his last regular-season home game.

The Connacht Schools Top XV is effectively a dream team consisting of players from this year's Connacht Schools Senior Cup where reigning champions Colaiste Iognaid (the Jes) beat Summerhill in another thrilling final at the Sportsground.

The Jes have been the dominant force in senior cup rugby in recent years, and having beaten Garbally 16-15 in the senior decider last season, they backed that up with their 14th title, a 13-7 success on March 15.

Experienced tighthead prop Gary Keane dotted down the only try for the winners, and he was one of seven representatives from his school in the Connacht Schools Top XV.

Out-half Diarmuid Codyre looks set to follow in his brother Morgan', footsteps and head into the Connacht ranks. He is another brilliant talent and he scored two penalties and a conversion in the final.

The Jes were brilliant from open play, and their great expansive style meant that full-back Adam Cunningham, winger Cillian McCabe and centre Tomas Forde were also selected in the dream team.

Elsewhere top try-scorer Ross Hickey was the outstanding talent for beaten finalists Summerhill throughout their campaign. He stands at inside-centre and his sheer physicality means he could have a big future in the game.

Sligo Grammar's Graham Kerr slotted in on the left wing in the team of the year, while Garbally's sole representative was scrum-half Colm Reilly.

Grammar, who reached the semi-finals, have two players in the Top XV, with Jakub Wojtkowicz at loosehead prop, their other star performer.

He props down alongside Conall Fallon, hooker from the Jes' triumphant campaign, his second time winning that competition.

In the engine room is the versatile Jes lock Aaron Mannion, who seems to have a big future in the game also, and he is partnered by Marist's Fergus Galvin.

Summerhill have two representatives in the back row with Sean Wynne in at blindside. Marist's Mathius O'Neill is openside, while Summerhill No 8 Adrian Cummins completes the dream team.

Connacht Schools Top XV: A Cunningham (the Jes); C McCabe (the Jes), T Forde (the Jes), R Hickey (Summerhill), G Kerr (Sligo Grammar); D Codyre (the Jes), C Reilly (Garbally); J Wojtkowicz (Sligo Grammar), C Fallon (the Jes), G Keane (the Jes); A Mannion (the Jes), F Galvin (Marist); S Wynne (Summerhill), M O'Neill (Marist), A Cummins (Summerhill).

Irish Independent

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