Wednesday 25 April 2018

Dynamic Marsh leads ’Knock a merry dance


Tony Ward

Tony Ward

IF Ireland were caught in the eye of a storm in Paris on Saturday, it was like nothing compared to what hit poor Castleknock at Donnybrook yesterday

In advancing to the final four of this year's competition St Michael's, the 2007 winners, produced a veritable masterclass of top-quality rugby.

By any standard this six-try extravaganza was impressive, but as a message of intent to the other three still in pursuit of the senior prize, it was awesome in the extreme.

Make no mistake, the class of 2010 is the real deal and slicker both individually and collectively than the breakthrough unit of '07.

It is a side littered with stars, yet one in which the sum of the individual parts adds up to something quite spectacular. From loose-head Karl Duffy to classy full-back Cormac Diamond, there isn't a readily identifiable weakness.

Every single player contributed – including all seven sprung from the bench – but on this impressive occasion the shining star was wearing No 10.

Cathal Marsh – remember the name. Yesterday he ran gallant 'Knock ragged with his mazy lines, dancing feet, sympathetic hands and blistering pace.

No 8 Joe O'Brien and skipper Ross Jones gave it their all in response but in truth, such was Michael's quality that an exceptional 'Knock team was made to look very ordinary indeed. It took less than two minutes to set the scoreboard ticking when, following an Emmet McMahon take out of touch, Marsh and the equally dangerous Alex Kelly performed a simple switch for the latter to break through under the posts.

Marsh converted and for 'Knock what was to prove the consummate cup nightmare was already under way. They responded encouragingly with Jones striking a sweet penalty on 23 minutes in response to a similar Marsh effort just six minutes before.

At 10-3 and with almost half an hour gone it was still game on, but within four minutes of the interval following a multi-phased attack, Marsh skated through under the posts before adding the extras.

No sooner had the game restarted than all-action flanker Christopher Kenna, Marsh, Kelly and Diamond combined for the full-back to race in.


At 22-3 it was all over bar the shouting and when Marsh for the umpteenth time sliced the 'Knock defence apart, his Bastareaud-like one-handed offload set Mark Corballis on his way.

Marsh added the touchline conversion and operation damage limitation was very much the call. But two further tries followed with flanker Dan Leavy and full-back Diamond each providing the final touch.

Ben Butler converted one for a final scoreline every bit as chilling as his team's performance.

ST MICHAEL'S – C Diamond; M Corballis, A Kelly (C Gilsenan 66), M Craig, D Egan; C Marsh (B Butler 59), L McGrath (K Jones 50); K Duffy, F Barry (A Murphy 63), D Reynolds (W Browne 66); S O'Connor (S Hogan 59), E McMahon (Capt); D Leavy, C Kenna (S McGarry 45), P Dix.

CASTLEKNOCK – C Toolan (F Toolan 25); M Mellet, M O'Sullivan, T Farrell, S Lacey (R Hickey 63); R Jones (Capt), P Byrne (R Gleeson 43); A Noonan (M Briody 35), P Reilly, B O'Malley; M Webb, L Briody (N Cullen 35); C O'Riordan (S Condon 63), T Austin, J O'Brien (S Scott 55).

REF – Alan Rogan (ARLB).

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