Godfrey kick-starts defence for dogged Blackrock outfit
Blackrock Col 20
Belvedere Col 13
If anyone doubts the pedigree of reigning champions Blackrock to go the whole way and repeat last year's Leinster Schools Senior Cup success, well think again.
That was the message sent out loud and clear as the holders made their way through to the next round at the expense of Belvedere in a hugely-competitive first-round encounter at Donnybrook yesterday.
It wasn't by any means the perfect performance but as a first-up winning effort, it was pretty impressive. There's still work to be done, but given it's a totally revamped Williamstown side from last year's cup final line-up, there's enough to suggest a unity of purpose that's going to take some beating.
The game was delayed by almost 15 minutes to allow the big crowd safe entry but once the match got under way, it was Belvedere which were the quickest out of the blocks.
A Barry McGuinness surge appeared to have given Blackrock healthy field position but from a quick, if unexpected, turnover Belvo scrum-half David Shanahan made maximum use of possession to ignite a four to two overlap on the counter and send Mark Kavanagh racing clear up the right. He ran unopposed to the Blackrock line for the opening score and with just four minutes on the clock.
Within another four minutes, David Godfrey had narrowed the gap to two with a successful penalty following good approach work from lock Sam Cooke. On 13 minutes, centre James Hart restored the lead to five by way of a simple penalty following obstruction off the ball. Two poorly handled re-starts allied to three successive kick block-downs and Rock appeared to be digging a mighty hole for themselves.
But within three minutes, the game was turned on its head. Caolann Fitzpatrick took a short ball from Godfrey before swerving passed Michael Oyuga and then sidestepping Cian Kennedy for the most brilliantly executed individual try. Godfrey added the extras and no sooner had the game re-started, an attempted clearance from Shanahan was charged down for rampaging Rock No 8 Richard Marsh to gather.
He took off like an express train from fully 50 metres and grounded under the posts and Godfrey added the extras. At 17-8, and with just 30 minutes gone, Belvo were on the rack. Their fate was almost sealed just after the break when Rock flanker Pierce Dargan, in following up a miscued Godfrey kick at goal, appeared to have made the touchdown but referee John Carvill ruled otherwise.
Belvo needed to score next -- and they did, and what a try. I doubt Donal Murray will ever produce a more miraculous, mazy run however long he plays. Full-back Kennedy's quick hands sent the speedy wing sprinting up the left, but apparently out of space into a wall of Blackrock defenders.
With pace, verve and astonishing determination he emerged from a sea of bodies for the most extraordinary try. It matched Fitzpatrick's first-half effort for its individual quality.
But the last say went to Rock and to skipper Godfrey when sealing the deal by way of a second successful penalty. It came on the hour and completed the scoring with victory and a place in the last eight going where it was deserved.
But true to tradition, Belvo had asked all the right questions but more significantly for Rock and for coach Peter Smyth, his charges had come up with all the relevant answers. Room for improvement yes, but on this early showing they are going to take some beating.
Blackrock -- B McGuinness; M Roche, C Fitzpatrick, C McEllin, J O'Sullivan; D Godfrey (Capt), M Walsh; S Wijntjes, P Carroll, T Moran; S Cooke, J Kelly; P Dargan, C Sheehan, R Marsh (D Walsh 57).
Belvedere -- C Kennedy; M Kavanagh, F McManus, J Harte, D Murray; J Fitzgerald (J McHugh 40), D Shanahan; C Duffy, C Walsh, S Lynch; D van Buren (D Lynch 50), P Farrelly-Pendred; J Conroy (A Slein 50), N O'Flynn, M Oyuga (Capt). Yellow card: Marsh (Blackrock) 47.
Ref -- J Carvill (Leinster Branch).