Sunday 27 May 2018

Rock solid foundations the basis for dream team

Leinster Schools XV

The Irish Independent schools team of the tournament receive their jerseys from Leinster schools chairman Conor Montayne, director of Bank of Ireland Dublin Colin Kingston and the Irish Independent’s Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
The Irish Independent schools team of the tournament receive their jerseys from Leinster schools chairman Conor Montayne, director of Bank of Ireland Dublin Colin Kingston and the Irish Independent’s Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Belvedere’s David Lacey with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Blackrock’s Liam McMahon with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Blackrock’s Liam Turner with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Belvedere’s Matthew Grogan with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
St Mary’s Eoin Carey with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Blackrock’s James Tarrant with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
St Gerard’s Cormac Foley with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Roscrea’s Michael Milne with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
St Michael’s Scott Penny with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Belvedere’s James Gleeson with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Newbridge’s Cian Prendergast with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
St Gerard’s Ethan Baxter with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Blackrock’s Sean Molony with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
St Michael’s Ryan Baird with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Blackrock’s Michael McGagh with Colin Kingston and Tony Ward. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Des Berry

Blackrock's 69th Leinster Schools Senior Cup was driven by a 'rock hard spine, led by Liam Turner.

The outside centre with the low centre of gravity got better as the challenges became stiffer.

It was not unusual to see the captain burst between defenders in a manner to suggest he just would not be denied.

Liam McMahon was what you would call their 'finisher,' striking for two tries both the semi-final and final.

The understated skills of out-half James Tarrant provided the link between forwards and backs.

He was also their main kicker, although coach Justin Vanstone tended to spread that responsibility.

Hooker Sean Molony was dedicated to the basics of the position as an accurate thrower, strong scrummager and a powerful presence in the maul.

Natural flanker Michael McGagh was Blackrock's standout forward for the all-round impact he made in all facets of forward play.

Full-back David Lacey confirmed his reputation as the trigger for Belvedere's unbelievable comeback against St Michael's in the semi-final.

Their centre Matthew Grogan looked like a sound decision-maker on the ball, making those around him look better. The losing finalists could not quite match Blackrock for power up front in the final. Their loose-head James Gleeson was one to generally meet contact on his terms.

St Mary's had the most electrifying back three in the Cup, left wing Eoin Carey meriting inclusion for his elegant running game.

Ryan Baird is another second row from St Michael's on course for the Leinster Academy.

The speed in the open is as impressive as his lineout work and propensity to make big physical plays.

Flanker Scott Penny's tackle count, magnetism to the ball on the floor and non-stop work rate made him a nightmare match-up.

It would have been a sight to see Penny and Ethan Baxter go shoulder-to-shoulder over the ball. The captain was vital to St Gerard's coming within two points of disposing of Blackrock in the quarter-final.

Centre Cormac Foley, the Ireland schools scrum-half, was a real game changer with his tenacious tackling and eye for a gap.

The Ireland U19 tight-head Michael Milne captained Roscrea as far as the quarter-final, but no further.

His points of difference are the soft hands that make his offloading game perfect for the professional game.

There is just a hard edge to what Newbridge and Leinster Schools captain Cian Prendergast does. He is another athletic second row who was able to offset his disadvantage in size with intelligent decisions.

Irish Independent

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