Blackrock 50 Gonzaga 21
The power, pace and panache with which Blackrock captured their 70th Leinster Schools Senior Cup confirmed it as a special band of brothers at The RDS.
The fact they were able to reach the 50-point barrier with Conor O’Shaughnessy’s conversion of Mikey Yarr’s injury-time try is a measure of their quality.
For Gonzaga could have been recognised as worthy winners in many other years were it not their misfortune to come up against a machine that rolled out seven tries against three.
The boys in green even had the benefit of a superb opening try, Jody Browne and Hugo McLaughlin playing Rory Finlay in up the left for McLaughlin to convert.
The manner in which ‘Rock moved into overdrive was certainly impressive, their heavies taking over for Liam Molony to ground the maul from close range, Hugh Cooney sweeping through on a wonderful line and Ruben Moloney slipping the ball for Eoghan Walsh to score at his ease, Zach Quirke converting all three for 21-7 in the 18th minute.
The game could have been turned on its’ head when Blackrock captain Gus McCarthy was shown a yellow card that could easily have been another for a shoulder charge.
Gonzaga had the nous to turn the extra man into seven points from McLaughlin’s finish an conversion for 21-14 at the break.
There were no signs of the high-octane pace dropping, Gonzaga resisting consecutive breaks by Paddy McCarthy and Oliver Coffey, together with sustained pressure, led by Brigg, to force a knock-on near the line.
Just when ‘Zaga looked like getting out of jail, wing Andrew Quinn worked his magic from a beautifully designed move off a lineout.
Quirke added the conversion and the out-half was content to take a penalty from the next surge.
There was still enough opportunity for Gonzaga to construct a stunning try from a scrum, Hugh Goddard’s sleight of hand sending Hugo Neville to heaven for McLaughlin to convert.
Blackrock had had enough by this stage, Cooney making a block and a pick for a try in the left corner.
They opted to manage their way to the end from there, putting their big boys on the ball to test Gonzaga’s endless reserves of character.
Simple game management meant a maul was manoeuvred for captain McCarthy to claim the sixth try, Quirke converting for 43-21 in the 65th minute.
It was left to the menace of the maul to do its’ work again with replacement Mikey Yarr in the van as it steamrolled to the line for Conor O’Shaughnessy to land the conversion.
Scorers – Blackrock: H Cooney 2 tries; L Molony, E Walsh, A Quinn, P McCarthy, M Yarr try each; Z Quirke pen, 5 cons; C O’Shaughnessy con. Gonzaga: H McLaughlin try, 3 cons; R Finlay, H Neville try each.
Blackrock: R Moloney; A Quinn, H Cooney, L Kritzinger, E Walsh; Z Quirke, O Coffey; M Holmes, G McCarthy (Capt), P McCarthy; T Brigg, C Tonge; L Molony, I Cruise-O’Brien, K Jackson. Replacements: J Molony for Tonge ht; J Angulo for L Molony, W Fitzgerald for Coffey; T O’Riordan for Holmes all 65 mins; C O’Shaughnessy for Quirke, M Yarr for G McCarthy, A Andersson for P McCarthy, M Aschenbrenner for Walsh all 66 mins.
Gonzaga: H McLaughlin; H Neville, H Goddard, J Browne, R Finlay; S McMahon, M Sullivan; T Hammond, T Cotter, G Morris, T Murphy, L O’Callaghan, N Maguire (Capt), G O’ Donnell, P Wilson. Replacements: T Noone for O’Donnell 42 mins; O Murray for Sullivan 44 mins; L McLaughlin for Cotter 55 mins; O O’Neill for Finlay 58 mins; T Wyley for Murphy 62 mins; M Tyrrell for O’Callaghan, A O’Flanagan for Neville, A McVerry for Hammond all 66 mins.
Referee: A Cole (Leinster Branch).