Friday 27 April 2018

Classy Belvedere book Leinster Schools Senior Cup final date with Roscrea

Belvedere 36 St Michael’s 22

Belvedere College players celebrate after the game
Belvedere College players celebrate after the game

For the second year running it will be an all black and white final as Belvedere fulfilled their status as favourites when deservedly getting the better of St Michaels in the second of this year's Senior semi finals at Donnybrook yesterday.

The Great Denmark Street school will now meet Roscrea in a repeat of the 2015 decider.

While in the end it took a couple of opportunist tries, with Michael's chasing the game, to seal the deal nonetheless over the seventy minutes they again appeared the most complete unit in the competition.

It would be wrong to suggest there are no stand out individuals but certainly the many and varied components equal the sum of the parts and for that Phil Werahiko and his coaching staff deserve great credit.

Peter Maher and James McKeown, Belvedere College, celebrate after the game
Peter Maher and James McKeown, Belvedere College, celebrate after the game

'Michael's for their part put sensible width on the ball in attempting to set the classy Jack Kelly free but in truth despite an end to end second half, Belvo appeared almost always in control whether with or without the ball. That is no sleight on Michael's in attack but a reflection of the quality and strength in depth of Belvedere this time around.

They looked the more likely to break the early deadlock and in the tenth minute did when following a ruck in midfield the ever-dangerous James McKeown took a clever inside ball, slicing through the 'Michael's defence before trading passes with the versatile Hugh O'Sullivan in a race to the line. Conor Jennings converted and the Belvo machine was up and running but a Harry Byrne penalty in the 13th minute narrowed the gap to four before Jennings (striking the ball with much greater conviction this time out) restored the lead to seven.

The livewire Paraic Cagney crossed for a try in the 24th minute with Jennings again adding the extras with authority for a 17-3 lead. The ten minutes that followed was to prove the match-determining spell with Belvo establishing a huge psychological advantage when defending their line relentlessly in the vital lead in to the break.

Michael's were playing well and with sensible adventure yet, Belvo continued comfortably in control. Left wing Jeff O'Loughlin pulled off a try saving tackle on Jennings after a David Hawkshaw break just five mins into the second half but it was a respite short lived when a superb Jennings attacking line cut through the 'Michael's defence for McKeown to cross again in the corner.

At 22-3 it was time for the Ailesbury Road school to throw caution to the wind as their two outstanding individuals on the day - full back Kelly and flanker Scott Penny - crossed for tries with Byrne converting one to narrow the gap to seven (22-15).

Despite workaholic lock Jack Dunne crossing for Byrne to again convert, intercept tries either side of that touch down by O'Sullivan and by McKeown (for his hat trick) with Jennings again unerringly accurate made for a fourteen point difference at the final whistle. Tough on the vanquished but on balance just about right.    

Belvedere College players applaud St. Michael's College as they leave the field
Belvedere College players applaud St. Michael's College as they leave the field

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