Dean holds his nerve late on to snatch replay
Blackrock 10 Belvedere 10
In the end, Blackrock had to rely on Conor Dean holding his nerve to slot a late penalty to snatch a replay as Belvedere were left to look back on yesterday’s titanic battle as one that got away.
Their goal kicker Conor Jennings missed three first-half penalties while Blackrock, who had lost their first choice kicker James McGowan in the second half through injury, were gifted a way back into the game.
Daniel McCaffrey’s high tackle with six minutes left on the clock was duly punished when Dean stepped up to the kicking tee for the first time all game and ensured that ’Rock will get a second chance.
It was easy to see why these two teams were installed as the favourites to lift the Cup as the pace and intensity from both sides made for an enthralling contest.
‘Rock came flying out of the traps and Belvo had to weather an early storm. McGowan missed the chance to put his side in front with a penalty early on and Jennings followed that up with two misses of his own as his side began to dictate matters.
After soaking up a barrage of pressure, ‘Rock struck first when Luke Gaffney’s sniping break created the game’s opening try after 17 minutes. The scrum-half found two props in front of him before he peeled off the side of a ruck and brilliantly offloaded to Richie Dunne who scored.
McGowan converted for a 7-0 lead but Jennings cut the deficit with a successful penalty when ’Rock were again penalised for not rolling away. Jennings had the chance to leave his side just a point behind on the stroke of half-time but he was wayward with a penalty attempt.
Just like ’Rock did in the opening half, Belvo came out flying after the restart and but for two excellent covering tackles from McGowan and Conor Kelly, they would have taken the lead.
Blackrock didn’t heed the warning signs though and Belvo deservedly got in for a try after 42 minutes when David Hawkshaw darted over from close range after Max Kearney and McCaffrey had both been stopped short of the line.
Jennings slotted the conversion to put his side 10-7 in front before ’Rock came storming back into the contest. Loosehead prop Charlie Connolly made a big impact from the bench, while Gavin Mullin, son of former Ireland centre Brendan, asked questions of the Belvo defence all afternoon.
Dean fired over the late penalty which left the sides having to do it all over again on Monday week and after yesterday’s cracking game which excited from the first whistle, there won’t be any complaints from the neutrals.
Blackrock College – J McGowan (F Power 56); P Patterson, G Mullin, L Turner, C Kelly; C Dean, L Gaffney; E Burns (C Connolly 39), S McLoughlin (H Egleston 62), R Mouatt; C O’Flaherty, C Ryan (J Gardner 39-53); R Dunne, J Fairley (H Burke 51), C Sweetnam-Doris (capt).
Belvedere College – H O’Sullivan; J McKeown, C Jennings, H Sexton, P Maher; D Hawkshaw, P Cagney (F Flood 54); D McCaffrey (J Robinson 65), C Galvin, C Walsh (C Molloy 65); H Fenlon (J Iredale 56), B Egan (capt); S McNulty (J Kenny 56), M Kearney, T De Jongh.
REF – D Blake