Godson hat-trick drives Gonzaga to first Cup final
Gonzaga College 22 Clongowes Wood College 19
It was always going to take something special for Gonzaga to make their first Leinster Schools Senior Cup final and it came in the form of a hat-trick from prop Henry Godson at Energia Park.
The opening skirmishes were fraught with pulverising intensity and suffocating defence from both sides.
Slowly, Clongowes began to crank up the pressure on the back of lock Hugh Lonergan's scything break.
They squeezed out hard yards and, eventually, got profit on the outside as centre Hugo Philips sent wing Mark Galvin hurtling up the left and stayed in support to take the return pass home in the 14th minute.
Gonzaga's work at the breakdown saved them a further concession of points.
When they finally made ground from hooker Hugo Fitzgerald's turnover, the maul moved impressively for Godson to lunge for the try in the 27th minute.
This was all the invitation Gonzaga needed to get into the game, wing Brian Barron powering up the left, Connolly skying a kick that had trouble written all over it. It resulted in a five-metre scrum and Godson was the difference again for his second try in five minutes, Connolly converting for 12-5 at the interval.
On the return, Clongowes were back in business, and even ahead, from two tries in three minutes.
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The first arrived from hooker Ethan Noone's drive for five and their continuity through phases created enough space for wing Luke McDermott to hit the line at top speed for the second, Wilkinson converting both for 19-12 in the 50th minute.
A stray foot at a ruck allowed Connolly's penalty to stop the bleeding and Arthur Henry and Jack Coolican had Gonzaga quickly storming forward through the middle.
When Gonzaga stole an overthrown lineout, their forwards gathered around for a crack or two and it came as no surprise to see that man Godson rise from a heap of bodies to claim his prize.
Clongowes - J Maher; L McDermott (T O'Brien 57), J Carroll, H Philips (F Kiernan 63), M Galvin; D Wilkinson, R MacGoey; C Duff (B Dooley 17), E Noone (C Dowling 62), R McMahon, C Doyle, H Lonergan (P Dowling 62), D McCormack, T Gilheany, T Coghlan (capt).
Gonzaga - C Hennessy; F ó hOisín, F O'Grady, K Morgan, B Barron; H Colbert, J Connolly: H Godson, H Fitzgerald, R Shaw, L Tyrell, J Coolican, C Kirby-O'Briain (A Henry 20), T Cullen, J Barry (capt).
Ref - D Blake (Leinster Branch)