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Hawkshaw guides Belvo to glory

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Max Kearney and his Belvedere College team-mates celebrate following the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup Final. Photo: Sportsfile

Max Kearney and his Belvedere College team-mates celebrate following the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup Final. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Max Kearney and his Belvedere College team-mates celebrate following the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup Final. Photo: Sportsfile

For the second year running and 12th time in all, the cup made its way north of the Liffey as Belvedere defended their title with incredible resilience and no little discipline at a wet and windy RDS yesterday.

In the end just Peter Maher's try separated the sides, and although the result hung in the balance right up to the final whistle, Belvo just about most deserved it.

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Charlie Ryan of Blackrock College takes possession in a lineout ahead of Oran O'Brien of Belvedere College. Photo: Sportsfile

Charlie Ryan of Blackrock College takes possession in a lineout ahead of Oran O'Brien of Belvedere College. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Charlie Ryan of Blackrock College takes possession in a lineout ahead of Oran O'Brien of Belvedere College. Photo: Sportsfile

In difficult conditions, these sides delivered an absorbing contest underpinned by remarkable defensive organisation, ferocious tackling and total intensity.

Backed by a particularly strong wind, Belvo started strongly, but Blackrock soon came into it, through the carrying of Giuseppe Coyne, Stephen McLoughlin, Andrew Murphy and particularly Cian Reilly.

Belvo, led by the remarkable back-row of Conor Doran, Max Kearney and Ruadhan Byron, tackled everything that moved.

Beyond that, 'Rock scrum-half Patrick Patterson and Belvo out-half David Hawkshaw were the key figures.

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Ruadhan Byron of Belvedere College in action against Tom Maher of Blackrock College. Photo: Sportsfile

Ruadhan Byron of Belvedere College in action against Tom Maher of Blackrock College. Photo: Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Ruadhan Byron of Belvedere College in action against Tom Maher of Blackrock College. Photo: Sportsfile

Patterson's speedy delivery and intelligent kicking in rain and wind had the Belvedere defence on constant alert.

Hawkshaw gave a performance in the No 10 shirt of which his most famous predecessor Ollie Campbell would have been immensely proud at a comparable age.

He delivered his most complete performance of the cup campaign on this the biggest stage. His defensive work was selfless, and his kicking out of hand top drawer.

Hawkshaw's intelligent grubber kick in the 21st minute created all sorts of problems for 'Rock full-back Tom Roche, leaving Maher to touch down.

The equally impressive Hugh O'Sullivan added the extras and tacked on a well-struck penalty in the 26th minute for a hard-earned 10-0 lead at the break.

Peter O'Reilly cut into that lead with an outstanding kick two minutes into the second half.

At 10-3, and the powerful wind favouring 'Rock, it was game on. Add to that the constant threat of the Reilly/Patterson axis at 8/9, plus the bullocking runs of Coyne and Murphy, and it was all hands to the pump for a Belvo defence stretched to the limit.

But it was clear that coach Phil Werahiko had his charges well rehearsed in the art of keeping it tight and playing the clock down. It was up-the-jumper time.

A penalty conceded in the final seconds resulted in 'Rock taking play right up to the Belvo line.

Somehow that extraordinary black and white defence again prevailed as excellent referee Paul Haycock blew the final whistle to scenes of instant agony and ecstasy.

Belvedere - H O'Sullivan; M Donnelly, P Maher, C Walsh, J Wilkes (S Barry 43); D Hawkshaw, P Cagney; C Molloy (J Haughey 68), A McDonnell (C Byrne 61), J Robinson; G Murray, O O'Brien (D Hill 61); C Doran, M Kearney (capt), R Byron.

Blackrock - T Roche; T Maher (R Deegan 35), L Turner, J Moriarty, D Heavey; P O'Reilly, P Patterson (R Fahy 65); G Coyne (C Delaney 64), S McLoughlin (S Molony 50), J Byrne (T Clarkson 50); A Murphy, C Ryan (J Burke 50); J Fairley (M McGagh 44), A Francis, C Reilly (capt).

Ref - P Haycock (ARLB)

Irish Independent