Quirke star of show for magical Clongowes
CC Roscrea 15
Leinster Schools Senior Final
A little bit of history was created at the RDS yesterday when Clongowes Wood became the first team from the college to record back-to-back Senior Cup successes.
How fitting that it should be this group to enter the record books for not only are they the most complete side to represent the Clane school, but are right up there with the very best in this great competition's history.
Yesterday this side, whose quality is evident throughout the squad, performed like a team unfazed by the red-hot favourites tag they acquired from their performances in this competition prior to the decider.
Roscrea knew what they were up against it, but, nonetheless, gave it a real go. Their main men, not least centres Shane Layden and Conor Finn, probed with menacing conviction at every opportunity, while colossal lock Rory Moloney ran himself to a standstill.
Bill Duggan and Philip O'Dwyer also had their individual moments, but in order to seriously challenge the Clongowes' psychological supremacy, they needed to score first and early. However, once that opening try went the other way, they feared the worst and so it came to pass.
Highlighting individuals is almost a waste of time where this Clongowes squad is concerned. To a man, they were on fire and in sync. And if there has been a more complete back-row unit at this level than Nick McCarthy, Conor Gilsenan and Jordan Coghlan (not to mention replacement Diarmuid Kennedy), then I haven't seen it.
But the star of the show on this stage and on this day was out-half David Quirke, whose all-round performance, including two stunning tries, was truly mesmeric. Fittingly, it was he who set it all under way just seven minutes in when ripping through the Roscrea defence before outstanding half-back partner Conor McQuaid made the touchdown. Conor Mahony landed the conversion with unerring accuracy and, even at this stage, the signs were ominous.
Another seven minutes had elapsed when Quirke made a second scintillating break, culminating in a superb solo try. Mahony pegged on the extras. In the 24th minute came a third Clongowes' try, this time courtesy of the electric McCarthy. With Mahony again converting for a 21-point lead, it was effectively over as a contest.
O'Dwyer did have a snap drop goal attempt for Roscrea, but that was as close as they got, and the final points of the half were delivered by the assured boot of Mahony for an insurmountable 24-point lead at the break.
Roscrea came out for the second half with all guns blazing and just a minute in Duggan struck a sweet penalty to narrow the gap. But all it did was stir the hornet's nest. Within five minutes, following effective off loading between props Gordon Frayne and Edward Byrne, Coghlan ran in almost unopposed from the subsequent five-metre scrum. Mahony again added the conversion for a 31-3 lead.
Three minutes later and with both Byrnes, Edward and Bryan, leading the charge, Mahony squeezed in at the corner for yet another try, making a little bit of history in the process as the first at schools level to be adjudicated by a TMO (Alan Rogan).
Roscrea battled back and, fittingly, it was the outstanding lock Moloney who appeared to get the touchdown for a collective forward effort converted by Duggan. Then in the 56th minute, the coup de grace, as the brilliant Quirke ripped the heart and soul out of the attempted Roscrea comeback courtesy of a second, even more stunning, individual try. Mahony converted before adding a final penalty for an impressive 21-point personal haul.
The final scoring act went to Roscrea replacement wing Jack O'Driscoll with a well-taken try in the corner. But the reigning champions were home and hosed, out of sight and by some distance the best in the competition.
Clongowes -- H Burns; G Murray, J Glynn (S Fromm 56), C Joyce, C Mahony; D Quirke, C McQuaid (M McFarland 49); G Frayne (T Collis 56), B Byrne, E Byrne; B Phelan (P Timmins 49), T Byrne; N McCarthy (D Kennedy 52), C Gilsenan (capt), J Coghlan (B Grehan 64).
Cistercian College, Roscrea -- P O'Dwyer; C Brennan (M Fitzgerald 68), S Layden, C Finn (capt), M Mellotte (J O'Driscoll 65); B Duggan, G Gallagher; G Fallon (O Heffernan 48), D O'Dwyer, C Farrell (S Moran 60); A McGrath, R Moloney (J Fitzpatrick 60); A Henderson (A Wheatley 68), E Quirke (R Enraght Mooney 48), C Moloney.
Ref -- K Beggs (LRR).