'Rock shade six-try classic
Blackrock College 22
Leinster Junior Cup Semi-Final
It was desperately sad that there had to be a loser at Donnybrook yesterday, such was the outstanding quality of this thrilling Powerade-sponsored clash.
In all my years covering the game at this level, there have been few encounters to match this gem.
It was a match that had everything that ensured you dare not take your eyes off the action, as six times the lead changed hands before Blackrock eventually sneaked home.
In all there were six tries scored (and there could have been as many again) but on the basis that 'Rock crossed for four to Clongowes' two, the Williamstown school deserved their victory.
Clongowes took the lead in the ninth minute when brilliant scrum-half Ruairi O'Farrell was stopped by Zach O'Hagan within touching distance of the line. Once the Clongowes cavalry arrived, the pack rumbled and loose-head Billy Carroll got the opening try. Out-half Stephen McVeigh converted.
Within six minutes, 'Rock had narrowed the gap to two points when Johnny Redmond crossed out wide. They soon took the lead when No 8 Nicholas Timoney and centre Ian Kinsley paved the way for the dangerous O'Hagan to cross.
But right from the restart, the most impressive runner on the field, Cillian Burke, cut through the middle before powerful wing Cian O'Donoghue touched down in the corner for the purple and whites.
McVeigh added a penalty on 33 minutes for a 15-10 lead, but it too was short-lived when flanker Oliver Jager crossed and Dillon Coghlan converted for a 17-15 half-time lead to Blackrock.
Within three minutes of the restart a second McVeigh penalty put the Clane School back in front 18-17.
Lively replacement hooker Hugo Keane restored the 'Rock lead with a 53rd-minute try and when McVeigh landed his third penalty it was nip and tuck at 22-21 all the way to the finish.
It was heartbreaking there had to be a loser, but both schools can take great satisfaction for their input into as skilful and exciting a contest as you will witness anywhere this season.
Blackrock -- Z O'Hagan; J Redmond (E O'Sullivan 67), J O'Hehir (G Glynn 38), I Kinsley, D Coughlan (D O'Mahony 38); J Power, T Brady; S Lynch (D Fitzpatrick 45), G Moylan (H Keane 45), E Holland; J Dwan, D O'Connor; O Jager (C O'Dwyer 62), E Fanning, N Timoney (capt).
Clongowes -- D Kiely; C Neary, C Burke, C Mulcahy, C O'Donoghue; S McVeigh, R O'Farrell; B Carroll, J Lyons (J Pimm 49), J Inglis; J Fitzpatrick, B O'Regan (J Kennedy 57); C Gillick (J O'Brien 65), E Tyrrell, M Jones (capt).
Ref -- S Gallagher (LRR).