Thursday 18 January 2018

Super Belvo cut loose to banish pain

Belvedere 21 Roscrea 7

Peter Maher goes over to score Belvedere College’s fourth try in yesterday’s Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup final. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Peter Maher goes over to score Belvedere College’s fourth try in yesterday’s Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup final. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Belvedere College's Paraic Cagney and Ruadhan Byron. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Belvedere College's James McKeown and Peter Maher. Photo: Stephen McCarthy / Sportsfile
Tony Ward

Tony Ward

For the 11th time the Cup makes its way north of the Liffey as Belvedere College established themselves second only to Blackrock in the roll of honour with this five-try victory over reigning champions Roscrea at the RDS.

It rewards a particularly talented group of Belvedere players with a winning return they so richly deserve having lost two Junior Cup finals and one Senior decider.

In pretty much perfect playing conditions they announced their intent early when twice declining to kick for goal and opting instead to go up the touchline in search of the opening try.

Just two minutes in it came when the consistently outstanding full-back Hugh O’Sullivan touched down under the posts. Last year’s half-back partner Conor Jennings, like O’Sullivan now playing further out the line,  converted and ‘mission revenge’ was well and truly underway.

But with ten cup winners from last year back on board again, including six in the pack, Roscrea were never going to relinquish their hard won title lightly. Sparked by a Brian Diffley surge carried on by Fineen Wycherley and Dylan Murphy they laid siege to the Belvo line.   

But they could not get over it. While they will rue the number of errors in contact, they  were up against a Belvedere defence on top of its game in terms of intensity and physicality in the tackle and at the breakdown, with Daniel McCaffrey, skipper Brian Egan and outstanding flanker Max Kearney leading the way.

Kearney has been immense throughout this competition and in the 20th minute, the tearaway flanker raced some 60 metres on a solo run deep into the opposition 22. Following another few phases the same player got his reward when diving over for try number two and with Jennings again adding the extras, Belvo had a 14-point lead going into the break.

Indeed they might have had another and a possible contender for try of the season only for a forward pass from O’Sullivan to winger James McKeown to be correctly called back.

It was vital Roscrea scored next but Belvo hitting overdrive on the resumption, with poacher supreme McKeown showing extraordinary determination to cross at the corner just over a minute in. The mole-hill had become a mountain.


With Paraic Cagney and David Hawkshaw combining sweetly at half-back a flowing move in the 46th minute sent Peter Maher – as effective on the left as McKeown is on the right -  racing in at the Simonscourt corner for try number four and a 24-point lead.

The Belvo adventure didn’t finish there. A brilliant piece of  invention with O’Sullivan (yet again) and Hawkshaw central resulted in the supporting McKeown sprinting in under the posts for Jennings to widen the gap to 31.

To their credit the defending champions had the final scoring say when Jack Culligan touched down for Alan Tynan to convert. Alas it was much too little far too late as the best squad over the course of the competition did themselves justice on the day. A title richly earned and taken with aplomb.

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