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Dublin: 18 °C Saturday 8 August, 2020

Blackrock lay down title credentials with big semi-final win over Mary's

The 68-time winners powered into next week’s decider with a six-try win at Donnybrook.

Ruairi Shields is tackled by Blackrock's Stephen Madigan.
Ruairi Shields is tackled by Blackrock's Stephen Madigan.
Image: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

Blackrock College 42

St Mary’s College 15

Ryan Bailey reports from Donnybrook

AS FAR AS big semi-final performances go, this was a real statement of intent from Blackrock as they flexed their considerable muscle to power into the Leinster Senior Schools Cup decider for a second year running.

It was a great shame St Mary’s were unable to replicate the level of performance which had seen them reach this juncture of the competition, but they never settled into the occasion and the contest was over before it ever got going as Blackrock ran in six tries to lay down their title credentials.

And certainly on this evidence, coupled with their imposing wins over Castleknock and St Gerard’s, Justin Vanstone’s side have enough in their armoury to end the school’s four-year drought on St Patrick’s weekend.

Physically, they aren’t the biggest side but a dynamic pack once again provided the go-forward ball and platform for their thrilling backline, led by captain Liam Turner and flying wingers Liam McMahon and Harry Donnelly, to cut Mary’s apart.

Jamie Cornett’s charges were simply unable to deal with the pace and handling skills Blackrock possessed and Mary’s were also guilty of shooting themselves in the foot on occasion, most notably when Sean Bourke’s kick was charged down by Donnelly for Blackrock’s third try.

By that stage, Mary’s were already chasing the game after Blackrock had exerted their dominance from the first minute with McMahon finishing off a period of pressure inside the opening exchanges.

The second score was the highlight. A powerful scrum laid the platform for a glorious training ground move which involved James Tarrant and Turner’s reverse offload for Donnelly to cut through and dot down under the posts.

Adam McEvoy tackles Stephen Madigan Fullback Stephen Madigan once again impressed for Blackrock. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

The winger was over for his second shortly after when he pounced on Bourke’s attempted grubber through, and McMahon crossed again in this near corner before the break to make it 30-3 at the interval.

Mary’s, to their credit, batted resolutely and were rewarded with two late scores of their own, but it took them too long to produce the brand of attacking rugby which had dispatched St Andrew’s and Roscrea in the earlier rounds.

Replacement flanker Joe Nolan finished off a period of sustained Mary’s territory and Hugo Conway then streaked cleared of the Blackrock defence moments later after Tim MacMahon’s initial break.

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But ultimately it was one hurdle too many for the Rathmines school in this campaign, as Blackrock finished with a flurry through Gavin Jones to book their place in the final in emphatic fashion.

They will watch Wednesday’s second semi-final between holders Belvedere and St Michael’s with interest, but will go to the RDS brimming with confidence that this is the year Blackrock will end their wait for title number 69.

Blackrock scorers:
Tries: Liam McMahon [2], Harry Donnelly [2], Thomas Clarkson, Gavin Jones.
Penalties: James Tarrant [1 from 1], Stephen Madigan [1 from 1]
Conversions: Stephen Madigan [1 from 3], James Tarrant [2 from 2], Rory Madigan [0 from 1]
St Mary’s scorers:Tries: Joe Nolan, Hugo Conway
Penalties: Ruairi Shields [1 from 1]
Conversions: Ruairi Shields [1 from 2]

BLACKROCK COLLEGE: 15. Stephen Madigan; 14. Liam McMahon, 13. Liam Turner (captain), 12. Tom Maher, 11. Harry Donnelly; 10. James Tarrant, 9. Louis O’Reilly; 1. Donnacha Mescal, 2. Sean Molony, 3. Thomas Clarkson, 4. Sean O’Brien, 5. Jack Stapleton, 6. Josh Dixon, 7. Michael McGagh, 8. Ed Brennan.

Replacements: 16. Luke Mion, 17. Cian Duffy, 18. Hugo O’Malley, 19. Daniel Foley, 20. Jack Loscher, 21. Ross Barron, 22. Gavin Jones, 23. Rory Madigan.

ST MARY’S COLLEGE: 15. Ruairi Shields; 14. Hugo Conway, 13. Ben McDonnell, 12. Timothy MacMahon, 11. Eoin Carey; 10. Sean Bourke, 9. Adam McEvoy; 1. Sean O’Reilly, 2. Gavin O’Brien, 3. Conor McElearney, 4. Sean Heeran, 5. Ian Wickham, 6. Oscar Byrne, 7. Harry McSweeney (captain), 8. Niall Hurley.

Replacements: 16. Craig Walsh, 17. Ellioy Massey, 18. Eoin Power, 19. Eoin Byrne, 20. Joe Nolan, 21. Eoin Franklin, 22. Peter Masterson, 23. Michael McEvoy.

Referee: Dermot Blake.

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Ryan Bailey

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