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Heartbreak for new boys St Fintan's as Clongowes snatch nine-try thriller in Donnybrook

Clongowes survived a huge scare in the opening round.

James McCourt with Jack Gilheany James McCourt and St Fintan's dumped out of the Leinster Senior Cup by Jack Gilheany's Clongowes. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

Clongowes Wood College 31

St Fintan’s 29

- Sinead Farrell reports from Donnybrook

THERE WAS DRAMA in abundance in Donnybrook as eight-time winners Clongowes snatched victory to progress to the second round of the Leinster Senior Schools Cup.

It was a victory which Clongowes were forced to earn as St Fintan’s, playing in the competition for the first time in their history, proved their worth at the top table.

With their fans in full voice, Fintan’s produced a superb performance which saw them lead for most of the game before losing in heartbreaking circumstances.

Down to 14 men and trailing by two points with time up, centre Frankie O’Dea had a chance to snatch victory with a tough penalty. His kick was on target but fell agonisingly short, allowing Clongowes to progress.

In the end, the Clane school’s experience and tradition saw them over the line, although Fintan’s were full value for their 14-point lead at half time.

They instigated a high tempo to the opening exchanges. After surviving an early scare when Clongowes appeared to have broken their lines, Fintan’s found a gap themselves but their attack was snuffed out by the Clongowes cover.

Daniel Achimugu with Anthony Ryan Daniel Achimugu tries to bring down Anthony Ryan. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

The Sutton side were dealt a blow in the early exchanges when Nathan Henderson was forced off with an apparent head injury.

But over the subsequent stages, the momentum remained with them as they bombarded the Clongowes cover and found touch with a terrific kick that brought them to within a few metres of the opposition try-line.

After several attempts to break through fell short, Fintan’s eventually worked the game’s opening try through Darragh Kelly. Further tries from Conor Mahon and Simon Feeney put them firmly in the driving seat at the break, leading 17-3 as Clongowes struggled to keep pace.

The second half witnessed a gutsy revival from Clongowes and Jack Gilheany crossed the whitewash within the first few minutes to bring the deficit back to 17-10.

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Jack Aungier scores a try Jack Aungier stretches to score a Fintan's try. Source: Donall Farmer/INPHO

It looked like they would build on that but their comeback was immediately interrupted, Jack Aungier blocking down a kick and then touching down to keep Fintan’s noses in front.

Clongowes rallied and took the lead for the first time with two tries from captain Sean McCrohan and Thomas Monaghan making it 24-22 in their favour.

But Fintan’s manufactured another try, this time through James McCourt who found the space to storm through and touched down. O’Dea’s conversion restored their lead and put them 29-24 ahead with time ticking away.

Clongowes maintained their resistance and repeatedly went on the offensive, looking for a chink of space to exploit.

And with two minutes remaining, Matthew Martin found the gap to restore parity and Ben O’Shea made no mistake with the conversion to make it 31-29, capping a flawless display of kicking from the tee.

One final chance was presented to Fintan’s at the end. Awarded a penalty on the half-way line, they opted for a pick and go in pursuit of a decisive score.

Their persistence was rewarded with another penalty in a better position, and O’Dea decided to go for the posts.

His kick had the accuracy but lacked the distance and Clongowes rejoiced when the ball finally came back down to earth.

They now go through to the second round draw which takes place on Friday.

Clongowes Wood scorers:
Tries: Jack Gilheany, Sean McCrohan, Thomas Monaghan, Matthew Martin.

Conversions: Ben O’Shea [4 from 4]

Penalties: Ben O’Shea [1 from 1]

St Fintan’s scorers:Tries: Darragh Kelly, Conor Mahon, Simon Feeney, Jack Aungier, James McCourt.

Conversions: Frankie O’Dea [2 from 5]

CLONGOWES WOOD COLLEGE: Jack Gilheany; Reinis Lemess, Tim O’Brien (Joe Carroll 61′), Ben O’Shea, John Maher;  Thomas Monaghan, Conrad Daly (Charles Gallen 62′); Darragh Slattery (John Timmins 50′), Dan Sheehan, Ronan Hannon; Patrick Celebi, Daniel Beggs; Anthony Ryan, Sean Ojejinmi (Matthew Martin, 8′), Sean McCrohan (captain).

ST. FINTAN’S HIGH SCHOOL: Nathan Henderson (Dan Callan, 5′); George Bodor, Darragh Kelly, Frankie O’Dea, Daniel Achimugu (Conor Moore, 36′); James McCourt, Sean Cribbin (captain); Aziz Naser, Conor Mahon (Michael Fitzpatrick 40′), Jack Aungier; Harry Harrison, Conor Stokes; Simon Feeney (Jack Brewer 50′[temporary]), Cian Hynes (Jack Brewer 60′), Declan Adamson.

Referee: Andrew Cole

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