Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 3°C
# Shock
Gonzaga make history with dramatic late comeback to dump Blackrock out of Leinster Senior Cup
They scored two tries at the death to steal a famous victory.


blackrock-dejected-at-the-final-whistle Tommy Dickson / INPHO Blackrock dejected at the final whistle. Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO


GONZAGA MADE HISTORY by beating Blackrock for the first time in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup first round at Energia Park this afternoon.  

They did it by staying in the game when they could have faded out of it, trailing 21-10 with time against them.    

Initially, the sheer bulk of the Blackrock pack suggested they would go route one and they didn’t disappoint early on, using their physical advantages well on both sides of the ball.  

The back row of James Culhane, Matthew Wood and Aaron Rowan set about making the fringes a no-go area, often doubling up in the tackle to discourage number eight Hugo Fitzgerald and prop George Morris.

They moved ahead in the second minute from Tom Gavigan’s first and third penalties for a 6-0 lead in the third and 12th minutes, the out-half glancing another effort off the left upright.

Gonzaga, forced to survive on crumbs, did look dangerous when the ball reached the hands of centre Jack Browne.

They slipped further behind when Blackrock’s maul created the diversion for Tom Henderson to skate home from Sam Small’s lovely inside ball, Gavigan adding the extras for 13-0 on the half-hour.

gonzaga-fans-celebrate-after-the-game Tommy Dickson / INPHO Gonzaga fans celebrate after the game. Tommy Dickson / INPHO / INPHO

At last, Gonzaga were able to force a shot at goal for Harry Colbert to snap the lead back to ten only for Gavigan to make it 16-3 at the interval.

The complexion of the contest changed when Gonzaga wing Simon Wilson took off down the left and the same man was on hand to claim Colbert’s crossfield kick for a superb try, converted by Colbert in the 39th minute to make it a one-score game.

Their hopes of a comeback looked to be dashed when ‘Rock wing Joh Francis Campbell sliced through on the left to make it an 11-point game.
With time ticking by, Gonzaga were clinical in the endgame, first forcing the issue for wing Hugh Lynn to dive over on the right, Colbert a foot away from making the conversion.

They needed the ball back quickly and they got it, moving through the gears to stretch ‘Rock to the right and swinging left for Wilson to take Colbert’s pass off his bootlaces for a fine finish.

The pandemonium in the stands did not prevent Colbert from holding his nerve to give Gonzaga the lead and a place in the quarter-final.            

Scorers: Gonzaga: S Wilson 2 tries; H Lynn try; H Colbert pen, 2 cons.
Blackrock College: T Henderson, JF Campbell try each; T Gavigan 3 pens, con.      

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BLACKROCK: Shane Murray; Tom Henderson, Sam Small, Ben Brownlee, John Francis Campbell; Tom Gavigan, Matthew Cullen; Scott Barron, Charlie O’Carroll, Hugo O’Malley, Mark Morrissey (capt), Alex Simpson, James Culhane, Matthew Wood, Aaron Rowan.

Replacements: Harry Maguire for O’Malley, Jeff Kenny for Henderson both 47 mins; David Walsh for Rowan 60 mins; Jack Byrne for Simpson 63 mins; Paddy McCarthy for O’Carroll 69 mins; Liam Heylin for Barron, Michael Moloney for Gavigan both 70 mins.  

GONZAGA: Jamie McNulty; Hugh Lynn, Brian Barron, Jack Browne, Simon Wilson; Harry Colbert, Eadbhard O’Callaghan; George Morris, George Kenny, Ronan Shaw, Seamus Carroll, Spencer O’Connell, Arthur Henry, Tom Cullen (capt), Hugo Fitzgerald.

Replacements: Davy Colbert for Browne 47 mins; Max Colgan for O’Callaghan 50 mins; Noah Maguire for G Morris 60 mins.

Referee: P Hancock, Leinster Branch.

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