©INPHO/James Crombie Centre Thomas Finucane helped his side take the Connacht Senior Cup last year and is back for another go.
Schools Cup round-up: Marist race out of the blocks in defence of senior title
Meanwhile, Garbally used the full force of their impressive pack to see off Rice College.

Marist College 54

The Bish 7

DEFENDING CHAMPIONS MARIST College today took to the field for the first time in the year’s Connacht Senior Cup and showed their credentials to claim a third consecutive senior crown with a 54 – 7 win over St Joseph’s.

The Athlone school were not in action during the opening round of fixtures, but were awarded the points from the scheduled meeting with Clifden.

The Bish found themselves on the receiving end of that pent up aggression, and Marist powered to a 40 -7 half time lead. The damage done, the home side added two tries to take them over the half century in the second period.

With Sligo Grammar yet to play, today’s bonus point win gives the champions control of Pool B with one game to play.

Rice College 6

Garbally College 43

In Pool A, Garbally opened their stride and took a big step towards February’s semi-finals with a 43 – 6 win away to Westport’s Rice College.

The visitors played into the wind in the first half, but their pack showed signs of dominating from early on. They might have taken the lead earlier than the seventh minute had it not been for a series of handling errors, but fullback Stephen Tierney grounded a try in the corner to give them an early upper hand.

Even after ill discipline from last year’s beaten finalists allowed Tom McHale slot two penalties for Rice, Tierney continue to provide the spark. Counter-attacking into the wind, Garbally used the ball-carriers in the pack effectively with stand-out tighthead Conor Kenny brushing tacklers off and creating the space for international Under 19 lock Peter Claffey dotting down in the corner.

The wind prevented out-half Simon Keller from adding to the touchdowns, but his side took a 10 -6 lead into the break.

Playing into the wind, McHale cut down on the kicking game that had served Rice well in the first half and the visiting pack assumed full control of the game and second row Sam Holland forced his way under the posts for try number three.

A rolling maul took Garbally 20 metres up-field before the Rice pack were penalised for pulling it down and the following line-out would yield a try for hooker Niall Higgins. By then the floodgates were opened and directly from the restart openside Dylan Connolly, broke the line and, after unleashing Keller, Connolly popped up again in the following phases to finish the move he started.

At 31 – 6, the game was long done and dusted as a contest and Claffey claimed his second score of the day before a back finally crossed the whitewash in the shape of the the pacey scrum-half Donnachadh Reilly.

Keller would end the day with four conversions to his name from seven attempts; steady going when you take the angle and wind conditions involved.

Summerhill 10

Colaiste Iognaid 13

Garbally’s win was made all the more important as Summerhill failed to make it two wins from two, losing by a single penalty to Colaiste Iognaid.

The result puts the Galway school in the mix for a semi-final berth, though Sligo’s Summerhill still hold second place in the pools by virtue of the losing bonus point.

- Additional reporting by Conor O’Leary. Visit  Connacht Rugby for fixtures and standings.

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