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Michael's stand firm against Belvo to make first final since 2013

Chris Cosgrave grabbed 11 points in a frenetic one-point win over last year’s finalists.

Cosgrave darts in for his try.
Cosgrave darts in for his try.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Belvedere College 15
St Michael’s College 16

Sean Farrell reports from Donnybrook

LEE BARRON’S TRY with 11 minutes remaining was the crucial nudge St Michael’s needed to edge beyond Belvedere and into the Leinster Schools Senior Cup final for the first time since 2013.

The narrow win at the end of a helter-skelter contest sees St Michael’s avenge their heart-breaking loss at this stage last season against Belvo, when they were 19-3 to the good before succumbing to an incredible comeback and a 19-20 defeat.

Last year’s finalists gave Michael’s defence plenty of headaches today too. Thrilling line-breaks from Cailean Mulvaney, Justin Leonard and Cian Rogers added style to the substance of the pack, who paved the way for tries from Andrew Synnott, Dylan O’Grady and Conor Cagney.

Michael’s never looked over-matched, however, thanks to Will Hickey, the tireless Mark Hernan, Stephen Woods and Jack Guinane. Plus, they had the stardust that comes with Chris Cosgrave, who was responsible for 11 of his side’s points.

The northsiders laid down their marker in the set-piece, early scrum dominance hewn through the work of Cagney and Hugh Flood gave them prime field position. And while Jack Boyle made his presence felt at the breakdown, Belvo kept coming back.

Another scrum penalty brought the black and white pack a five-metre line-out. Twice they flexed their muscles in the maul; first time around they were held up, but they found enough separation at the second time of asking for Synnott to crash in among the bodies in the right-hand corner.

After 15 minutes under the cosh, Michael’s were hungry for an attack. Playing towards their supporters, they greeted penalties like scores and they very nearly delivered a beautiful try from a right to left back-line move.

Belvedere fullback Rory Dwyer did brilliantly to cover back towards his right corner, however, and snagged Mark O’Brien to deny a certain try. It was to be Dwyer’s last act of the game, as he was injured protecting the whitewash.

Michael’s were unable to find a breakthrough in what remained of the first-half and instead it was Belvedere who sparked their attack. Mulvaney broke the blue line in his own half to ease the pressure. And when Leonard found a hole shortly after, lock John Fish cynically took out his support runner to earn a yellow card.

Dylan O'Grady scores a try Dylan O'Grady gets in for his side's second try. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Belvo made hay and added their second try on the back of another powerful pack effort, replacement O’Grady diving over after Patrick Lysaght hit him on the short side.

Down 10-0 and a man, Michael’s gladly picked off the next penalty opportunity. Cosgrave put his side on the board after 29 minutes and it remained 10-3 through half-time.

Emmet McMahon’s side began the second half with renewed vigour, forcing a penalty for Cosgrave to make it 10-6 and through powerful carrying from Boyle and Hickey they forced the game to loosen up and the defensive line to fracture.

Ideal conditions for Niall Carroll and Cosgrave to attack in and their second wave brought an overlap on the left wing, where Guinane popped the final pass for Cosgrave to dart in and give his school the lead.

Belvedere would not be overawed by the momentum shift.

Replacement Rogers was explosive running from deep and brought the crowd to their feet as he thundered through gaps and upfield before Belvedere grabbed a third try through Conor Cagney.

Justin Leonard with Simon O'Kelly Justin Leonard gets the ball around Simon O'Kelly. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Again the touchline attempt proved an unforgiving angle for Leonard and his drilled effort left the lead at a perilous 15-11, not enough to keep Michael’s at bay when Barron barged over to edge Michael’s ahead.

With just over 10 minutes to play, it wasn’t much of a lead to protect, but McMahon’s men managed it with impressive assurance. Carroll and scrum-half Robert Gilsenan were steady hands on the tiller as they successfully navigated their way through to the St Patrick’s Day decider against Gonzaga.

Scorers

Belvedere College
Tries: A Synnott, D O’Grady C Cagney
Conversions: J Leonard (0/3)

St Michael’s College
Tries: C Cosgrave, L Barron
Conversions: C Cosgrave (0/2)
Penalties: C Cosgrave (2/3)

Belvedere College: Rory Dwyer (Dylan O’Grady ’18), Simon Murphy (Cian Rogers ’42), Caileann Mulvaney, John Meagher, Matthew Grogan, Justin Leonard, Patrick Lysaght ( Daniel Hawkshaw ’64): Hugh Flood (Mateusz Galinski ’49), Andrew Synott, Conor Cagney, Jed Jones (Gavin Murray ’60), Cormac Yalloway (Conor Kelly ’47), Eoghan Rutledge (Bill Jennings ’60), Aaron Coleman, Alekseiy Soroka.

Replacements not used: Jonathan Sergeant

St Michael’s College: Andrew Smith, Edward Kelly, Chris Cosgrave, Simon O’Kelly, Mark O’Brien (Rohan van den Akker ’49), Niall Carroll, Robert Gilsenan: Jack Boyle, Lee Barron, Fionn Finlay (James Power ’30), Stephen Woods, John Fish, Jack Guinane, Mark Hernan, Will Hickey.

Replacements not used: Joey Boland, Ben Victory, Luke Fehily, Conor Booth, Jeffrey Woods, Hugo McWade.

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About the author:

Sean Farrell

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