Bryan Keane/INPHO Scott Penny was in impressive form for Michael's.
Impressive Michael's lay down an early marker in quest to end Senior Cup drought
Terenure started brightly but were unable to match Michael’s up front during their first round clash at Donnybrook.

Terenure College 13

St Michael’s College 25

Ryan Bailey reports from Donnybrook

TOUGHER HURDLES WILL have to be negotiated if St Michael’s are to harbour genuine aspirations of reigning supreme at Senior Cup level again, but as far as opening assignments go, this was a mightily impressive showing.

Terenure, for their part, gave as good as they got for the opening half but were then blown away by a powerful Michael’s side, who turned the game on its head either side of the half-time interval.

Trailing to Adam La Grue’s opportunistic score, Michael’s swung the momentum back in their favour through hooker Lee Barron and then a quickfire second-half double from the outstanding Scott Penny and centre Chris Cosgrave.

The contest was settled by the 50th minute and although they were convincing winners, there was enough evidence here to suggest Michael’s have several more gears to go through as they look to end a six-year drought.

Those on Ailesbury Road will be eager to play down expectations, particularly when they’ve failed to live up to them in recent seasons, but this is another supremely talented group led by David Ryan.

The younger brother of Ireland international James, the centre is a big presence in midfield but has great hands and a penchant for running strong lines, while also being a reliable place-kicker.

All over the park, there were eye-catching displays from those in blue. Penny is an exciting prospect, while second row Ryan Baird showed all his potential with a tireless work-rate and explosive ability to carry.

Ryan Baird and Adam Dunne Bryan Keane / INPHO Ryan Baird was one of the standout performers for Michael's. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Once Emmet MacMahon’s side hit their straps in this first round tie, they pulled clear and had plenty of breathing room to see out a victory which lays down an early marker in the competition.

That said, Terenure — 10-time winners of this competition — made a fast start as they looked to cause an upset, and their brand of rugby was a joy to watch during the early exchanges.

With willing runners attacking from deep, and a dynamic pack ensuring clean and quick ball, Terenure possessed a cutting edge which really troubled the Michael’s defence.

Jamie Devlin was masterful in pulling the strings from out-half while Sam Dardis — younger brother of Ireland sevens captain, Billy — is a real presence at fullback, but ultimately they were overpowered by Michael’s as the game wore on.

John Coffey’s side came flying out of the blocks to set down an impressive tempo as Devlin cut through midfield, only to be chopped down as he advanced towards the line by Michael’s lock Matthew Healy, and then a high tackle on Dardis gave Terenure the chance to draw first blood.

Devlin has a gorgeous left boot and he made no mistake from the right, striking his first effort from the tee straight and true to give Terenure a 3-0 lead, only for indiscipline to then cost his side from the restart, as Ryan levelled matters.

Not to be deterred, Terenure continued to probe and their perseverance and patience was eventually rewarded when, out of nothing, space opened up for Leinster U19 centre La Grue to dart through and dive over, with Devlin’s conversion making it 10-3 after 17 minutes.

Michael’s found an impressive response, and through their big ball carriers, most notably Baird and number eight Dan O’Donovan, turned the complexion of the game around by striking twice before the break.

Chris Cosgrave celebrates scoring a try with Lee Barron Bryan Keane / INPHO Chris Cosgrave is congratulated. Bryan Keane / INPHO / INPHO

Firstly, Terenure had no answer to a powerful and controlled driving rolling maul in the far corner and hooker Barron had the simple task of falling over the line, before a third clean break of the half from flying fullback Mark O’Brien led to a penalty for Ryan to give his side the lead for the first time.

The momentum was firmly with the Ailesbury Road school, and MacMahon’s charges showed a ruthless edge to put Terenure away when they were firmly in the ascendancy.

When Ryan’s penalty from the right came back off the post, Penny was quickest to react and he showed athleticism and strength to grab the loose ball and ground it under the sticks, and although Devlin kept his side in touch with a second penalty, Michael’s were making hay down the other end.

Jay Barron slalomed through midfield and offloaded inside for the supporting Andrew Smith, with Dardis coming across to cover the danger, only for Michael’s to recycle and Cosgrave to spot the gap and dot down.

That was game over, and Michael’s safely through to Friday’s second round draw.

A long way to go, but could this be their year?

Terenure scorers:Tries: Adam La Grue
Penalties: Jamie Devlin [2 from 2]
Conversions: Jamie Devlin [1 from 1]St Michael’s scorers:

Tries: Lee Barron, Scott Penny, Chris Cosgrave
Penalties: David Ryan [2 from 2]
Conversions: David Ryan [2 from 2], Chris Cosgrave [0 from 1]

TERENURE COLLEGE: 15. Sam Dardis, 14. Luke Murnaghan, 13. Adam La Grue, 12. Jack Walsh, 11. Harry Boyden, 10. Jamie Devlin (captain), 9. George Morgan; 1. Levi Vaughan, 2. Ben Morris, 3. Sam McCoy, 4. Eoghan Doherty, 5. Aaron Deegan, 6. Jack Townsend, 7. Jack Cooke, 8. Conor Shenton.

Replacements: 16. Adam Dunne, 17. Sean Daly, 18. Mark Curley, 19. Tom Cadell, 20. Paddy Heneghan, 21. Matthew O’Shea, 22. Henry Roberts, 23. Luke Grady.

ST MICHAEL’S COLLEGE: 15. Mark O’Brien, 14. Jeff O’Loughlin, 13. Chris Cosgrave, 12. David Ryan (captain), 11. Andrew Smith, 10. Jay Barron, 9. Rob Gilsenan; 1. Jack Boyle, 2. Lee Barron, 3. Chris Hennessy, 4. Matthew Healy, 5. Ryan Baird, 6. Jody Booth, 7. Scott Penny, 8. Dan O’Donovan.

Replacements: 16. Pierce Feeney, 17. Adam Peat, 18. Fionn Finlay, 19. John Fish, 20. Mark Hernan, 21. Des McCarthy, 22. Niall Carroll, 23. Ed Kelly.

Referee: Marcus Casey.

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