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Coach Smyth hails resilience of Blackrock

FULL-BACK Jack Power ensured that his name is firmly etched in Leinster Schools Senior Cup history as his tremendous converted try in the 64th minute at a breezy RDS on Monday afternoon ensured that Blackrock College sealed their 67th SCT title in a thrilling 23-20 victory over reigning champions St Michael's College.

Blackrock coach Peter Smyth was thrilled with the resolve and character shown by his squad in achieving their desired result, which he felt epitomised the way they have been performing throughout the campaign.

Snuck

"We came back well, snuck a try at the end a bit like the semi-final (against Cistercian College Roscrea). The lads were brilliant and they kept going," Smyth remarked.

"At 16-7, I thought we were comfortable. Obviously, I think they could have scored 13 unanswered points and they looked at one stage like they'd done enough, but the lads have had great resolve all year. They've been coming back all year."

The 10th-minute injury to right-wing Zack O'Hagan was certainly a disruption for the Williamstown school, but Smyth has emphasised the importance of the squad during the year, and it showed once again against Michael's.

"He (O'Hagan) carried a hamstring into the match, and he seemed to have gotten over that. It went early, but we've been about a squad all year and the boys that came in off the bench have been great.

"You need a big squad. We've 23, and we've another 10 guys in behind them pushing all those guys. So, it's good for everyone in the squad."

With 66 titles already to their name before kick-off, Blackrock's place at the top of the roll of honour was already well cemented, but Smyth feels that it has been harder to win the competition in the professional era, which makes their victory over Michael's all the more worthwhile.

"In fairness, since the game went professional in 1995, they've been a lot harder to win. I think a lot of those 67 were won maybe in the 30s, 40s and 50s. To win one now is obviously a very difficult thing to do, so we're delighted. Sixty-seven is just a number, for these guys it's the very first one."

Modern

Future provincial and international stars like Brian O'Driscoll, Luke Fitzgerald and Ian Madigan have passed through the halls of Blackrock in modern times, however, and Smyth (who coached St Mary's College to an Ulster Bank League title last April) hopes that the high standard of this year's Senior Cup will stand to his players in the years to come.

"They've just been brilliant. This Leinster Senior Cup has been a great competition. There has been some great games and the standard has been right up there. If some of our guys push through after that we'll be delighted for them," Smyth added.


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