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murray favourites gonzaga secure a 'knock-out clash

GONZAGA COLLEGE 17

CUS 5

Gonzaga College will have to deal with a swift six-day turnaround before dealing with a powerful Castleknock College in the Leinster Schools Senior Cup first round next Tuesday.

That is one of two rewards for earning one of the four qualifying spots from this Vinnie Murray Cup quarter-final beating of a battling CUS at Stradbrook. The other, of course, is a seat at the semi-final table in the second tier competition for which, by the way, they are outright favourites.

It was clear from the first two minutes that Gonzaga would look to move everything through their Ireland U19 Schools outside centre Daniel Diviney.

He fielded the kick-off, surged down the right, sent Jack Fitzpatrick through a gap in midfield and, finally drew in defenders to release right wing Richard Lenehan for the opening try for inside centre Stephen Murphy to convert from the left.

When 'Zaga lock Hugo Mays illegally came through on scrum-half James O'Donoghue at a ruck, CUS centre David Beakey could not find the range into the breeze. Murphy encountered the same problem from near the 40-metre line.

The sight of Diviney on the rampage again was quelled when full-back Colm Driver took him down. But, the cracks were there for others to see and left wing Sean Murphy glided in off his right foot to make 12-0 in the 17th minute.

There was little CUS could do to stem the flow of play, despite the best efforts of lock Mark Daly, their captain, number eight Ryan Sheady and centre Beakey.

Full-back Fitzpatrick was picking his moments beautifully to come into the line. He was largely undetected until he had blown a hole in the losers first line of defence.

For all that, CUS were stealing ball, or forcing penalties, at the breakdown where openside Phoenix Arkins seemed to be able to take possession away from Gonzaga at will. There were also signs of light. Mark Darby burst out of defence on a lone-ranger counter ended by Fitzpatrick's textbook tackle.

The pattern continued when CUS tight-head Tadhg Daly expertly nicked the ball in contact for a gain of yards. The problem was they didn't have the runners available to cause the necessary damage.

There was almost joy from a slick move at the front of a lineout, following a superb angled kick from out-half Mark Synnott. Sadly, a telegraphed pass into midfield was all the encouragement Stephen Murphy needed to intercept.

A clinical passage of hard-running, good passing and solid decision- making from Diviney, Lenehan, blindside Patrick Lavelle and out-half Mark McPhillips gave Sean Murphy the space he required to stretch for the line in the 51st minute.

By then, it was a lost cause for the Leeson Street school. Nonetheless, they struck back when a lineout was driven into the right corner for their captain Darby to clutch it tight on the floor.

Gonzaga College: J Fitzpatrick; R Lenehan, D Diviney, Stephen Murphy, Sean Murphy; M McPhillips, H Byrne (capt); C Murray, C Coburn, K Hargaden, C O'Leary, H Mays, P Lavelle, O O'Cleirigh, D Seaver-O'Leary. Replacements: J McDowell for Hargaden 52 mins; A Deeney for Mays 61 mins; A McEvoy for McPhillips 64 mins; C McDowell for Coburn 65 mins; A O'Reilly for Lavelle, C O'Brolchain for Byrne 66 mins; M Fitzpatrick for Lenehan 68 mins.

CUS: C Driver; S Bodkin, J McAlister, D Beakey, M Waters; M Synnott, J O'Donoghue; A McCreevey, R Farrington, T Doyle, J Lindsay, M Darby (capt), P Arkins, C O'Connor, R Sheady. Replacements: B Keelan for Farrington 46 mins; J Bodkin for Arkins 55 mins; T Foster for McCreevey 65 mins; B Kiely for Synnott 67 mins.

Referee: D Blake, Leinster Branch.