herald

Monday 18 December 2017

Ros' finally break their losing run

cistercian roscrea 18 belvedere college 11

rugby: leinster senior cup Final

HEARTS were broken and made whole as Cistercian College Roscrea reached the Promised Land on that rectangle field just off Anglesea Road.

They first came calling on the final day in 1910 when it took Blackrock, in a 6-3 replay, to turn them away.

Newbridge were next to slam the door in their faces in 1941, in yet another replay, 9-3 that time.

Roscrea never entered the engravers mind again until the spring of 1999 when Gavin Duffy's friends fell 17-9 to Blackrock. This was followed by a 46-15 trouncing to an outstanding Clongowes Wood in 2011.

CLOSER

The closer they got the further away the Senior Cup seemed to be.

So much of life outside these innocent, exciting years is about timing.

This Roscrea outfit did not compare with the side of 2013, so cruelly exposed for lack of depth by Blackrock's bench.

It did not have as many big game names, like Ireland U20s Seán O'Brien, Ciarán Gaffney, Oisín Heffernan, Rory Moloney and Jacob Walshe.

What they did have was the fortune to take part in a year when the collective outshone all else.

And they had in second row Dan Trayers and wings Tim Carroll and Robert Wharton three central players who had been there when 'Rock launched their comeback to snatch the 2013 semi-final. In a school numbering a touch under 180, the lack of depth that hurt them so badly made this lot tighter than a well-bound book.

They had simply had enough of the 'nearly days'.

It was the maul that had been their primary weapon of choice on their way, quite literally, through lowering the colours of Wesley (26-0), Blackrock (17-14) and Newbridge in a semi-final replay (20-19).

They showed so much more than that against a fine Belvedere side which married the silkiness of Newbridge with greater physical firepower.

Scrum-half Hugh O'Sullivan's fade away from number eight Tom de Jongh off a scrum opened the corridor for wing Seán Long to punch in his try ticket in the eighth minute.

The blows came thick and fast from there with Roscrea captain Tim Foley clipping three points, Trayers exploding off the rear of another scrum to slam down a try and Belvedere's Conor Jennings making it all-square at the interval.

Belvedere restarted the better for Jennings to shoot them 11-8 ahead on foot of the hard-charging Jesse Iredale.

BRILLIANCE

However, it was a piece of practised brilliance from the Roscrea backline that was decisive, Foley's miss-pass meant Carroll took the ball in his stride to slice open Belvedere College's defence and wing Daniel Keane had the wheels to drive it home for Foley to land a sensational conversion in the 47th minute.

This was improved by Foley's 55th minute penalty to set up a dramatic endgame in which replacement Brian Diffley's ankle-tap tackle on Max Kearney and Carroll's retrieval of a dangerously loose ball saved the day of all days.

CISTERCIAN COLLEGE ROSCREA: T Carroll; D Keane, R Wharton, T Foley (capt), J Murphy; A Tynan, K Kavanagh; L Walsh, E Maher, D Murphy; F Wycherley, A Browne; S Meagher, M Keane, D Trayers.

Replacements: B Diffley for S Meagher (41 mins), P Gavin for A Browne (64 mins), K Cahir for M Keane (68 mins).

BELVEDERE COLLEGE: E Cleere; S Long, J McKeown, D Monaghan, O McGrath; C Jennings, H O'Sullivan; M Sweeney (capt), A Hynes, E Molloy; J Kenny, B Egan; J Iredale, M Kearney, T de Jongh.

Replacements: R McCreevy for B Egan (30 min mins), S McNulty for J Kenny, G O'Kelly for O McGrath (both 51 mins), D McCaffrey for A Hynes, H Sexton for J McKeown (both 57 mins), J Clarke for E Molloy (67 mins).

Referee: D Phillips (ARLB).

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