Hot favourites Clongowes Wood College completed back-to-back titles for the first time in their history as they ran out worthy 46-15 winners over Cistercian Roscrea in the Powerade Leinster Schools Senior Cup final at The RDS yesterday.
The country cousins -- these are two of the three full-time Catholic boarding schools left in Ireland -- went at it hammer-and-tongs in a no-holds-barred physical encounter that matched the muscle and cuteness of the holders against the wide-ranging, counter punching of the Offaly school with the Tipperary address.
The champions came through the stronger section of the draw and it showed in their readiness for the battle. Their back row, led by captain Conor Gilsenan, Nicholas McCarthy and number eight Jordan Coghlan, wreaked havoc in the march to a ninth title.
Roscrea must wait for their first crown after their third final defeat (1999 & 1941). They came in under the radar with a mobile set of light forwards keen to make the most of their strike runners Conor Finn and Shane Layden, in the centre, and full-back Phillip O'Dwyer.
Roscrea had to make a strong start to make a game of it. They couldn't do that. Scrum-half Conor McQuaid pinched the first try, fly-half David Quirke the second and flanker McCarthy the third, all converted by Conor Mahony for a 21-0 lead by the 32nd minute.
Left wing Mahony's penalty was the cherry on top of the cake as Clongowes held an unassailable 24-0 lead at the interval.
The undeniable truth was that Clongowes held supremacy everywhere as Roscrea battled in vain to stem the tide of possession and territory.
On resumption, Roscrea out-half Bill Duggan struck a penalty before Clongowes number eight Coghlan's strength in the tackle proved too much for a wilting Roscrea defence. Mahony converted and added a try in the left corner following consultation with the video referee.
From there, the losers responded with typical vigour. Lock Rory Moloney found the try line for Duggan to convert for a 36-10 deficit. Then, Quirke danced his way to the line just past the hour mark, Mahony converting and kicking a penalty before Roscrea replacement Jack O'Driscoll drove to the corner for a consolation try.
Clongowes Wood College: H Burns; G Murray, J Glynn, C Joyce, C Mahony; D Quirke, C McQuaid; G Frayne, B Byrne, E Byrne, B Phelan, T Byrne, N McCarthy, C Gilsenan (capt), J Coghlan. Replacements: P Timmins for Phelan (45); M McFarland for McQuaid (46); D Kennedy for McCarthy (53); T Collis for Frayne (56); S Fromm for Glynn (57); D O'Byrne for E Byrne (61); B Grehan for Coghlan (64).
Cistercian College, Roscrea: P O'Dwyer; C Brennan, S Layden, C Finn (capt), M Mellotte; B Duggan, G Gallagher; G Fallon, D O'Dwyer, C Farrell, A McGrath, R Moloney, A Henderson, E Quirke, C Moloney. Replacements: O Heffernan for Fallon, R Mooney for Quirke (both 46); J Fitzpatrick for R Moloney (60); S Moran for Farrell (62); J O'Driscoll for Mellotte (65); A Wheatley for Henderson (66); M Fitzgerald for Brennan (67).
Referee: K Beggs, Leinster Branch.