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Huge ask for St Michael's to KO 'Rock

St Michael's has suffered the heartbreak of four successive Powerade Leinster Junior Cup final defeats, the first to this Sunday's Holy Ghost sister school, Blackrock, in 2007.

The Ailesbury Road school fell a long way behind (20-3) to Newbridge in their semi-final last Sunday.

At that point, three minutes into the second period, there only looked to be one winner.

DEEP

To their credit, they mounted a super-brave comeback which culminated with out-half Matthew Gilsenan converting his own try in injury-time to dig them out of a deep hole (27-23).

The problem is that Blackrock showed none of the naivety or foot-off-the-pedal rugby shown by Newbridge that enabled St Michael's to re-establish a foothold in the second semi-final.

Admittedly, on reputation alone, there was never going to be more than a score between Blackrock and Clongowes Wood (22-21) in the other semi-final in what must rank as one of the best Junior Cup matches in recent years.

'Rock were taken right to the edge of defeat by Clongowes in what was nothing short of a classic. It could have gone either way.

Ultimately, the sheer extra poundage of the 'Rock pack, especially their back row big boys of Oliver Jager and captain Nicholas Timoney, and the dynamic running of full-back Zach O'Hagan were all difficult weapons to withstand.

The chink of light for St Michael's could come at half-back where Blackrock has employed the sweet distribution skills of Tristan Brady and Jack Power to tweak their attack.

They are a diminutive pair of footballers, well-protected by their back row.

If St Michael's can win enough ball and send the back row, led by number eight Max Deegan, sizeable Gilsenan and their hard-running centres Oisin O'Meara and Adam Leavy, their way, it could create momentum for those on the outside.

Verdict: Blackrock

Blackrock College (Possible): Z O'Hagan; J Redmond, J O'Hehir, I Kinsley, D Coughlan; J Power, T Brady; S Lynch, G Moylan, E Holland, J Dwan, D O'Connor, O Jager, E Fanning, N Timoney (capt).

St Michael's College (Possible): G Duffy; K Victory, A Leavy, O O'Meara, W Butler; M Gilsenan, S Smith; O Joyce, J O'Connell, H Redmond, C Cregan (capt), J Ryan, A Penny, C McGettigan, M Deegan.