Rugby: Terenure emphatic
TERENURE COLLEGE 31 ST MICHAEL'S COLLEGE 9
Although brave and committed, Saints are condemned to their fourth straight Junior Cup defeat by holders
It was all there in the emphatic nature of Terenure's first blow to the solar plexus of a St Michael's side on the way to their fourth straight Leinster Junior Cup final defeat.
First, St Michael's opened confidently, protecting the ball well, finding runners on the front foot and making metres through the middle. They played it smart enough to draw the penalty for their calm out-half Ross Byrne to kick a straight-forward penalty in the third minute.
This merely triggered the ultra-competitive streak of the defending champions. Centre Hilary Nwankwo pumped his legs for profit. The recycle came quick and clean. The ball fizzed along the three-quarter line.
When there was no obvious way around the problem posed by the St Michael's defence, No8 Harrison Brewer and prop Silvio Borza both had a pop at the line before scrum-half Gary Clarkin forced the issue for the opening try. It was converted by centre Stephen O'Neill.
And so it went. Terenure mixed and mismatched their way through and around a committed St Michael's defence who were brave beyond the call of duty.
The alert Clarkin benefited from hooker Jody Carroll's quick throw to the front of a lineout to flirt with the touchline on his way to out-muscling wing Dan Green and his opposite number Nick McCarthy in a perfect blend of quick-thinking and powerful running.
It must have been sickening for St Michael's to see O'Neill stroke the conversion from the touchline, to make it 14-3 midway into the half, in the same way Scotland's Dan Parks deflated Ireland at Croke Park.
Indeed, there was something of the Munster killer instinct in the way 'Nure captain Rob Somerville passed up the opportunity for three almost certain points for O'Neill by going for a textbook tap penalty move.
Clarkin moved the ball to tight-head Silvio Borza, who screened it for No8 Harrison Brewer to take it at a gallop for the third try and a match-winning 21-3 in the 25th minute.
Normally it would not be beyond the bounds of possibility for a team to recover from such a start. But this was no ordinary Terenure team. They were in control and in the mood to make it a miserable day for St Michael's.
However, the Ailesbury Road boys were determined to go out on their shields. They never shirked a tackle or dipped in their intensity.
Captain Byrne, centre Alex Comerford, No8 Conor Duffy, lock Stephen Harold and hooker Richie Allen all put their shoulders to the wheel.
They began the second-half as they had the first, making ground up the right to trigger a penalty which Byrne blasted between the sticks. They were defiant and dedicated to their principles on how to play the game.
This positive mental and physical attitude brought them a third penalty from Byrne to leave it 21-9 in the 47th minute.
Then Brewer showed the perfect timing to affect the game, which has been his hallmark in the last two seasons at this level. His break carved out an opening for left-wing Neil O'Connor to wheel around the outside of the St Michael's cover for the fourth try.
The celebrations had already begun on the sideline when Brewer saw fit to close the game out by diving in from close range for the last act of the match.
SCORERS -- Terenure College: G Clarkin, H Brewer 2 tries each; N O'Connor try; S O'Neill 3 cons. St Michael's: R Byrne 3 pens.
Terenure College: R Church; T O'Brien, S O'Neill, H Nwankwo, N O'Connor; J Lynch, G Clarkin; K Colgan, J Carroll, S Borza, M Murphy, R Somerville (capt), N O'Sullivan, P Thornton, H Brewer. Replacements: A Hyland for O'Brien 68, J McCormack for O'Connor 68, R Murphy for Clarkin 68, T Creagh for Colgan 68, C Dignam for Carroll, E Haddock for Murphy 68, S Caffrey for O'Sullivan 68.
St Michael's College: C Kelleher; D Greene, A Comerford, M O'Keefe, A Leavy; R Byrne (capt), N McCarthy; D Gibbons, R Allen, D Coulson, S Harold, R Moloney, J O'Connell, M Craig, C Duffy. Replacements: G Morgan for O'Keefe 26, J Murphy for R Moloney 26, G Keane for Murphy 34, L Martin for McCarthy 32, S Mosnier for Allen 55, N Quane for Gibbons 56.
Referee: J Montayne, Leinster Branch.