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League winners St Gerard’s lay down Cup credentials in defeat of St Fintan’s

St Gerard’s 23 St Fintan’s High School 7 ST GERARD’S SAFELY advanced to the next phase of the Leinster Senior Schools Cup with a comprehensive opening round success over St Fintan’s High School at Donnybrook this afternoon. A third-minute try by Darragh Kelly helped Fintan’s to make a dream start to the contest, but with Oliver Haydock and Ethan Baxter in sparkling form, Gerard’s ultimately progressed in convincing fashion. Kelly returned from the Sutton school’s agonising 31-29 defeat to Clongowes Wood College at the same stage last year, and following an early driving maul towards the Gerard’s line, he had a simple finish in the left-corner. Frank O’Dea brilliantly converted from the touchline to stretch the Fintan’s lead to seven points. However, by the 14th minute of the opening half, Leinster Senior League champions Gerard’s had got themselves back on level terms. After an attempted clearance by Fintan’s was charged down, Gerard’s skipper Ethan Baxter crossed over with relative ease — and Oliver Haydock supplied the extras. The sin-binning of Kelly for a high-tackle on David O’Brien subsequently handed the initiative to Gerard’s in the closing stages of the half, and a lengthy period of attacking pressure ended with number eight Rory Wilson diving over for an unconverted try. This offered the north Wicklow school a 12-7 interval lead, which was extended to eight points courtesy of a superb Haydock penalty just after the restart. After a promising opening to the action, Fintan’s hopes of reaching the last-eight for the very first time were beginning to fade. Rory Wilson of St Gerard’s. They continued to persevere with their challenge, but heading into the final quarter, another routine Haydock place-kick had given Gerard’s a commanding cushion. Jason Emery’s side were now playing with supreme confidence, and they rounded off an emphatic performance with a Morgan Freeley try six minutes from the end. Meanwhile, in the day’s other first round game, eight-time winners Clongowes booked their place in Friday’s quarter-final draw with a 29-21 win over The King’s Hospital at Clontarf RFC. St Gerard’s scorers: Tries: Ethan Baxter, Rory Wilson, Morgan Freeley Penalties: Oliver Haydock [2 from 2] Conversions: Oliver Haydock [1 from 3]St Fintan’s scorers: Tries: Darragh Kelly Conversions: gpfoto 30Frank O’Dea [1 from 1]

ST GERARD’S: 15. Max O’Reilly; 14. Paddy Opperman, 13. Oliver Haydock, 12. Cormac Foley, 11. Morgan Freeley; 10. David O’Brien, 9. Jack O Caoimh; 1. David Carroll, 2. Robert Byrne, 3. Adam O’Reilly, 4. Donal Ahern, 5. Daniel McGovern, 6. Charles Byrne, 7. Ethan Baxter (captain), 8. Rory Wilson. Replacements: 16. Jack Dempsey, 17. Isaac Philips, 18. Luke Concannon, 19. Thomas Cahill-Hannigan, 20. Ben Watson, 21. Jack Kennedy, 22. Conor Diamond, 23. Marc Finn.

Blackrock College avoid quarter-final upset thanks to late drop-goal

St Gerard’s of Bray were on the verge of a major shock but ultimately missed out on a semi-final spot. Feb 18th 2018, Celebrations for Blackrock College at the final whistle. Blackrock College 19 St Gerard’s School 17 A MAJOR SHOCK was on the cards for the majority of this absorbing encounter at Donnybrook Stadium, but following a superb 62nd-minute drop-goal by Stephen Madigan, Blackrock College edged past St Gerard’s School, Bray in the quarter-final of the Leinster Schools Senior Cup. The 68-time champions were staring defeat in the face when they trailed 14-3 at the break, after Oliver Haydock and Cormac Foley had both crossed over for Gerard’s. The north Wicklow boys remained in the ascendancy at the beginning of the final-quarter, before Madigan’s try offered Blackrock a new lease of life. They gradually increased the pressure on Gerard’s as the final whistle approached, and Tarrant’s timely intervention ensured that they ultimately booked their place in the last-four. Gerard’s were viewed as rank outsiders heading into for this encounter. However, with Leinster underage star Ethan Baxter and hooker Robert Byrne driving forward at will, they deservedly took the lead in the 15th-minute. After he picked up possession five metres from the Blackrock line, outside centre Haydock grounded the ball against the padding for a deadlock-breaking score — which he also converted.

It was expected that this would be a wake-up call for ‘Rock — whose most recent Senior Cup success was back in 2014 — but they instead fell further behind just shy of the halfhour mark. After catching his own chipped kick close to the ‘Rock posts, Foley touched down beyond the whitewash in spectacular style. Another bonus strike by his midfield partner stretched the Gerard’s advantage to all 14 points — although their opponents finally opened their account through a Tarrant penalty at the tail end of the half. A reinvigorated ‘Rock cut the gap to five points just after the resumption with a brace of successful place-kicks by the reliable Tarrant, and subsequently gained a temporary numerical advantage when Gerard’s full-back Max O’Reilly was sent to the sin-bin. Gerard’s responded well in his absence, though, and Haydock’s coolly-converted penalty on 45 minutes helped them to settle back into the proceedings. By the time of O’Reilly’s return, ‘Rock were still searching for a way through a stubborn opposition defence. Dejection after the game for Charles Byrne of . Their persistence eventually paid off in the form of a Madigan try in the left-corner, following excellent approach work from Tarrant and replacement scrum-half Louis O’Reilly. Madigan’s outstanding touchline conversion cut the gap to the bare minimum (17-16), setting the game up for a grandstand finale in the process. With the clock moving beyond 60 minutes, ‘Rock established territory deep inside the Gerard’s half. This allowed Tarrant to move back into pocket, and he split the posts from outside the ’22’ to edge his side in front for the very first time. This was a cruel blow for a Gerard’s team that secured the Leinster Senior League crown back in December, but at the end of a compelling battle, it was Blackrock who prevailed. Blackrock College scorers Tries: Stephen Madigan Penalties: James Tarrant [3 from 3] Conversions: Stephen Madigan [1 from 1] Drop-goal: Stephen Madigan [1 from 1] St Gerard’s College scorers Tries: Oliver Haydock, Cormac Foley Penalties: Oliver Haydock [1 from 1] Conversions: Oliver Haydock [2 from 2] BLACKROCK COLLEGE: 15. Stephen Madigan; 14. Rory Madigan (22. Gavin Jones 16’-23’), 13. Liam Turner (captain), 12. Tom Maher, 11. Harry Donnelly; 10. James Tarrant, 9. Ross

Barron; 1. Hugo O’Malley (17. Cian Duffy 43’), 2. Sean Molony, 3. Thomas Clarkson, 4. Sean O’Brien, 5. Jack Stapleton, 6. Josh Dixon, 7. Jack Loscher, 8. Michael McGagh. ST GERARD’S COLLEGE: 15. Max O’Reilly; 14. Morgan Freeley, 13. Oliver Haydock, 12. Cormac Foley, 11. Paddy Opperman; 10. David O’Brien (22. Ben Watson 63’), 9. Jack O Caoimh; 1. David Carroll, 2. Robert Byrne, 3. Adam O’Reilly, 4. Donal Ahern (7. Ethan Baxter 68’), 5. Daniel McGovern, 6. Charles Byrne, 7. Ethan Baxter (captain) (20. Thomas Cahill-Hannigan 61’), 8. Rory Wilson (4. Donal Ahern 69’). Referee: Brian MacNiece (Leinster Rugby Referees).


February 19, 2018 / 11:04 am Blackrock College had to dig very deep against St Gerard’s School, coming from behind to claim a place in the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-finals at Donnybrook yesterday. St Gerard’s, the Senior Schools League winners, had built their game from the confidence of winning this season. They had to start well and the kick off from Cormac Foley was dropped forward, the mistake repaired with Michael McGagh’s poach for out-half James Tarrant to kick ‘Rock out of trouble. The Blackrock maul was good for 20 metres and scrum-half Ross Barron’s up-and-under was converted into a lineout by wing Rory Madigan’s follow-up hit. Then, the ‘Rock scrum forced the issue before St Gerard’s outhalf David O’Brien cleared his lines. Captain Ethan Baxter pinched the ball on the floor, Blackrock went off their feet and centre Foley launched a penalty as far as the five-metre line. Flanker Baxter and hooker Robert Byrne went close before ‘Rock’s defence, led by Liam Turner, turned up the heat to force the ball into touch. A grubber through from Foley forced Stephen Madigan to scurry across to concede a lineout. They secured the ball and centre Oliver Haydock was twice involved, grounding the ball against the base of the post for a clinical try, converted by Haydock in the 15th minute. It was just what the game needed, more specifically, what St Gerard’s needed. Even when their exit from deep faltered, Baxter was there to seize on a loose ball after Michael McGagh’s drive off the back of a scrum. The 50-50 contests were being won by St Gerard’s with Baxter into everything and prop Adam O’Reilly somehow

nicking the ball from a maul. It was that man Baxter, who took the ball away from ‘Rock prop Thomas Clarkson to continue to stymie the Williamstown school. An overthrown lineout put the flying Baxter on the ball and once in behind, they were patient in their probing for Foley to chip over the defence from no more than eight metres out and collect for a stunning second try, Haydock converting for 14-0 on the half hour. Blackrock needed some encouragement and they found it from Tarrant’s penalty in the 33rd minute for not rolling away at a ruck. The Bray school was not content to just hold the line, Foley powering forward with assistance from number eight Rory Wilson as the half came to a close. Blackrock came out with greater urgency for centre Tom Maher to hurtle up the middle and hooker Sean Molony to hammer forward. The pressure was good enough to squeeze a penalty for Tarrant to narrow the gap in the 38th minute. The tide of territory was starting to turn, Blackrock lock Jack Stapleton claiming a lineout for Harry Donnelly to eat up the ground. St Gerard’s full-back Max O’Reilly’s deliberate knockon drew a yellow card and resulted in Tarrant’s third penalty in the 42nd minute. There was an imme diate response when ‘Rock lost their discipline at a ruck and Haydock stepped up to split the posts for 17-9 in the 44th minute.

Then, Tarrant kicked the ball direct to touch from the restart only for the Gerard’s scrum to buckle under pressure. It was hectic stuff as Blackrock looked to turn the screw and

Foley tackled replacement Cian Duffy and prop David Carroll stripped the ball away from Liam Turner. Baxter’s canny ability to pick up the pieces and Foley’s knack for putting Paddy Opperman away looked ominous before the move broke down. Blackrock came down the left where Foley was back in position to tidy up a bobbling ball. Still, their scrum and lineout were providing a platform, the latter rolling forward for more than 20 metres to set up a sweep to the left where full-back Stephen Madigan strolled home and converted from wide to make it a one-point game in the 55th minute. However, St Gerard’s stayed in the fight through their awesome front-foot defence to force a penalty which Foley posted to touch. They just couldn’t control the ball around the fringes and ‘Rock broke out of defence for Tarrant to clip a drop goal for the lead for the first time in the 62nd minute. Just as their maul looked to be on the march again, St Gerard’s prop Carroll ripped the ball away for a miracle turnover. The next time, there was no escape as Wilson was binned for bringing down the maul and Tarrant went for the corner rather than the points, kicking the ball into the dead ball area. St Gerard’s had one more chance from deep which they couldn’t pull off to bring to an end a gripping game. At Donnybrook – Blackrock College 19 (S Madigan try, dg, con; J Tarrant 3 pens); St Gerard’s School 17 (O Haydock try, pen, 2 cons; C Foley try) Blackrock: Stephen Madigan; Rory Madigan, Liam Turner (capt), Tom Maher, Harry Donnelly; James Tarrant, Ross Barron; Hugo O’Malley, Sean Molony, Thomas Clarkson, Sean O’Brien, Jack Stapleton, Josh Dixon, Josh Loscher, Michael McGagh. Replacements: Gavin Jones for R Madigan 15mins – temp; Cian Duffy for O’Malley, Louis O’Reilly for Barron both 43mins. St Gerard’s: Max O’Reilly; Paddy Opperman, Oliver Haydock, Cormac Foley, Morgan Freeley; David O’Brien, Jack O’Caoimh; Adam O’Reilly, Robert Byrne, David Carroll, Donal Ahern, Daniel McGovern, Charles Byrne, Ethan Baxter (capt), Rory Wilson. Replacements: T Cahill-Hannigan for Baxter 60mins; Conor Diamond or O’Brien 62mins; Ethan Baxter for Ahern 67mins.

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