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The class of 2018: Belvo bid for three-in-a-row as Leinster Schools Senior Cup returns This year’s competition gets underway tomorrow. Jan 27th 2018, THE SERIOUS BUSINESS begins now. In no other sport does a breeding ground quite like the Leinster Schools Senior Cup exist, and as this year’s edition of the competition gets underway, the pathway for the class of 2018 has never been more defined.

Belvedere College will be the team to beat again this yea Belvedere College, the defending champions, begin their quest for three-in-a-row against Gonzaga College in an opening fixture which marks the beginning of the show-piece event of the schools rugby season. The action is already underway in Munster, Ulster and Connacht and over the course of the next two months, the next generation of stars across all four provinces are given a platform to exhibit their ability and make a name for themselves. Just as importantly, however, is the competition’s facility to provide a stage for young players to learn, grow and develop, while also producing some enthralling, free-flowing rugby which seems to get better which

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each passing year. Standout players from 2017 are already making strides in the Leinster academy, most notably former St Fintan’s prop Jack Aungier and Belvo’s fullback Hugh O’Sullivan, both of whom are also involved with the Ireland U20s this year. They’re just two of countless examples from recent times, see also Jordan Larmour’s extraordinary rise from gracing this competition in St Andrew’s College colours just two years ago. A natural passageway to the professional game exists. 2017 was the year of black and white again, and certainly Belvo will be the team to beat once more. Phil Werahiko has enlisted the help of previous winners Brian Egan, last year’s captain Max Kearney and O’Sullivan as part of his coaching set-up, while 16 of their squad were involved last term. Out-half David Hawkshaw, who led Leinster U19 to inter-pro success, skippers Belvo while number eight Ruadhan Byron is likely to be another key figure in the Northside school’s title defence. Belvo’s credentials are likely to be tested straight away as they face last year’s semi-finalists Gonzaga in what promises to be a pulsating first round tie at Donnybrook on Sunday [KO 3pm]. “Our lads have been looking forward to this for a while now and are really looking forward to facing up to the challenge from a well prepared and talented Gonzaga team,” head coach Werahiko said.

David Hawkshaw captains Belvo in 2018. “We are well aware of the strengths they possess and have had to prepare accordingly, for what we expect to be a full on first round battle.” Gonzaga enjoyed a memorable run to the last four in 2017 and picked up a head of steam before Christmas by progressing to the league final, only to lose by five points to St Gerard’s in the decider. ‘Zaga’s devastating backline and running game was a hallmark of their campaign last year, and centres Brian O’Donnell and Eoin Barr will again provide a threat outside a powerful pack led by captain Robbie Kidney. Monday sees the tie of the round down for decision, as two heavyweights in the form of Terenure College and St Michael’s College collide. 10-time winners Terenure have 16 players back from last year and will be looking to build on their quarter-final exit to Blackrock with Leinster underage representatives Sam Dardis, Ross McInnes, Jack Cooke and Adam La Grue making John Coffey’s side a dangerous proposition. St Michael’s are fully aware of the challenge awaiting them as they look to lift the Senior Cup for the third time and first since 2012. There are exciting prospects in their panel, too, most notably second row Ryan Baird, back row Scott Penny and centre David Ryan who have all represented Leinster and Ireland. “We have a very competitive squad which has made selecting the strongest team very challenging, many more than 15 would do a great job,” Michael’s head coach Emmet MacMahon says. “We are not looking any further than the first round and Terenure College, as they are a brilliant side with great coaches and a school nearly twice our size. If we win that game we will have done very well.”


While Belvo are the favourites, many people will be keeping a close eye on Blackrock College, the competition’s protagonists with a record 68 titles, as they look to end their Senior Cup drought. Beaten in last year’s decider at the RDS, Blackrock are fully locked and loaded for another tilt in 2018 and are led by Ireland schools centre Liam Turner, while Tom Maher, props Cian Duffy and Thomas Clarkson, hooker Sean Molony, lock James Burke and flanker Michael McGagh are all back and no doubt keen to go one step further this time around.

Tom Maher will be a key player for Blackrock again. Their first assignment is by no means a straightforward one as Castleknock eye a first round upset while Presentation College Bray and Newbridge College both enter the competition on Wednesday as dark horses following strong league campaigns. On Thursday, eir Sport will televise their first game of the year as St Gerard’s College meet St Fintan’s High School while in Clontarf RFC, Clongowes Wood will be the favourites to overcome The King’s Hospital. St Gerard’s are certainly a team to watch after storming to league success before the turn of the year and in scrum-half Cormac Foley — capped at Ireland U18

level — have one of the outstanding young talents in the country. Captain Ethan Baxter, Charles Byrne, Ben Watson and Max O’Reilly are all players to watch out for but Jason Emery’s men will be under no illusions of the challenge Fintan’s pose, with the Sutton school back for a second-ever appearance at this level after last year’s heroics. In addition to Thursday’s clash, eir Sport will broadcast live coverage of all four quarter-finals, the semi-finals and the St Patrick’s Day decider at the RDS, while the channel will also show the Munster Senior Cup final from Thomond Park. The final day of first round ties sees a fascinating double-header as St Mary’s College — tipped by many this year — meet St Andrew’s while Vinnie Murray Cup qualifiers Wesley College face 2015 winners Roscrea, who must be considered front-runners once again. Rathmines school Mary’s have Leinster talent in their ranks in Adam McEvoy and Niall Hurley and the fivetime winners will be favourites to get past Andrew’s, but Ian Dumbleton’s side have enjoyed a resurgence of their own in recent years. Having advanced to the semi-finals in 2014, the Booterstown school haven’t been able to rich those dizzy heights since but three first round exits doesn’t really reflect the potential they possess.

Jordan Larmour has been part of the St Andrew’s coaching staff. Larmour and Andrew Porter — both of whom could be in Paris next Friday — have been back to their alma mater to aid preparations and Andrew’s will be targeting an early upset. “As a senior cup squad we embrace the challenge ahead,” Dumbleton said. “This is an opportunity to test ourselves against the top teams and our aim is to ensure we challenge our opposition and give a positive account of St Andrew’s College rugby.” May the best team win.

Leinster Senior Schools Cup fixtures: All 3pm kicks off at Donnybrook, unless otherwise stated Sunday 28 January: • Belvedere College v Gonzaga College Monday 29 January: • Terenure College v St Michael’s College Tuesday 30 January: • Blackrock College v Castleknock College Wednesday 31 January: • Newbridge College v Presentation College Bray Thursday 1 February: • Clongowes Wood College v The King’s Hospital, Clontarf RFC • St Fintan’s High School v St Gerard’s School Friday 2 February: • St Mary’s College v St Andrew’s College • Wesley College v Cistercian College Roscrea, Clontarf RFC

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CBC MONKSTOWN, WESLEY COLLEGE AND KILKENNY COLLEGE ADVANCE IN VINNIE MURRAY CUP January 11, 2018

CBC Monkstown put seven tries on scoreless Wilson’s Hospital (43-0) in the first of a Bank of Ireland Vinnie Murray Senior Cup first round double header at Donnybrook on Wednesday. They were moving at more than a point a minute when leading by 24 through tries from right wing Theo Brady, full-back Harry Shaw, prop Tadhg St Ledger-Quinn and a stunning individual effort from flanker Niall Scully. There was a gap in class but not in commitment as Wilson’s captain William Ashmore and flanker Alex Kenny flew to the tackle and out-half Ryan McHugh bumped off defenders and kicked creatively. When Daniel Montayne was binned, it did open up space for Wilson’s to attack. They just couldn’t take full advantage. Shaw made it a double and in the 42nd minute replacements Jake Doherty and Eoghan Grehan completed the victory. In the second match-up, Wesley took time to shake off St Patrick’s, Navan, 29-12, eventually getting on top in the second-half. Initially, it looked like Wesley were going to put on a clinic from their two tries from props Peter Costello and Noah Young, the second converted by scrum-half Jack Atkinson, for 12-0 in the 15th minute. They had to think again when the Navan boys struck back in fine style, engineering tries for impressive full-back Cian McBride and prop Patrick McLoughlin, centre Ciaran Morgan’s extras making it a tied game at the interval. Wesley replacement Harry Fanning provided the spark for their third try and hooker Jamie Kavanagh added their fourth, for

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Atkinson to convert, for 24-12 in the 55th minute before centre Luke Fitzpatrick closed it out. The winners now move on to a quarter-final with Kilkenny College, who had it all their way in a 47-0 whitewash of Coláiste Bhride, from Carnew, at Co. Carlow FC. It was a bright display from out-half Craig Strong that guided the Marble City kids, providing 17 points, including one of the seven tries. There was a double from wing Matthew Hodgins and further tries by flanker Chris Reynolds, prop Adam Earle, winger William Seale and replacement Keegan Bradley.

2018 Bank of Ireland Vinnie Murray Cup – Fixtures & Results 1st Round 10th January Wilson’s Hospital School 0 CBC Monkstown Park 43 (Donnybrook Stadium) St Patrick’s Classical School, Navan 12 Wesley College 29 (Donnybrook Stadium) Coláiste Bhride, Carnew 0 Kilkenny College 47 (Co. Carlow FC) 11th January The High School v Mount Temple Comprehensive (Donnybrook Stadium, KO 2pm) CUS v Dundalk Grammar School (Ashbourne RFC, KO 2.30pm) Gorey Community School v The King’s Hospital (Greystones RFC, KO 2.30pm) Salesian College v Skerries Community College (Donnybrook Stadium, KO 4pm) WESLEY AND KING’S HOSPITAL REACH BANK OF IRELAND VINNIE MURRAY CUP FINAL January 25, 2018

Ian West was the star of the show with four tries as The King’s Hospital moved beyond Newpark 39-5 into the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Vinnie Murray Cup final at Donnybrook on Wednesday. KH almost got off to a the dream start when Zak Bursey and Jack Courtney work an opening for wing Ian West only for full-back Matthew Jungmann to put in a crucial tackle. The next time, they worked the extra man to make life easier for West to finish on the right in the fifth minute. Back came Newpark, loose forwards Oliver Flintcroft and Adam Faulkner prominent on the front-foot. Then, Hos’ centre Patrick O’Boy was binned for a high tackle on Jungmann. This did not make any difference as West hit the accelerator for the second try, converted by Patrick Hickey for 12-0 in as many minutes. Newpark rebounded impressively, right wing Jonah Rennicks streaking up the right and the three-quarters moving the ball left for wing Leon Gallagher to claim a stylish try in the 22nd minute. Offloading was the key to setting up West’s hat-trick before captain Zak Bursey’s breakout created the space for flanker Killian Smith to show his speed for the fourth try, West converting for 24-5 at the break. Newpark came out revived and played with width to stretch Hos’ to breaking point more than once. Out-half Jose Faria moved the ball sweetly to require last gasp defending from KH’s back three. The weight of possession meant a yellow card for flanker Smith as Newpark continued to probe without reward. As so often happens, the winners took all the blows and hit back with West’s fourth try in the right corner in the 59th minute, leaving Hos’ centre Craig Adams to pick up their fifth try late on. It took a 67th minute try from replacement Richie Johnston for Wesley College to overtake CBC Monkstown for a place in the final in the curtain-raiser. Wes’ controlled the game, for the most part, once they had recovered from a third minute try by Monkstown flanker Liam Forster. They wrestled away control of the game through scrum-half Jack Atkinson’s penalties in the 14th, 22nd and 33rd minutes for a 9-5


lead at the break. It swung the other way when CBC went through the phases for scrum-half Cian Tallon to slip inside a tackle for centre Cameron Watson to convert in the 50th minute. This is when Wesley showed their composure to hold onto the ball for Johnston to crash over on the left for Atkinson to add the extras, following it with a penalty in the 67th minute. Bank of Ireland Vinnie Murray Cup Semi-Final results CBC Monkstown 12 Wesley College 19 (KO 2pm, Donnybrook) Newpark Comprehensive 5 The King’s Hospital 39 (KO 4pm, Donnybrook) As Wesley College and The King’s Hospital have reached the Bank of Ireland Vinnie Murray Cup Final, both teams have qualified for the Bank of Ireland Leinster Schools Senior Cup 1st Round. CISTERCIAN COLLEGE ROSCREA DEFEAT WESLEY COLLEGE TO ADVANCE TO THE SECOND ROUND February 2, 2018

Cistercian College Roscrea advanced to the last-eight of the Bank of Ireland Leinster Senior Schools Cup after overcoming a stern challenge from Wesley College at Castle Avenue today. With three final appearances in this decade alone, Roscrea were always expected to progress from this opening round clash. However, with just 25 minutes remaining in the contest, they were facing into a two-point deficit (12-10). Roscrea enjoyed a dream start at the home of Clontarf FC. The Mount St Joseph Abbey outfit gained possession inside the Wesley half straight from the kick-off, and quickly spread the ball into a wide area. After lock David Maher picked him out with a neat pass, inside centre Diarmuid Kilgallon sprinted over the whitewash in fine style. Incredibly, there was just 23 seconds gone on the clock when Kilgallon touched down. His five-point-

er was supplemented by a conversion from Billy Foley (whose brother Tim was a key member of the winning senior team of 2015), as Roscrea looked set to take firm control of the proceedings.

Some handling errors allowed Wesley to establish territory as the half developed, though, and Roscrea suffered a temporary set-back in the 18th-minute. Following a high-tackle on Karl O’Connor, Cormac Izuchukwu was sent to the sin-bin. Wesley were aiming to take advantage of their numerical supremacy and their challenge finally came to life with the help of fly-half Gary Hawe. He picked up possession in a deep position on the right-hand side, before skipping past the retreating Roscrea defence to touch down in the far corner. The resulting Jack Atkinson bonus strike drifted away from the target, but now that they were up and running, Wesley had cause for optimism. Although they were struggling to build on their early promise, there was no reason for Roscrea to panic. A routine Foley penalty settled their nerves, and they led 10-5 at the break. They were expected to push on from this point, but just six minutes after the restart, their south Dublin counterparts moved into the ascendancy. A beautiful chipped kick by Hawe was touched down by Luke Fitzpatrick in the nick of time. Atkinson’s excellent two-pointer threw down the gauntlet to their opponents – who were knocked out by Gonzaga College in last year’s quarter-final. Tighthead prop Michael Milne (a survivor from their 2016 final loss to Belvedere) superbly guided Roscrea through a sticky spell however, and he released Corcoran for an unconverted finish on 45 minutes. A crunching tackle on Jamie Vard by Darragh Tynan also lifted the Roscrea crowd – who urged their team on during the final-quarter.

The Roscrea boys were beginning to dominate possession once again and they effectively placed the outcome beyond doubt eight minutes from the end. Crowley raced over the Wesley line after picking up a loose ball inside the 22’. Foley’s second conversion of the day stretched their cushion to 10 points (22-12) – leaving Wesley with too much of a mountain to climb in the process. The Ballinteer school persevered with their challenge, though, as Peter Costello dotted down from a quick penalty move deep into second-half stoppage-time. Atkinson added the extras to cut the gap to three points, but it was Roscrea who ultimately prevailed at the end of an absorbing affair. Leaving the final score, Cistercian College Roscrea 22 Wesley College 19. Cistercian College Roscrea will now go on face St Mary’s College in the second round of the Bank of Ireland Leinster Senior Schools Cup.

At Castle Avenue; Cistercian College Roscrea 22 (Diarmuid Kilgallon, James Corcoran, Liam Crowley try each, Billy Foley, pen, 2 cons); Wesley College 19 (Gary Hawe, Luke Fitzpatrick, Peter Costello try each, Jack Atkinson 2 cons). Cistercian College Roscrea: Darragh Tynan; Jay Culleton, Cormac Izuchukwu, Diarmaid Kilgallon, Evan Browne; Billy Foley, Jack Matthews; Josh Wycherley, Jerry Cahir, Michael Milne; Lucas Culliton, David Maher; James Corcoran, Gavin Meagher, Neal Moylett. Replacements: Dan Power for Maher, 48-65 mins; Liam Crowley for Matthews, 52 mins; Tadhg Bird for Kilgallon, Ryan Lomas for Corcoran, both 58 mins; Caoimhghin Bradshaw for Cahir, 66 mins. Wesley College: Ian Sheridan; Scott Doyle, Luke Fitzpatrick, James McElroy, Karl O’Connor; Gary Hawe, Jack Atkinson; Robbie Whitehead, Jamie Kavanagh, Conor Skerrit; Jack Brownwell, Fergus Noonan; Daniel Dooley, Ross Chandler, Sam Illo. Replacements: Harry Fanning for O’Connor, 19 mins; Jamie Vard for Sheridan, half-time; Peter Costello for Skerrit, Richie Johnson for Dooley, both 63 mins.

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WESLEY COLLEGE CLAIM 2018 BANK OF IRELAND VINNIE MURRAY CUP TITLE February 23, 2018

Wesley College came out on top in an eight-try thriller against The King’s Hospital to claim the 2018 Bank of Ireland Vinnie Murray Cup title at Donnybrook Stadium on Thursday afternoon. King’s Hos’ started the better of the two sides with a penalty in front of the posts from Ian West giving them a 3-0 lead. KH looked likely to extend that lead with a spell camped in the Wesley 22, but the Ballinteer school won a penalty to relieve the pressure. The next time King’s Hos’ came knocking they were much more clinical, with Connell Howley going over for their first try, converted by West.

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Now it was Wesley’s turn to show what they could do in attack, with Luke Fitzpatrick making an initial break. A five-metre maul followed and ended with KH’s Osebor Evbodaghe being shown a yellow card. A scrum, then some strong carrying, in particular from Sam Illo, drew another penalty before Peter Costello worked his way over to get Wesley on the scoreboard. KH took this in their stride. They chased hard after the restart and won a turnover on the Wesley 22. A quick tap penalty caught Wesley off-guard and Zak Bursey reached over the line to extend his side’s lead to 17-5 after the conversion from West.

Wesley needed to get the next score and James McElroy duly obliged, crashing over after some slick interplay between the Wesley backs to reduce the arrears to seven. A try-saving tackle before half-time by Wesley’s Ian Sheridan made sure the margin remained at seven at the break. As with the first half, KH made the stronger start to the second period, first through a break from Fionn O’Loughlin who was brought down just before the five-metre line. Then a cross-field kick found winger

Sam Boland who collected the ball and went over for his side’s third of the day.

At 12 points down, Wesley needed to get the scoreboard ticking over. They kept their cool, with scrumhalf Jack Atkinson converting a penalty. Karl O’Connor’s determined chase resulted in Wesley’s third try after he hunted down a McElroy kick in opposition territory. The conversion from Atkinson made it a two-point game. The momentum had shifted. The next score would be crucial. Wesley got it; Atkinson kicking another penalty to give his side the lead for the first time. From here Wesley kicked-on. Full-back Sheridan got in on the try-scoring action – Wesley were finding a lot of joy with kicks in behind the King’s Hos’ line – after capitalising on a mix-up in defence. Another kick had the King’s Hos’ defence turning to face their own try line but it was Wesley outside centre Luke Fitzpatrick that got there first to make it 35-22 with five minutes to go.


King’s Hos completed the scoring with a consolation try, but it was Wesley’s day. At Donnybrook – Wesley College 35 (P Costello, J McElroy, K O’Connor, I Sheridan, L Fitzpatrick try each; J Atkinson 2 pens, 2 cons) The King’s Hospital 27 (C Howley, Z Bursey, S Boland, AN Other try each; I West pen, 2 cons) Wesley College: Ian Sheridan; Scott Doyle, Luke Fitzpatrick, James McElroy, Karl O’Connor; Gary Hawe, Jack Atkinson; Robbie Whitehead, Jamie Kavanagh, Peter Costello; Jake Brownell, Fergus Noonan; Daniel Dooley, Ross Chandler, Sam Illo. Replacements: Michael McKeon, Conor Skerritt, Noah Young, Joseph O’Connor, Richie Johnston, Sam Darley, Jamie Vard, Adam Campion. The King’s Hospital: Ian West; Sam Boland, Craig Adams, Patrick O’Boy, Connall Howley; Fionn OLoughlin, Matthew Mahood; Fred Davis, Timothy Perry, Luke O’Neill; Osebor Evbodaghe, Killian Smith; Charles Moore, Felix Campbell, Zak Bursey. Replacements: Adam Carroll, Tom Raben, David Gray, Luke Gilmartin, Adam Bagnall, Ross Joyce, Edward Mahood, William Hendy.

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Wesley College SCT 2018

Ian Sheridan, Scott Doyle, Luke Fitzpatrick, James McElroy, Karl O’Connor; Gary Hawe, Jack Atkinson; Robbie Whitehead, Jamie Kavanagh, Peter Costello; Jake Brownell, Fergus Noonan; Daniel Dooley, Ross Chandler, Sam Illo, Michael McKeon, Conor Skerritt, Noah Young, Joseph O’Connor, Richie Johnston, Sam Darley, Jamie Vard, Adam Campion. gpfoto my photos, your story gerry@gpfoto.ie +353 (087) 2424123 © All rights reserved

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