300St. Gerald’s Castlebar 36-0 Garbally College

The Elvery’s Connacht Schools Junior Cup final will be contested by two up and coming schools both featuring in their first final. St. Gerald’s of Castlebar joined CBS Roscommon after steamrolling a stubborn Garbally College. The only worry for St. Gerald’s after this match was the potentially serious knee injury to the impressive Ultan McDyre. McDyre was having a strong game, and hopefully the injury isn’t as serious as it looks.

After dominating the first ten minutes, Gerald’s got off to a great start, getting into a 7-0 after ten minutes. This seemed to energise them, and a few minutes later, a scrum just inside the Garbally half saw a classic Leinster inside move cut the Garbally defense open for Mark Balaski to make huge yards. Some good carrying from Barry Walsh and then Sean Tonra, set it up for McDyre to go over for the second try. St. Gerald’s lead by 14 points to nil after fourteen minutes.

Walsh was placekicking superbly, and added a penalty for a seventeen point lead moments later before Garbally finally sparked into life. They started to control possession, but the Gerald’s defense and linespeed was stopping them from getting any momentum or territory. On the stroke of half time, only a last gasp tackle from Ryan Corrigan and Balaski prevented Potter from going over in the corner to get the Ballinasloe school back into it. The score at half time was 17-0.

St. Gerald’s seemed to stir from this near miss after half time, and some great hands while in the Garbally 22 allowed Walsh to get a deserved try. Another flawless kick kept him at 100% after 4 attempts. Gerald’s were threatening to cut lose before the injury to McDyre halted play. The game flattened out a little bit after this, with Gerald’s missing the dominance in the scrum and big ball carrying that McDyre brought, although flanker Saran O’Callaghan was giving a masterclass in tackling technique and work ethic.

Garbally’s hopes rested on no. 8 Michael O’Neill, who was at the heart of all their positive play, proving a nuisance with ball in hand and impossible for the Gerald’s defence to bring to ground. It wasn’t to be for Garbally, as two more tries were run in on the wing, first from Ryan Corrigan, and then for Cathal Brohan from a turnover spread wide. Walsh missed his first kick of the day to finish at 5 from 6.

St. Gerald’s will now meet CBS Roscommon, which will undoubtedly be a meeting of the two strongest teams in the final, with both playing the game in the right spirit in a match that will be enthralling for all spectators.

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