Connacht Schools Senior Cup semi-final

Coláiste Iognáid               18                         

(David Kelly, Paddy Fahy, tries; Patrick Nash, one con, two pens)

Roscommon CBS             16

(Aodhán Looby, Jack Donnelly, tries; DJ Hession, two pens)

Kevin Egan at Galwegians RFC

Coláiste Iognáid secured their place in the 2022 Connacht Schools Senior Cup final in the most dramatic fashion imaginable this afternoon, when Patrick Nash’s just one minute before the final whistle nudged them over the line against a Roscommon CBS side that was more than a match for their Galway city opponents throughout an incredible contest at Galwegians RFC.

It looked like the CBS were destined to reach just their second ever Senior Cup final when DJ Hession nudged them in front after 33 minutes with a well-struck penalty, but Coláiste Iognáid were to get not one, but two more chances.

Right from the restart, they contested the ball and forced CBS into a holding-on penalty, which was pushed wide of the target by Andrew Sherlock. Roscommon CBS weren’t able to get enough distance on their clearance, and when Coláiste Iognáid launched another wave of attacks, they earned another penalty which was hammered between the posts from 30 metres out by Patrick Nash for the decisive score.

That two-minute spell was the only lead that Roscommon CBS enjoyed throughout the whole game, yet they were always very competitive with their more established, traditional rivals. Perhaps even more surprisingly, it was in the set piece exchanges where they caused the most problems for the Jes’, as the Roscommon students were powerful in the scrum and enjoyed the better of the lineout battle. Ultimately it was their higher error count – or to put it another way, the incredibly low error count of the Jes’ who were only guilty of a small handful of knock-ons all afternoon – that proved to be a crucial difference between the sides.

When Coláiste Iognáid got the ball out to players like Hugh Kelly, Ben O’Malley and captain Adam Madden in the backs, they looked capable of gaining yards, while Andrew Sherlock made some superb runs and breaks from the base of the ruck. The CBS were very capable of making yards too, but they were happy to go down the central channels and trust the power running of players like Eoin Kelly, Ciarán Purcell and Lee Kilcoyne carried the ball, or else lean on some astute kicks and run backs from Darren Gately.

3-3 at half-time was a fair reflection of a tight game that really opened up just three minutes after half time when Robert McHugh made a smart break and offloaded to David Kelly, with the lock forward showing a clean pair of heels to two tacklers before touching down under the posts.

Roscommon CBS responded in the best possible fashion. Flanker Tyrese Etette came up with one of several turnover wins he nabbed on the day, and that set up a move that ended with Darren Gately floating a looped pass over a defender and perfectly into the chest of Aodhán Looby, who sprinted over the line into the left corner.

DJ Hession’s conversion attempt from the left touchline fell inches short, which proved to be very consequential later on, but initially it seemed as if Coláiste Iognáid were going to win with a bit to spare as they restored their seven point advantage through a Paddy Fahy try.

It was a fully-deserved score for the prop, who opened up the opportunity when he rumbled through tacklers to gain 15 yards and put Roscommon CBS on the back foot, and he was there again three phases later to use his power and finish off the move.

Patrick Nash’s conversion hammered off the post so it was still a one-score game at 15-8, with the lead cut even further with 28 minutes gone when the CBS camped out on the Jes’ goal-line, initially battering on the door with a series of powerful runs from the forwards, before eventually whipping the ball out wide. DJ Hession measured the last pass to Jack Donnelly perfectly, and the young winger got under the tackle of Hugh Kelly and found the corner.

Again the conversion from a very tough spot was missed, but Hession more than redeemed himself when a high tackle on Gately handed him another chance, and the man who played both minor hurling and football for Roscommon in 2021 duly judged the tricky cross-wind to perfection and shaped a high kick inside the far right post.

The underdogs had asked the toughest of questions to the home side, but Coláiste Iognáid were able to find the answer, and Nash’s pressure kick in the last minute set up a rematch with Sligo Grammar School in what should be a thrilling final on Tuesday week in the Sportsgrounds.

Coláiste Iognáid: Ben O’Malley; Hugh Kelly, Adam Madden, Robert McHugh, Conor Toner; Patrick Nash, Andrew Sherlock; Paddy Fahy, Charlie Leonard, Liam Cloherty; Rory Lally, David Kelly; Ryan Kavanagh, Shay McGovern, Jack Quinn.  

Replacements: Charlie Bogue for McGovern (42 mins), Conal Ó Floinn for Toner (42 mins), AJ Solan for Cloherty (67 mins), Fergus Hanney for Lally (70 mins).

Roscommon CBS: Darren Gately; Senan Lambe, Aodhán Looby, Edimar Filho, Jack Fleming; DJ Hession, Cormac Dolan; Anthony Gorman, Tomás Tiernan, Ben Johnson; Aidan Hoare, Eoin Kelly; Ciarán Purcell, Tyrese Etette, Lee Kilcoyne.

Replacements: James Murray for Gorman (16 mins), Michael McAteer for Hoare (half-time), Aindriú Oates for Murray (44 mins), Jack Donnelly for Fleming (51 mins), Seán Rohan for Tiernan (64 mins).

Referee: James Craughwell  

 

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