Marist College 5
By John O’Sullivan
Garbally College powered their way into the Top Oil Connacht Senior Schools Cup final with a resounding victory over Marist College on their home pitch.
With fly half Cian Treacy -- who slotted five conversions and a penalty -- to the creative fore, the Ballinasloe school scored seven tries. Sean Horkan(2), Adam Fogarty(2), the Devine brothers, Matthew and John, and replacement tight-head Daithi Blackweir all touched down in an exhibition of awesome attacking rugby, played on an unseasonably sunny day.
Marist, meanwhile, scored the opening try of the afternoon from Nathaniel O’Neill but, from that point onwards, were outmatched across the board by their blue and white clad opponents.
With the dry weather maintaining hard underfoot conditions, there was the ideal platform for running rugby and Marist grabbed the initiative early. After only a minute of play, an enterprising move saw the ball swept wide to O’Neill on the right wing and the winger showed a turn of pace to touch down for the opening score. The conversion was wide, but the Athlone school would have been delighted with their start.
The concession of a try sparked a response from Garbally and a series of hard carries from their forwards yielded a penalty near Marist’s 22. Treacy, showing no nerves, duly slotted the kick to get his team on the board.
With their tails up and scrum half Devine adding tempo to the game at will, Garbally began turning the screw and their efforts were rewarded with a try on the 20 minute mark. A move starting deep in their own half saw Treacy throw a sumptuous pass into the path of Fogarty and the full back cantered in for the defending champions’ opening try. Treacy added the extras and Garbally established a 10-5 lead.
All the pressure was coming from the Galway men and despite the best efforts of the Marist defence -- lead by Irish school boy international hooker Koronato Kiripati and lock Keelan Connolly -- their second try came near the end of the first half.
Horkan ran a cutting inside line, meeting Treacy’s pass with perfect timing and speed, and stepped three would be tackles to touch down under the post, leaving the conversion a formality and sending Garbally into the interval with a 17-5 lead.
The second half started in the same fashion as the first ended and Garbally had their third try soon after the resumption. Benefitting from a platform provided to them by their pack’s territory gaining carries, Treacy -- the blue and whites creative hub -- floated a looping pass that found full back Fogarty in space on the left hand side and, showing great footwork, he evaded the cover defence to dot down for another try.
The floodgates were now opened and -- despite Marist showing commendable character and never giving up -- Garbally added four more second half tries; first from scrum half Devine, then his brother, centre John, tighthead Blackweir, Fogarty and finally Horkan, completing his brace.
Garbally team: 15-9(: A.Fogarty; S.Horkan; C.Goode, J.Devine; S.Hennessy; C.Treacy, M.Devine; 8-1(: J.Claffey, C.Lohan, K.Blackweir; P.Galvin, B.Feeney; S.Egan, J.Curley, R.Carry
Replacements: L.Feehily, J.Carry, D.Blackweir, L.Walsh, N.Cusack, N.Murphy, T.Fitzpatrick, A.O’Carroll.
Marist team: 15-9(: T.O’Brien; A.Donovan; M.Bryne, T.Shine; N.O’Neill; R.Fallon, A.Flanagan; 8-1(: L.Laoshvili, K.Kiripati, K.Egan; L.Fallon, K.Connolly; A.Burke, G.Daly, S.Fogarty.
Replacements: H.Cunniffe, D.Butler, D.Claffey, J.D.O’Shea, J.Henson, E.Frist, B.O’Carroll, F.McDonnell