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  

 

It’s the biggest day in the Connacht schools rugby calendar tomorrow when six teams from five schools compete in a triple-header of Top Oil Schools Cup finals at The Sportsground.
 
The Senior A, Junior A and Senior Development Cups will all be decided tomorrow with a huge crowd expected at the home of Connacht Rugby for the games.
 
Here’s a look ahead to the three fixtures with all you need to know about the ties.
 
SENIOR A CUP FINAL: GARBALLY COLLEGE V CBS ROSCOMMON (K/O 4PM)

Never before has a Senior A Cup final pitted together two sides on such polar opposites of the schools rugby spectrum. On one side you’ve got a Garbally College gunning for an incredible 47th Schools Cup title since they won the very first final in 1913. They won’t be short of motivation however, since they’re aiming to win back-to-back Cups for the first time since the last 1990s when they won four-in-a-row. The Ballinasloe side have been as impressive as ever during the 2019 campaign – defeating the Jes and Summerhill in the group stage before a 26 point victory over Sligo Grammar to book their place in the final.

Their opponents meanwhile have already made rugby history, but they don’t intend stopping there. Two weeks ago among joyous scenes at Creggs RFC, CBS Roscommon booked a first ever place in the Senior A Cup final with a 16-8 victory over The Jes. The win was the culmination of many years work at the school, especially considering they only joined the Senior ranks a number of years ago. CBS are the first ever school from Roscommon to reach a Senior Cup final, with their semi-final win coming after group stage wins over Marist and Sligo Grammar.

Will it be the kingpins from Ballinasloe who’ll add another title to their collection, or will there be a new name to add to the Senior Schools history books? We’ll find out from 4pm tomorrow.
 


JUNIOR A CUP FINAL: GARBALLY COLLEGE V THE JES COLAISTE IOGNAID (K/O 2PM)

At Garbally it’s not just the seniors who are still looking to be the team to beat. Their Juniors are on four wins from four in this year’s Junior Cup campaign, overcoming St Muiredachs, CBS Roscommon and The Bish in the round robin before gaining some bit of revenge on Marist College by beating them in the semi-finals, 12 months after Marist got the better of them in the Junior Cup final.

This year’s decider is a meeting of two old rivals on the Schools Cup scene with The Jes standing in their way. Like their opponents, The Jes are also unbeaten in 2019 with three wins in the group stages before a 27-7 victory over Muiredachs in the last four.

Games between these two schools are always hotly anticipated affairs whatever the level, and more of the same is expected tomorrow from 2pm.
 
SENIOR DEVELOPMENT CUP FINAL: GALLEN CS V SCOIL CHUIMSITHEACH CHIARÁIN (K/O 12PM)

Tomorrow’s action gets underway with a unique pairing in the Senior Development Cup final, as SCC Carraroe from the heart of Connemara take on a Gallen side travelling from Ferbane in Offaly.

11 schools competed in this year’s Senior Development tournament, and like the later games it features two teams who navigated the group stages with 100% records, while they both had extremely tight semi-final encounters. Gallen beat the Presentations from Headford and Athenry before they qualified for the final after a tight and tense repeat clash with Headford.

Meanwhile it’s been a long journey for SCC who have navigated through three group games as well as an additional quarter-final before their hugely impressive semi-final win over St. Muiredachs. If it’s anything like their previous knock-out games en route to today’s decider, it promises to be a cracking game to kick off the day.
 
Tickets for the games are €10 for adult and €5 for teenagers while U12s go free. Please note this is a cash only event. There is no parking available at the ground and we ask all attendees to please respect local residents if parking in the vicinity.
 
The Junior Development, Senior Emerging and Junior Emerging Cup finals will also be held at The Sportsground with the games underway at 4pm, 2pm an 12pm respectively on Wednesday March 27th.
 

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