As the trophy sat proudly beside the new Oval Pitch, it seemed destined to find its long-term residency in the castle behind it. Alas, it was not to be. The spectacular piece will instead make its way to Ailesbury Road, having been clinched by St. Michael’s with a narrow 3-0 victory over close rivals Blackrock College. Video footage of the event is available to view here.
With an impressive first day under their belts, blemished only by injury to key back-rower Will Connors, Clongowes continued their business-like form on Saturday by dispatching Ivybridge Community College of England 12-0. Yet, before the magnitude of the day had taken hold, we already had a clash that would determine the afternoon’s proceedings. With Blackrock having swept aside a capable Methody outfit (21-5) in a simultaneous fixture, Clongowes knew that victory over their powerhouse rivals would assure them of a place in the Cup final.
Following a mediocre showing on Friday, Blackrock never looked likely to ruffle any feathers on Saturday, yet they returned to Clongowes determined to spoil the party. Playing with an intensity befitting the Senior Cup, Blackrock stole a march on the Clane side by going into an early two score lead. Clongowes knew that only a win would see them progress – first try scorers being crucial on a head-to-head basis. Despite clawing themselves back into the game somewhat, the hosts could not force the issue under limited time constraints and lost 12-7.
On the other side of the draw meanwhile, a gigantic St. Michael’s were imposing themselves on the competition. An early draw against PBC Cork seemed to awaken the Dublin giants and they subsequently notched wins against CBC Cork and Crescent to secure their place in the final.
In the Shield group, Newbridge College showed the type of form that will see them go far in the upcoming Senior Cup. Leaving Gonzaga, Coleg y Cymeodd and Terenure all in their wake, Clongowes’ neighbours duly claimed a well-deserved title against Rockwell College who had been similarly impressive in the qualification stages.
The Plate group proved to be the tightest of all, with Castleknock, St. Mary’s, Roscrea and Belvedere all tied on points going into the last round. Castleknock and St. Mary’s ultimately emerged from the pot, with Castleknock overcoming a 10-0 loss to the Rathmines sides in the earlier rounds to return home with silverware.
Despite their penchant for draws, Blackrock made it to the final without a loss. With a clinical undoing of Clongowes many felt that they were destined for the spoils. However, St. Michael’s, with a side blessed with physicality from 1 to 15, had their own ideas and held out in the closest of victories.
As Fr. Leonard Moloney made the presentation to the St. Michael’s captain, it suddenly dawned on people that the rugby bonanza had concluded. One could get used to daily match-ups. Yet the true value of the weekend lay in the fun that everyone enjoyed over the two days. From food to music and to the drama of the games themselves, all agreed that Clongowes had celebrated their historic year fittingly and with pride.
On their journey home St. Michael’s graciously tweeted that it was a “true celebration of 200 years” – it’s just a pity that we have to wait until the tercentenary to get our trophy back….
Many thanks to all those involved in what was a truly memorable weekend. For more photos, courtesy of Mr. David Nelson, check out our facebook page:www.facebook.com/clongoweswoodcollegesj