Clongowes Wood College 34: Kilkenny College 15
Despite months of relentless toil and commitment, the Clongowes SCT 2014 realised that the hard work was only beginning as they were greeted by miserable morning skies on Wednesday (29th, January). However, Fergal Cleary’s troops failed to let the weather dampen their focus ahead of an awkward tie against Kilkenny College at NUI Maynooth.
The Clongowes supporters on the other hand might have been forgiven for allowing their minds drift to the safety offered by the stands in Donnybrook as they peered out from the classrooms and observed the dancing puddles. Meanwhile, last year’s Transition Year umbrella venture was enjoying a new lease of life.
Despite the incessant rain, the CWC 23, aided by the customary Womba, stood firm and faced down a spirited challenge. Indeed so spirited was that challenge that at one point Kilkenny might have sensed a scalp on the scale of their victory over Ian Madigan’s Blackrock of 2007.
When James Lappin crossed the muddied whitewash for an early score, the nerves settled for a brief moment before Kilkenny’s Dylan Kelso pounced on a loose pass to put the contest firmly in the balance for much of the first period. The Kilkenny resistance was immediately galvanised by the fortuitous try and began to put Clongowes under considerable pressure at the breakdown. Several penalties ensued, ultimately leading to the sin-binning of captain and out-half Cleary.
Despite the competitiveness of the Kilkenny pack, Clongowes were able to assert their dominance at the set-piece. Such superiority enabled the assorted talent in the Clongowes back-line to release the ball wide and move it away from a crowded midfield. Indeed anytime schools’ cup specialist Cian O’Donoghue got into the action he looked poised to wreak havoc on the Kilkenny defence. Inevitably it was O’Donoghue who raced in for a crucial score after some fine interplay involving Colm Mulcahy. Some minutes later, No.8 Mark Jones, much to his own bemusement, managed to wriggle through the clutches of several would-be tacklers for some breathing space at the interval.
While many would have expected Clongowes to take their foot off the gas, it was they who looked much the brighter in the opening stages of the second-half. Cleary and Alan Hughes began to find their range in pinning the Kilkenny defence into the corners, while Cleary’s eye for space gave Jake Kennedy the opportunity to utilise his size and range to effectively end the fixture as a contest.
Much to their credit however, Kilkenny refused to bow down even with O’Donoghue notching a fifth Clongowes try as the game entered the final quarter. Kennedy’s colleagues in the pack meanwhile continued to get themselves about the park, most notably Will Connors, vice-captain Conor Gleeson and Josh Pim who was dogged in his efforts to get one over cousin Sam, his opposite number. There were few begrudgers when Kilkenny claimed a consolation try through Jason Melbourne late into stoppage time to make it 34-15.
While the display was less than pretty, it was a useful contest for this Clongowes side to rid themselves of Senior Cup jitters and feel their way into the competition. Kilkenny asked some questions of the side, many of which were answered, others not, yet speaking to the school community as they were welcomed back, captain Cleary explained that while he was happy to climb the first hurdle, he was only too aware of the need for his side to “get back to work”.
Clongowes: A. Hughes, J. Lappin, C. Mulcahy, C. Burke, C. O’Donoghue, F. Cleary (c), R. Osborne, M. Jones, J. Pim, W. Connors, J. Kennedy, C. Gleeson, D. O’Leary, J. Molony, N. Rinkin. Subs: D. Kiely for Lappin, J. Lyons for Molony, J. Inglis for O’Leary, J. Glynn for Osborne, C. Godson for Rinkin,
Scorers: O’Donoghue (2T), Lappin, Jones, Kennedy, Hughes (1P, 3C).
Mr Richard McElwee