Thursday, January 10, 2013
De La Salle Churchtown 13 - High School 12
De La Salle - Kevin Burke try, 2 pens, con.
High School - Tim Harding, Gavin Power tries, Dean Kilroy con.
On Thursday 10th of January, De La Salle recorded their most notable victory in the Leinster Schools Cup since the mid nineties when they overcame a physically bigger High School team at Terenure College .
The Salle team had greeted members of the 1983 Cup Winning team who were back in school for a 30 Year reunion before heading off for the match; whether this gave the team extra motivation is open to question but at times they tackled like demons when High School were camped in their 22 for long periods in the second half. In particular, their back row captain Justas Mereckas, Aidan Walsh and Aaron Hickey stood out.
In the end it was this grim determination and 'No Paseran' spirit which earned them a thrilling win. For this observer, the sheer commitment to the tackle was reminiscent of a famous day in 1976 when De La Salle beat Blackrock 7 - 3 in the 1st round of the cup - a team in which current joint coach Lorcan Balfe played in.
The game began ominously for Salle in the first few minutes when High School mauled off a line out on the Salle 22. They then moved the ball through several phases before hooker Tim Harding powered over in the corner for an unconverted try. (0 - 5)
High School had the opportunity to build on this lead but missed two kickable penalties.
De La Salle weathered this early storm and then exerted their own pressure following some good long kicks by scrum half Kevin Burke and follow up which forced the High School backs into error. Midway through the half, Salle got a foothold in the School 22 and following a series of powerful drives, were held inches short of the line. Thry recycled and went through the phases before the referee awarded a penalty under the posts for an earlier infringement. Burke tapped over to close the gap. (3 - 5)
At this stage of the game, the Salle pack really cranked up their effort and their powerful front row of Declan Austin, Robert Leonard and Cian O'Rourke had the High School scrum in all sorts of trouble. On 25 minutes, Salle had a scrum just inside the 10m line in the middle of the pitch. Burke eventually broke through for a try. (10-5)
Salle had the initiative now but found themselves defending a High School lineout on their own 22 going into the last 5 minutes of the half. School mauled on powerfully before Salle were penalised for dragging it down. Predictably they kicked for the corner but the ball went forward off a High School hand in the lineout and from the resultant scrum, Salle cleared the ball to touch and the relieving sound of the half time whistle.
This was a major let off for Salle and gave them something to hang onto in the 2nd half.
2nd HALF - 'NO PASERAN!':
The 2nd half began the same as the 1st finished with High School getting a lineout in the Salle 22 and calling their maul into play. Salle managed to repel several huge drives but were eventually penalised for collapsing the maul.
High School outhalf Dean Kilroy kicked for the corner and it seemed inevitable that they would score but a combination of resolute tackling by Salle and poor execution in the lineout by 'School meant that the Churchtown boys held the pass. On at least 2 occasions, 'School were blown up for crooked throws and were also penalised for pushing ahead of the jumper when all they had to do was maul to score.
However, Salle had difficulty in winning their own lineout and this meant that they played nearly all the 1st 25 minutes of the 2nd half in their own 22. Eventually they did manage to lift the siege and following a break off a scrum on half way they were awarded a penalty 35 metres out, to the left of the posts. Burke showed great composure to nail the kick for what the Salle fans thought were the 'insurance' points as normal time was nearly up! (13 - 5 )
High School weren't going out without a whimper and again managed to get a foothold in the Salle 22. As ever, the defence was magnificent but High School eventually were awarded a penalty 5 metres from the posts. Given that they needed to score twice, there was an argument for taking the points as the referee clearly was going to play a lot of injury time but Kilroy kicked for the lineout in the right corner. From the inevitable maul, tight head Cian O'Rourke was penalised and sinbinned for going in from the side. No prizes for guessing High Schools next move and this time wing forward Gavin Power managed to finish off the lineout maul with a try in the right corner which Kilroy embellished with an excellent conversion. (13 - 12 )
By now, 9 minutes of injury time had been played and the Salle faithful were expecting to hear the final whistle but there was one last twist. Following the restart which went deep into their own territory, High School played their best rugby of the game. They began a series of 'pick-and-go's which they recycled very well to bring them up to halfway before releasing their backs to the left. The move was brought to a shuddering halt on the left touchline about 30 metres out by a strong Salle tackle which the referee blew for 'high'.
With both sets for supporters afraid to watch, Kilroy connected well but the ball dropped under the posts and was knocked on before being grounded by the relieved Salle defender!
After 50 minutes of the 2nd half, the referee finally blew the final whistle!!
There was simultaneous jubilation and desolation for the Salle and High School players respectively. For the Salle fans and in particular the members of the 1983 team, this was the best reunion imaginable. For their coaches Lorcan Balfe and Tom Leigh, this was deliverance day as they had regularly been on the wrong side of cliff hanger finishes in the last 10 years.
Roll on St. Andrews on Thursday 17th January!
De La Salle:
15 - Chris Gannon
14 - Joseph Odeoemene
13 - Ed Banin
12 - Zac Farrell
11 - Kern Morgan
10 - Conor Mac Donald
9 - Kevin Burke
1 - Declan Austin
2 - Robert Leonard
3 - Cein O Rourke
4 - Adam Hembrecht
5 - Colm Butcher
6 -Justas Mereckas (Capt.)
7 -Aidan Walsh
8 - Aarron Hickey
16 - Hasan Alobaidi
17 - Fiachra Lattimore
18 - Darragh Ward
19 - Damien Zablocki
20 - Ciaran Byrne
21 - Andrew Mac Aardle
22 - Garreth Conney
Article by Diarmuid Coogan.