Although he might have assumed that he would quietly slip away into the sunset upon his retirement, Mr. Tony Pierce found himself cast back into the limelight once again as Clongowes ran riot at Donnybrook on Thursday. Taking up his usual position on the half-way line opposite the hollering of his former charges, Mr. Pierce was subject to much interrogation:
“Tony, what’s the score?”
“How about now?”
As the resident mathematician in Clane for many years, those gathered around expected that he would be the very man to provide them with an answer. Alas, not even one of Clongowes’ greatest minds could keep up, not to mention the Wesley-end scoreboard.
Following their commendable exploits in the Vinnie Murray Cup – their semi-final bout against St. Gerard’s went to a replay less than a week ago – Castleknock College looked like a spent force as the blue-capped Will Connors jaunted away from the defensive cover for his third try of the game after just 20 minutes. Unfortunately for the North Dublin school, a much anticipated trip to the revamped home of Leinster schools’ rugby was fast becoming an exercise in damage limitation.
From this perspective, Clongowes appear to be the complete package. Up front captain John Molony and converted flanker Donal Mongey were immense at the breakdown – to the point of complete disregard for their own safety, while Connors and Sean McCrohan wrought havoc in the loose at every given opportunity. Even diligent prop Nick Rinklin gave credence to his outlandish claims that he was once an out-half. Having been put through by Johnny Glynn, the German showed sleight of foot to send the Castleknock full-back the wrong way for an impressive score under the posts (some detractors suggested that the defender was merely safeguarding his own well-being…!)
Out wide meanwhile, clean ball on the 4G surface was clearly suiting a classy Clongowes backline. Having settled into the game in the early stages, Glynn was pulling the strings with consummate ease. Within moments, Michael Silvester, Michael McDermott and James Lappin had all exploited gaps in the Castleknock defence and would continue to do so throughout. But despite their efforts, it was McDermott’s centre partner Colm Mulcahy who was making the real mark on fixture. A veteran of two previous senior campaigns, Mulcahy used his experience to bring solidity to proceedings in the first-half, before stretching his legs in the second to claim four tries of his own.
Going into the break 29-3 to the good, with tries from Connors (3), Rinklin and Mongey, Clongowes might have been forgiven for taking their foot off the gas somewhat. However, that would not have been in keeping with Head Coach Noel McNamara’s philosophy. Instead the purple army continued to work hard and ignored the temptation to make glorified individual contributions. For instance, the standard of ball presentation was something to behold, continuously allowing Rowan Osborne to keep his opponents on the back foot. Indeed as soon as Castleknock had picked themselves off the floor following Mulcahy’s first effort three minutes into the second-half, they were back with their hands on knees again as McDermott found his way through following great interplay between McCrohan and Osborne from the subsequent kick-off.
Remarkably, despite the introduction of seven new personnel, the sustained onslaught on the Castleknock line did not relent for the remaining twenty minutes. Having put in a firm shift in the front row (including three scrums against the head), Charlie Carroll was replaced by his namesake Ed who duly helped to win a fourth in his first involvement. The resulting play saw Mulcahy make his way to the try-line for a second time. Four mintues later, replacement No.8 Patrick Nulty fed Mulcahy for his third off the back of a scrum deep into the Castleknock ’22. Although a loose pass from Conor Murray allowed Castleknock in for a consolation score as the game drew to a close, Clongowes still found time to add three further scores through Silvester, Dan O’Leary and Mulcahy (again).
While this rout will have sent out an emphatic statement to their rivals, there nevertheless remains several unanswered questions that will undoubtedly be asked of this Clongowes side at some stage in this competition. However, nobody will fancy their chances against a side in this form whilst oozing quality in the shape of the tremendous trio – Connors, Molony and Mulcahy. As for Castleknock, the Vinnie Murray Cup Final against The King’s Hospital awaits. But they will be back. Of that there is no question. We wish them the very best of luck.
So, as Mr. Tony Pierce departed Donnybrook basking in his re-found fame brought about by this mathematical conundrum, he could be heard to profess in his own distinctive way: “Possunt quia posse videntur” – They can because they seem to be able to. Hopefully the undoubted ability of this crop of Clongownians shines through the rest of this latest assault on the Leinster Schools’ Senior Cup.
Team: Michael Silvester, James Lappin, Colm Mulcahy, Michael McDermott, Conor Murray (Fionnan Madden ’65), Johnny Glynn (Joe Murphy ’60), Rowan Osborne (Tom Monaghan ’54), Sean McCrohan (Patrick Nulty ’50), Donal Mongey, Will Connors, Dan O’Mahony, Tim Burke (Jack Moore ’58), Charlie Carroll (Ed Carroll ’50), John Molony (Hugo McDermott ’60), Nick Rinklin (Dan O’Leary ’60)