I write it out in a verse—Dolan and Doggett and Cripwell and Pogatchnick, now and in time to be,
wherever green (and black) are worn, are changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.
Those lucky enough to be counted as current Conlethians will be talking about this match for years to come: Past Pupils’ Dinners will be enlivened with first-person accounts of the day when the boys in green and black from Clyde Road and Section A rose up and very nearly beat rugby royalty, and Section C frequenters, Castleknock in the Vinnie Murray Cup. We will leave the game report to the professionals from Leinster Rugby (see below), suffice it to say that it was a privilege to witness the way a team of well-coached and dedicated young men can galvanise the spirit of the school to such an extent that even the bitterness of sudden loss can taste like the sweetest of victories.
From the Leinster Rugby official website:
Andrew Hobson’s injury-time try put Castleknock through to the second round of the Bank of Ireland Vinnie Murray Cup at Donnybrook on Friday. The occasion, as much as anything, led to nerves from both sides as Castleknock’s Josh Connolly’s excellent penalty kick to touch put them inside the 22. St Conleth’s exit strategy was all about applying pressure from fly-half Ben Doggett’s clearance. It worked. The ball was spilled and centre Nicolas Foreau’s arcing break tested ‘Knock’s defence. Their ambition to play got the better of them when the ball hit the floor for ‘Knock lock Conor Stinson to dish out punishment on the counter carry. Then, hooker Michael Corcoran found Jack Horgan at a lineout and the subsequent maul generated momentum and problems for St Conleth’s. When that was ultimately fruitless, flanker Cathal Bermingham pulled his penalty slightly left of the posts in the 13th minute. Conleth’s number eight Kevin Dolan was solid off the back of the scrum and Foreau was keen to take it up again. Blindside Brendan Connor’s take at the front of a lineout got Conleth’s going well enough to force a penalty which Doggett whacked short of the target.
Full-back Michael McKay turned a difficult grubber from Patrick Murtagh to profit with a sizzling break. The penalty came. Doggett went for touch in what was a better decision.Conleth’s took care of the lineout and moved the ball with confidence left-to-right and back for openside David Pogatchnik to break a tackle on his way into the right corner. Fly-half Doggett’s conversion made it 7-0 in the 23rd minute. The underdogs had a lead to defend. Their centre Ross Murphy wrapped Sean Gibbons up in the tackle. They looked secure enough in defence until wing Hobson let rip down the right, cutting inside the last defender for Bermingham to square it from the conversion just short of the half-hour. Conleth’s flanker Connor hot-footed forward for Bermingham to see yellow for conceding a penalty and the lead to Doggett in the 33rd minute. It wasn’t long before Dolan was binned for his work at a ruck as the half came to a close.
Castleknock came out scolded. Bermingham’s simple penalty leveled it at 10-all from their first attack. The northsiders were beginning to turn the territory screw until Foreau broke from deep to remind them of the danger lurking from the boys from Ballsbridge. Captain Dolan tore through the middle. Connor was the link man. And Foreau finished with real intent. Better again, Doggett made the touchline conversion for 17-10 in the 48th minute.
The response was swift. The ‘Knock went more direct for Bermingham to drive over from a mini-maul in the 52nd minute. A high tackle incurred the wrath of Doggett’s right boot as the fly-half nailed another difficult penalty. This was wiped out by an immediate surge from Castleknock’s big men, replacement Liam Salmon having a snipe before James Gibney touched down for Bermingham’s extras to make it 22-20 in the 60th minute. The back and forth continued with Pogatchnik pumping his legs and prop Robert Cripwell punching in the five points for 25-22 in the 65th minute. Instead of kicking long, St Conleth’s wound down the clock through ball in hand rugby, the right option, until Castleknock wrestled away possession. It triggered a series of attacks that ended with wing Hobson claiming a glorious, match-winning try. CASTLEKNOCK COLLEGE 27 ST CONLETH’S COLLEGE 25
At Donnybrook – Castleknock College 27 (A Hobson 2 tries; J Gibney try; C Bermingham try, pen, 2 cons); St Conleth’s College 25 (D Pogatchnik, N Foreau, R Cripwell try each; B Doggett 2 pens, 2 cons).
Castleknock: Cathal Lacey; Andrew Hobson, Sean Gibbons, Jamie McGaley, Nico Eastmond; Patrick Murtagh, Josh Connolly; Carl Keogh, Michael Corcoran, Gavin Murray, Jack Horgan, Conor Stinson, Darragh McNally, Cathal Bermingham (capt), Cian Clancy.
St Conleth’s: Michael McKay; Sean Bortolozzo, Ross Murphy, Nicolas Foreau, Finn Mulcahy; Ben Doggett, David McKeown; Robert Cripwell, Colin Duffy, Mati Remi, Cameron Ross-O’Reilly, Patrick Cahill, Brendan Connor, David Pogatchnik, Kevin Dolan (capt). Replacement: Luke McKay for McKeown 60 mins.