Rock Win U13 Cup Final
Blackrock College RFC 13 - Bective Rangers 12
May 1st, 2022
Inspired by the Senior Team's comeback victory in Greystones the previous day, Blackrock U13’s scored from a last minute kick to win the George Furlong Leinster U13’s School/Youths Cup in Donnybrook Stadium.
Rock had an excellent week leading up to the game with Blackrock College kindly allowing us to train twice on the school's all weather pitch, a surface identical to Donnybrook. Past pupil Garry Ringrose was a special guest at the penultimate training session and gave some professional words of advice to the boys which were well received.
Sunday's cup final was incredibly our 32nd competitive game this season. Our 2009 squad is blessed with a depth of quality players and during the league phase of the season, we fielded two 'A' teams in each of the two Leinster premier leagues, reaching the semi-final playoffs in each - a feat unequalled in the league. The high standard of play in the league games allowed us to give as many boys as possible the chance to play and develop against tough opposition. We took some losses along the way but it was a decision that we are proud of and we believe gave us a stronger overall squad when we switched focus to the bigger prize. The Leinster Schools/Youth Cup features 35 teams from the best of the best of Dublin Metro and Leinster clubs. This was the trophy which Rock U13’s set their sights on winning.
For any cup final, picking 23 players from a squad of 53 is no easy feat. This difficult task fell to Coach Moe who delivered the news on Thursday training with a rousing speech. He encouraged those players unlucky not to be selected to become our fiercest supporters. They duly did!
Coach Moe picks up the story:
The weekend started with what will long be remembered for the ‘longest day ever’ on the Saturday. Double and triple checking all the fine details was the order of the day. The planning and organisation ahead of the cup final felt more akin to a professional team. So it should have been with all the effort players, parents and coaches had put into the season and the many years of mini rugby. This was now the big time. While there was talk of individual opposition players, we followed our plan and focused on what we could control: Our performance. The morning of the match went to plan. Nothing new, same process, same focus. The mood was good. The nerves were high and controlled. Calm focused aggression, calm focused aggression. Warm up felt good. Same drills nothing new. We felt good. The changing room was electric pre-game. All we could see were smiling faces looking forward to going out to perform. Individual instructions were direct and warmly received by the players. The team were ready and proud. The call of ‘We Want the Rock’ from the squad outside who formed a guard of honour set the tone as the team took the field. And then the match kicked off. As is the norm Peter LeRoux's first hit set the tone for the rest of the match. Tackle after tackle went in from both sides with no easy yards given. Sam McCaffery and Peter’s centre partnership was rock solid. After some early Bective possession where their star players were kept in check and nullified, Rock took over the play. Wave after wave of some great running rugby which was defended excellently, was finally rewarded with a beautifully converted 2-on-1 execution by winger Sam Ennis and captain Jack O'Neill scoring in the corner. Scrum half Marcas McGovern's smile after the try will live long in the memory! Bective were holding on as Rock had the majority of possession and territory in the 1st half. Flanker Eoghan Rowlands, and front rows Jamie McCarthy and John Donnelly made a lot of hard yards. 5-0 to Rock at half time. The second half was entirely different. Unfortunately Rock lost their influential No. 8 Daniel English just before half time. He had a tremendous match up to that point and nullified his opposite number with some man mountain tackles. Bective scored a well worked try not long after half time and converted to take the lead. Rock were suddenly on the back foot. A second try for Bective off an amazing individual effort from their No. 8 and things were looking very difficult. But Rock stuck to their task. Lucas Hill, Jamie Simpson and Gavin O'Brien all dug deep and made hit after hit. With ball in hand Rock took it down the field with tremendous style, spirit and endeavour. Some fantastic passing and running from backs Andy Buckley, Ben Power and Harry Malone combining with forwards Joseph Norris and Paul Hartnett who never stopped all day. The fitness regime that each player followed really came through at the end. Bucko could see Bective were out on their feet and he just kept playing. After a very close attempt out wide by Peter and Harry Malone, flanker Eoghan Rowlands drove over to make it 10-12. With only a few minutes left to play Rock had to find another score. The final play that resulted in a penalty started with a massive counter ruck from Rock on the Bective 22 which turned over the ball. The essence of our philosophy as a group was never so clearly demonstrated: never give up and continue to play no matter what the situation. With the clock gone red, captain Jack O'Neill took the brave decision to kick the penalty from roughly the same spot where he had missed a conversion a minute earlier. As he lined up the kick his team mates formed in a curve behind him, ready to embrace him whether the kick landed or not. It did! The flags went up and the final whistle blew. The squad went wild. The scenes afterwards were fantastic for all involved. The incredible support was a result of the understanding of the effort the team, impact subs, reserves and coaches had put into the campaign, the season and the many years of the boys rugby. Be the GOAT. " Amazing credit to our fantastic support for Rock in the stands, by some estimates outnumbering our local Donnybrook opponents and certainly louder on the day.We had a wonderful reception back at the club house with an excess of 200 in attendance including family and extended family, and for many of us the first time enjoying the club atmosphere and warmth since pre-pandemic times. Team captain Jack presented the trophy to President Simon Mullen who congratulated the U13’s and reflected on another trophy to add to the cabinet this season. Our fairy tale day ended with the match on the big screen followed by a little bit of a tidy up of the hall from the few who were still awake! Next up for the U13’s is a long awaited trip to France this weekend to compete for the "Trophee Jean Romeau" in Biarritz. We can't wait!