Posted: 27th February 2014

Clongowes Wood College 3: Belvedere College 29

As Belvedere pulled away late in the second half to put the final nail in the Clongowes coffin, Sean McCrohan and his side could do little but sigh in exasperation. It really was one of those days. With some shuddering early hits and a massive penalty from out-half Tom Monaghan, Clongowes looked primed for a big performance. Unfortunately that never materialised.

The old adage states that you create your own luck. Having watched this Junior squad from afar over these past months however, one would be tempted to consign that notion to the waste. Coming off the field on Wednesday, each man bore the hallmarks of wholesale battle -sweated, battered and bloodied. Their coaches could not have asked for more. Yet, frustratingly, despite their tireless endeavour, they had little to salvage from their efforts. They had faced the perfect storm.

An early knock-on over the line by Belvedere aside, the ball ultimately failed to rebound in the direction of purple for the duration of this fixture. In some senses the phases of play that preceded the concluding score epitomised it as a contest. As the clock ticked into its final moments, some healthy possession suggested Clongowes were set to make a late dent on the scoreboard. Yet, having recycled the ball through five phases deep into the Belvedere red zone, a loose pass found itself in opposition hands and off the Dublin school set on a breakaway canter piling further unnecessary anguish on their Kildare opponents.

On reflection, the JCT 2014 might cite the daunting surrounds of Donnybrook or the unfortunate second-half intercept that killed the tie, but in truth their failing was out of their hands. A competent Clongowes faced a Belvedere side that exhibited the confident gait of champions. Although they won’t recognise it now, the true value of Junior rugby lies not in any trophy cabinet, but in the friendship and pride that the journey manifests. The first few days in the aftermath of any defeat are tough, but ultimately these Clongowes boys will be tougher for the experience. As with any Junior side they will come again in future years and perhaps then they might rid themselves of any painful schools’ rugby memories.

It was undoubtedly a disappointing climax for Mr Emmet Condron, Mr Stephen O’Hara and Mr Barry Bowen. Their commitment to the cause deserved more. Furthermore, the leadership demonstrated by Sean McCrohan, his trusted ally Sean McMahon, and indeed the entire panel must be commended. Yesterday hurt like no other. But sadly, no amount of work can dictate the bounce of an oval shaped ball.

Mr Richard McElwee

If you’re looking for an early chance to cure the cup rugby blues then come along to Donnybrook next Tuesday (4th March) at 16.00 to cheer on the Clongowes SCT in their semi-final match against St Andrew’s College.

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