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The College was buzzing on Saturday as sport took centre stage once again.  In the afternoon the main events of Sports Day took place, with pupils assigned to one of four teams (red, blue, green and white). The campus was awash with colour as the pupils competed in a wide range of events ranging from the traditional track and field fare (short & long distance running, long jump, high jump etc) to skills based challenges (cricket throw, rugby conversions, soccer penalties, basketball throws etc) to some less traditional events (like the three-legged and caterpillar race). The final races are traditionally the “cloister dash” – a 100 yard sprint from the Hurley Lane gate to Chapel Square. The race is only contested by Form VI pupils and the winners this year were Sasha Cole and Franz Truchsess. Well done to everyone who competed – Sports Day is, for many, the highlight of the year and this year certainly didn’t disappoint. Well done to everyone on the Blue Team for amassing the most points over all the events. Many thanks to Ms. Thompson and Mrs. Johnson, in particular, but to all the teaching and sports coaching staff for their seamless running of the day’s events.

That evening the College’s sporting successes were celebrated at our annual Sports Dinner, with ‘colours’ awarded to those pupils who have excelled in their chosen sports this year. Colours for Rugby were presented to Sean Cooper, Hector Wright, Adam Murphy, Max Hopkins, Kosi Anyim and Joe Gernon. In Basketball, colours were presented to Ryan Gumsheimer, Franz Truchsess and Tiernan Mullane. In Hockey, colours were presented to Ivan Moffit, Sean Cooper, Kitty Morris, Sasha Cole and Ella Noeldeke and in Cricket, colours were awarded to Helen Crampton. The overall Sports Pupils of the Year were awarded to Sean Cooper and Kitty Morris, for their contribution to College sport over the past six years.

Below are a series of photographs, taken by Rev. Owen, from the weekend’s sporting events.

The Senior Rugby Team failed to defend their Leinster Schools League 2A title yesterday, losing an at times frantic final 31-45 against Ardee Community School in Ashbourne. The rugby on show as of an exceptionally high standard, with both teams using their physical runners to great effect but showing a determination in defence. It was Ardee who started the brighter, maintaining possession in St. Columba’s half for the early period. They soon turned the possession into points, converted a simple penalty in front of the posts. Their team was extremely well drilled and blessed with powerful and effective ball carriers, especially at prop, No.8 and in the centre. They continued to pressurise through possession, eventually dotting down for a try under the posts to lead 0-10. St. Columba’s, playing against a powerful wind in the first half, soon found their feet and some excellent ball carrying from Max Hopkins and Kosi Anyim brought them close to the Ardee line. The ball was recycled quickly – by scrum-half Thady McKeever – to centre Hector Wright who powered over. Thady missed the conversion (the wind was a big factor) but SCC were back in it. St. Columba’s continued to play well and maintain possession but couldn’t penetrate the Ardee line. The Louth side soon regained possession, off loose St. Columba’s play, and scored an opportunistic try just before the end of the first half to lead 5-17 at the break. The supporters on the sideline were optimistic that, with the wind on their backs, St. Columba’s could get back into the game.

The reigning champions started the second half brightly and soon crossed the white line again, this time through Kosi Anyim and converted by Thady McKeever. At 17-12, St. Columba’s were right back in this. But then, the sucker punch. Straight from the restart Ardee pounced on unsecured possession and scored under the posts. St. Columba’s heads dropped while Ardee rallied. They scored two more tries within five minutes and the game seemed all but over with twenty five minutes remaining. They now led 38-12 and there seemed little hope remained for the defending champions. However, St. Columba’s fought back, after some harsh words from their captain Sean Cooper under the posts. They scored quickly after the restart, with Hector Wright crossing for this second try, with McKeever converting. Another try soon followed, after some of the substitutes combined to turn defence into attack on the SCC ’22’. The same substitutes, Rowan Sweeney and Joel Taylor, finished off the move with Joel touching down in the corner. The score now stood at 38-24 and there was a glimmer of hope. Ardee were beginning to tire and the St. Columba’s power runners were stepping up again – Hector, Hopkins and Anyim carried hard but a lack of patience inside the Ardee ’22’ meant they couldn’t get closer on the score board. In fact it was Ardee who scored next, their powerful prop forward picking from the base of the ruck, close to the line, and powering over. They converted and the score now stood at 45-24, and the final flicker of hope seemed to extinguish from the travelling supporters in the stand. Again, to the enormous credit of the whole team and their coaches, St. Columba’s refused to give up. They secured possession from the restart and quickly worked their way back into the Ardee ’22’. Eventually, after an extended period of possession, they scored again – this time through Thady McKeever – who converted his own score. And that was how it ended – a final score of 45-31 and, in truth, a deserved win for Ardee.

St. Columba’s can feel an enormous sense of pride for the manner of the defeat though. Ardee were an excellent side, with some truly exceptional athletes, but St. Columba’s gave them an epic contest. But for that period after half time, when those three quick tries were scored, St. Columba’s were in this all day. The large crowd were happy, perhaps not with the result but certainly with the manner of how the game was played. Congratulations to Ardee Community School and hopefully the two sides will meet again in next year’s final.

Basketball has always been a popular and successful sport for the College, especially with the girls, but there are probably more pupils playing the sport in the College now than ever before. The Senior Boys recently faced St.Michael’s in the 3rd and 4th place play-off in the EAST Region League. The two teams had met earlier in the league campaign with Michaels winning comfortably. With some well planned defensive adjustments the team put in a hugely passionate and focused effort in the rematch. The game was a tightly fought content with no more that 3-5 points separating the teams throughout the game. We led the game for most of the last quarter with a fine display of defensive rebounding and good shot selection. However, a few tough refereeing calls down the straight and undisciplined fouls gave Michaels the opportunity they needed in the final minute. They hit two free throws with seconds left to win the game 33-32. The loss here meant that team would have to go through a further qualification game to reach the All-Ireland. On Jan 15th they traveled to Heywood School in Portlaoise for another close fought contest. The journey was still in their legs for the first quarter and Heywood took an early lead. Good inside play by Tiernan Mullane and Ryan Gumsheimer helped to close the gap. Defensively the team were solid but missed some easy baskets down the line with Heywood taking the prized place by the narrow margin of 6 points.

The Cadette Girls had a very competitive league campaign. The kicked off the play-off’s for the South Dublin League with a super display of basketball against Mt. Anville. This was probably one of the best games the team played as a unit. Co-Captains Lucia Masding and Elena Witte lead by example controlling the game, winning the boards and orchestrating the fastbreak. By the third quarter the game was over with a clear 20 point lead to finish the game. 36-16. Their semi-final game was indeed a different scenario. Dalkey was a much more orgainsed team whom they had narrowly beated in the league by 1 point. The January flu had decimated the team and due the the time constraints the fixture could not be changed. Half the team were ill, or just recovering, so we knew it was going to be tough. Despite this the girls put up a solid performance but unfortuantley lost 23-27. Heart breaking!! The Junior and Minor teams have been training hard since September and finally began their leagues in January. Both teams are performing very well with the Juniors 4-2 and the Minors 5-1 in their league games.

In rugby, both the Junior and Senior teams lost their cup matches last term but had plenty of fixtures, mainly in their respective leagues, over January. The Juniors also played in a Shield competition but lost out to near neighbours De la Salle Churchtown on a scoreline of 0-21. Their league campaign has been a mixed one, playing against the 2nds and 3rds of some of the bigger rugby schools. They earned a deserved draw away to Kilkenny College’s J2s but were beaten heavily by Blackrock’s slick J3 squad last Saturday. On Wednesday last they travelled to Clongowes Wood and grabbed a great 24-22 win against their J2s (with some excellent tries from Cian Mullane, Jack Hayes, Thomas Somerville and Oliver Townsend), but it wasn’t enough to progress to the next stage of the competition. The Seniors have played two League fixtures, against Gonzaga 2nds (winning 22-5) and Terenure Thirds (losing 11-22) and face Roscrea after half-term to secure a place in the next round. The Ducks have played two games and continue their winning run, defeating De la Salle and Wilson’s Hospital with some excellent performances.

It’s been a busy period for the College’s hockey teams too. The Senior boys spent the early part of their term preparing for their Cup fixture against Kings Hospital but sadly they lost out narrowly 1-2. They have since been preoccupied with the Senior B league and had a good win (4-1) over Wesley B’s recently. This meant they finished 3rd in their group and would play St. Andrew’s B in the semi final. They won 4-0 and await either Kilkenny or Wesley B in the final on March 7th. Both the Under 13’s and Under 14’s reached the quarter finals of their respective cups – The U13’s losing out in a competitive games to St. Andrew’s A (0-2) while the U14’s take on Kilian’s after half term. The Junior XI unfortunately lost their second round cup fixture against High School (1-3). However, they have a league semi-final to look forward to after half term against Kilkenny College.

The Senior girls competed in an indoor hockey tournament earlier this term, playing three matches. They defeated St. Andrew’s 4-1 and Wesley 6-0 but lost out to the eventual winners Mount Temple (1-3). They got revenge of sorts a week later, this time outdoors, defeating Mount Temple 2-0 in the League. They also since had a good win against Loreto Bray, 3-0. Of course there is a huge number of hockey teams in the College, and many more fixtures which have taken place over the past five weeks – a huge amount of thanks and credit go to their respective coaches.

Thady McKeever evades some St. Michael’s defenders in a friendly earlier this term. Photo by Daniel Owen.

The Senior Rugby Team’s cup run ended on Tuesday last with defeat to Coláiste Bríd Carnew on a scoreline of 17-24 in the quarter final of the McMullen Cup. (The team had comfortably defeated Ardscoil na Trínóide and Coláiste Cill Mhantáin in the previous two rounds). The boys will rue their high penalty count, which gifted Carnew possession and territory for much of the second half, and a penalty try that ultimately separated the teams at the end. However, the boys finished top of their section of the league and can look forward to the quarter final of that competition next term.

The Junior Squad unfortunately lost their first round cup match, against Ardscoil na Trínóide in Athy. It was a close run affair but a late try from the visitors meant they advanced on a scoreline of 12-14. Earlier this week they lost to Kings Hospital JCT B team on a scoreline of 19-0 but it was an excellent game and the boys played very well – the scoreline perhaps flattering the home team a little.

The Leps and Ducks have been had a busy period since half term too and are really showing signs of improving. The Leps defeated St. Paul’s 38-15 with some of the boys new to the sport really excelling. The Ducks have continued their fine form too defeating arch-rivals Headfort in a typically great game and last week they comfortably defeated St. Pauls 28-7. The future looks bright!

The Form I girls hockey team warm up before their tournament.

The Girls Hockey Senior 1st XI unfortunately lost their cup match (0-2) against Loreto Beaufort recently. The girls played extremely well, with some phases of really great play in the first half, when there were chances to score. They soaked up a lot of pressure defensively in that first period too, which ended 0-0. Unfortunately Beaufort took their chances when they came in the second half, scoring two good goals. They left disappointed but happy that they gave a good account of themselves too. The Junior Girls played their first round cup match on Wednesday last but were well beaten by a well drilled Wesley side, 7-0. The Form I Girls took part in a League Tournament on Wednesday against Sutton Park & Drogheda Grammar, defeating Sutton by 2-0 and drawing with Drogheda 2-2.

The boys’ hockey leagues are almost wrapped for Christmas with only a few re-fixed matches to be played.  The Seniors have got themselves back on track with a narrow 3-2 win over St Kilians and a draw against Mt Temple. They have one league match left against Wesley B’s and a win will earn them a spot in the Senior B League semi-final.
The Juniors have performed well with wins over Mt. Temple and Wesley B as well as a draw with St Kilians.  Their fixture against Newpark would determine the rest of their season, the prize of a win would be a place in the A-League Semi-Finals. Unfortunately, on the day of the match, we had a number of players unavailable and we ended up losing 1-3.  Perhaps with a full strength team things might have been different but congratulations to Marco Trolese and Bruno Marti Jimenez in first form for making their debut on the Junior team.
The U-14’s s are battling away in their league where they have a shot at making the semi finals.  They have also progressed through to the second round of the minor cup with a win over Newpark on strokes.  The U-13’s are starting to find their feet and they have put in some fantastic performances lately.  Their first win of the season came against a strong St. Kilian’s team and they also managed a draw against the more fancied Newpark team.  They have a lot of potential and are a team to watch in the future.

Pupils participating in the annual Christmas Basketball Blitz.

In basketball the Cadette A’s reached the East Region Semi-finals , which unfortunately needed to be played during the exams. The team traveled to Pobail Scoil Setanta in Blanchardstown and though they gave a spirited performance, the height and strength on our opponents was too much on the day with the final score at 32-24. They are still involved in the south Dublin league and will play their quarter final in the new year.

The senior boys have had a very busy and exciting few weeks. They continued to perform well in the East Region League and progressed to the playoff stages. They met Collinstown CC in the quarter final on Nov 22nd and won a closely fought match 63-54 with good performances from team captain Tiernan Mullane, Tobias Voelsgen and Jakob Habsburg. The following week, again during the exams, they played their semifinal against Old Bawn CC, who boast an Irish U17 international in Okoko Ogbe. Though the game was close Old Bawn were in control of the game and ran out easy winners in the end.

Although out of the East Region League they still had a opportunity to reach the All Ireland Play-off’s with a re-match with local rivals St. Michael’s last week – it was an exciting and riveting game. The defensive strategy really paid off and the team controlled their key scores for most of the game. The lead changed hands several time in a very tense match. With less than a minute to go Columba’s were trailing by two and a last minute well executed play saw the final basket clinch a draw and overtime. Despite all efforts, some unforced turnovers gave St. Michael’s the edge and they won by the narrowest of margins in this heart breaking loss. The following day the team received news that they still had a chance to reach the All Ireland’s  and will compete in a further playoff against a Midlands team Heywood College in the new year.

The term ended with the traditional Christmas Basketball Blitz with staff and pupils showing off their skills, getting in the festive spirit and having fun at the same time.

Mr. Ryan reports on the Senior Rugby team’s recent success.

On Tuesday last the Senior Rugby XV continued their winning streak as they packed down against a dogged and physical Coláiste Cill Mhantain side on home soil. The game was only a mere seven seconds old when SCC’s flanker James Wilkinson was very harshly shown a red card for what the referee deemed to be a dangerous tip tackle, sending SCC management and fans into a state of turmoil. What management and fans did not realise was that this was the catalyst which sparked what was to undoubtedly become one of the finest displays of never say die rugby ever witnessed here in SCC.

Cill Mhantain struck first with a converted try following a penalty inside the St. Columba’s twenty two, their advantage was doubled eight minutes later with a breakaway try from a gathered lineout inside their own half, the scoreboard now read 14-0, but things were about to get worse.

Cill Mhantain raced into a 19-7 lead, however, SCC’s opening try from Kosi Emmanuel – Anyim with the conversion by centre Hector Wright added some stability to the home sides’ endeavours. SCC struck again following a break inside their own half with a fabulous kick for the line by Ivan Moffitt who was now beginning to dictate the ebb and flow of the Columban back line. The lineout was won and brought down for the SCC forwards to drive for the line. Tipperary’s Joseph Gernon rolled over the line with the conversion being sweetly slotted by Thady McKeever, the score now read 19-14, SCC were on the march.

The passion and sheer determination of the SCC pack was infectious with students and parents dotted around the sidelines roaring their approval. A lineout inside the Cill Mhantain ten metre line was collected by Adam Murphy who was escorted over the line by a fantastic forwards pack, Thady McKeever stepped up to take a conversion at what many would call an impossible angle. However, the acuteness and pressure of the kick completely unfazed young Thady who nailed the conversion much to the delight of the vocal crowd. Somehow the scoreboard now read St. Columbas 21, Cill Mhantain 19, but SCC were not finished yet.

Thady McKeever’s touchline conversion bisects the posts to put SCC in the lead for the first time in the match.

A kick over the top bounced sweetly for the rampaging Moriz Boyen who was taken out by a sweeping leg from the Cill Mhantain outhalf stopping a certain try, but Seán Cooper darted to collect the ball and with great poise dove under the posts for SCC’s fourth try of the game, which was complimented by the trusty boot of Thady McKeever who pinged the ball between the posts to end the game 28-19 in favour of the SCC side.

Not only did Columbas play the entire game with 14 men, they had to endure two sin-binnings in either half which left the side reduced to 13 men for a total of twenty minutes. This game was a privilege to witness as the likes of it are rarely seen at an international standard let alone schoolboy rugby. Confidence is high within the SCC camp and rightly so, but there is more to come from this dogged side and we eagerly look forward to our upcoming game in Gorey RFC against Carnew on Tuesday December 12th.

The first four full weeks of term have zipped by and every member of the school community, teachers and pupils, have been extremely busy, on all matters. On the sports field this has been particularly evident with pupils participating in six days of compulsory sports each week. The College sports programme is second to none, with pupils participating in a wide range of competitive and non-competitive sports. The main College sports for the first two terms are rugby, hockey (boys & girls) and basketball (boys and girls) although pupils are also actively involved in polocrosse, archery, AGC and, more recently, sailing.

Hockey is a very popular sport in the College and we have seen a lot of success, at both Junior and Senior, for the boys’ and girls’ teams. However, the boys Senior XI team have had mixed success this season, with a good win against a Wesley B side (2-0, goals from Marc Philipp Eichhorn and Ivan Moffitt) after a tough loss away to St. Andrew’s A/B side (3-0). However, the most disappointing results so far were on Thursday last, when the boys hosted the All Ireland Qualifiers against Newpark Comprehensive & Kilkenny College. The first game was tight with Newpark winning 1-0, despite a lot of chances from the home side. However, SCC lost their shape in the second game losing to Kilkenny 3-0. Sadly they won’t be travelling to the All Ireland competition this year.

The girls Senior XI have had a solid start to the season, winning one game and losing one game. The win came against Mount Temple, winning on a scoreline of 4-2, with Kitty Morris scoring twice and Abigail O’Brien & Ella Noeldeke adding the others. The loss came against Loreto Bray, on a scoreline of 1-2 (Ella Noeldeke getting the SCC goal). It was a whitewash that day, with the 2nd XI and 3rd XI also losing to Loreto Bray. The girls Junior A side have played two games so far this, winning 2-1 against near neighbours Wesley College (Eile Ni Chianain & Aurora Higgins-Jennings with the goals) but sadly losing 0-5 against Mount Anville.

The rugby season is already in full swing and our teams are showing great promise. The Senior Cup Team (SCT) and Junior Cup Team (JCT) have begun their league campaigns, while the Ducks (1st year boys) have been involved in a round robin tournament with near neighbours De la Salle Churchtown.

The Senior squad got their season off to a promising fashion, although their game against a Wesley Development XV did end in defeat (21-20). Max Hopkins and Hector Wright both scored powerful tries in the first five minutes but both conversions were missed – both relatively straightforward. Their coach, Mr. Mitchell, made a lot of changes to the side, ensuring all members of the squad got a run out. This did mean the team lost a bit of shape and structure and Wesley came back into well. Hector and Max both crossed for late tries but further missed kicks proved the difference. They received a walk-over in their first league fixture, scheduled for last week, but got to stretch their legs in a friendly game against De la Salle Churchtown on Thursday last winning by a scoreline of 26-14, with tries from Max Hopkins, Ferdinand Kuenhe, Tobias Onyeka-Patrick and Hector Wright. Thady McKeever added three conversions. It was a fantastic game, with excellent attacking rugby on show from both teams including a stunning individual try at the death from the De la Salle out-half.

The Junior squad played their first game of the season away to Terenure College, playing their Junior 3 team. It was a comfortable win for the visiting team with six tries in total scored by the Columbans (Scorers: Mikael Sukhachev, Clement Jacquot, Ben Sigurvinsson, Leo Moreau, Harry Petch & Henry Johnson, conversions by Matthew Russell 3 & Ollie Townshend). The game ended 38-0 and it was very encouraging to see the boys keep a clean sheet. Confidence was high heading into their first league fixture, again against near neighbours De la Salle Churchtown. Columba’s started really well and were in full control of the game in the first half. With 20 minutes remaining they led 20-10, after tries from Thomas Somerville and Matthew Russell, both converted by Russell and an additional two penalties (also by Russell). However, the referee handed Columba’s two yellow cards in quick succession, both for high tackles, and the game swung to the visiting side. They scored two tries and won the game 20-27.  A harsh lesson for the boys.

The Ducks also played their first few games of the season, this time away to De la Salle Churchtown.  As there were only 6 training sessions since the start of term, the boys played small sided games on a half pitch as they hadn’t practised the technicalities of rucking and mauling or the set-pieces of scrums and line outs. In the bright warm September sun the boys were divided up into two squads (the Lions and the Barbarians). They both played two matches and won one each. This was a good start to the season with many work-ons noted by the coaches. The Leps will play their first match after exodus – a lot of new pupils skill finding their feet there.

In basketball, it’s been a fairly solid start for our Senior Boys and Cadette girls, with a tight win over Wesley for the boys 49-48 and the girls kicked off their league campaign with a 21-18 win over St. Andrews. As reported last week, the College sailing team did the school proud at the All Ireland Inter-Schools Sailing Event. Click here to find out more.

 

Due to the pouring rain on Saturday morning and afternoon the sports day was postponed to the following Wednesday. However the Sports Dinner was conducted that evening with Dan van Zyl as the guest of honour. A South-African rugby player and cricketer, he has represented his country at both sports to the highest level. It was very interesting to hear of his sporting career and his inspirational words after he had issued the awards. The following were announced as the captains and secretaries for next season.

Cricket: Captain: Ivan Moffitt Secretary: Thaddy McKeever

Rugby: Captain: Sean Cooper Vice Capt: Joseph Gernon

Secretary: Hector Wright

Girls’ cricket: Captain: Helen Crampton

Boys’ basketball: Captain: Tiernan Mullane Secretary: Franz Truchsess

Girls’ Basketball: Captain: Adaze Mbanefo Secretary:  Helen Crampton

Girl’s Hockey: Captain: Sasha Cole Secretary:  Helen Crampton

Boys’ Hockey: Captain: Marc Philipp Eichhorn   Secretary:  Ivan Moffitt

Tennis: Captain:Tiernan Mullane (boys), Kim Voggel (girls)

Athletics: Captain: Julius Schaefer (boys)

The following were awarded Colours and pictured above with Dan van Zyl.

Rugby: Douglas Boyd Crotty, Freddie Johnson, Michael Kennedy, Igor Petrenko.

Girls’ Basketball: Ciara Murray.

Boys’ Hockey: Eckart Geyer.

 

The Senior Rugby XV won the Leinster League Division 2A final on Wednesday, defeating Tullow Community School 28-10 at Old Belvedere. It was the first rugby trophy won by SCC since 2008. In a pulsating game of rugby, St. Columba’s withstood the early pressure and dominance from Tullow, to kick on in the second half and take the victory.

The opening ten minutes saw Tullow dominate possession and territory. St. Columba’s were defending well but eventually the pressure told and Tullow scored the opening try, which they duly converted  and they lead 0-7. The restarted afforded SCC the chance to take the ball out of their half. A well struck restart was won back by SCC and they started to string some phases together. The pressure led to a series of penalties being awarded to St. Columba’s, with Henry Carroll slotting his second chance to bring the score to 3-7.

Tullow came back at SCC but some great work by the forwards and excellent drift defence meant they couldn’t make any further inroads. St. Columba’s came back though and team captain Douglas Boyd Crotty bamboozled the Tullow defence to race from his own half and touch down for a try. Henry Carroll failed to land the difficult conversion but SCC led 8-7. It soon became 11-7 as Henry slotted over a good penalty after Tullow failed to roll away. However, just before half time, Tullow also scored a penalty after some more good pressure – they were playing really well but the final pass wasn’t clicking for them at times or the scrambling defence of SCC were closing them down. At half time it was on a knife edge at 11-10 – SCC with the slimmest of leads.

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There was a lot of nervousness amongst the huge Columban support – teachers, pupils, parents and past pupils – with many feeling Tullow had had the better chances and our boys were simply hanging on. But the more confident amongst the crowd expected a thrilling second 35 minutes from St. Columba’s – and so proved the case.

Another excellent (unconverted) individual try from Aifo Ebeleghe – who had a fantastic game overall – pushed St. Columba’s out to 16 – 10. A six point lead makes coaches very nervous – the crowd weren’t too comfortable either. It seemed that St. Columba’s were lucky to be ahead – their line-out was having a bad day and a number of scrums were turned over – but in truth their defence was putting enormous pressure on Tullow and they continued to make mistakes inside the SCC 22. St. Columba’s made no such mistakes when the opportunities presented themselves and when Douglas Boyd Crotty cleaned up some loose ball, offloaded excellently to Ivan Moffitt, they made great progress up the right hand side. Max Hopkins then carried strongly, aided by his team mates behind him, then Seán Cooper fed Hector Wright. He brushed off a few weak tackles and went over for another excellent try – the nervousness fizzled out and was replaced by belief. Another missed conversion left the gap at 11 points but Tullow were a little rattled now and St. Columba’s couldn’t do any wrong. (See Hector’s Try by clicking on the link on the top right)

Tullow were reduced to 14 men after a late hit on Seán Cooper at the ruck and then Douglas Boyd Crotty put the game beyond all doubt with another brilliant individual try. A fantastic step off his left foot created the space in midfield to race over and dot down under the posts. Callum Pery Knox Gore added the easy conversion and now the sizeable Columban support could rest easy – the score 28-10. In the semi final Tullow had to overcome a 17 deficient to reach the final but in this game they were scoreless in the second half – a true testament to the defensive efforts of St. Columba’s.

The final whistle blew and the Old Belevedere pitch was covered in a sea of green and white. Well done to all involved, including the coaching team of Mr. Andrew Mitchel (Head Coach), Mike Elliot Murray, Graham Dean (Strength & Conditioning) and Paul Cron (Head of Rugby).

 

Congratulations to the Senior First XV who have reached the Leinster League Division 2 Final. They defeated Drogheda Grammar in the semi-final yesterday, in appalling conditions, by a scoreline of 12-3. Early tries from Max Hopkins and Michael Kennedy, with a conversion from Henry Carroll, were enough to secure the final place – which will likely be played next week. Well done also to their Head Coach Mr Mitchel and his team.

Meanwhile, the Leps played a series of friendly games over the past two weeks. First up were near neighbours De la Salle Churchtown, who proved too strong and we lost 12-7 – our try coming from try machine Jose Fominaya and converted by Matthew Russell. They had better luck the following week again a St. Mary’s D side, winning with an impressive scoreline of 45-24.  Tries from Matthew Russell, Ollie Townsend, Thomas Somerville, Harry Petch, Mikhail Sukhachev, Jose Fominaya (yes, him again) and Matthew Keaveney (a try that will love long in the memory of those in attendance) secured a good win. Matthew Russell converted three, Fintan Walsh one and Jose even slotted a kick over (not bad for a hooker).

Since returning from exodus all the College’s rugby teams have been busy. Our Senior 1st XV travelled to Gorey last week to take on Coláiste Bríd Carnew – for the second time in as many weeks. Having beaten SCC recently in the first round of the cup – before being beaten themselves by Tullow the following week – Carnew found themselves drawn against St. Columba’s in the shield competition. Unfortunately, the game was an ill-tempered affair and Carnew proved just too strong for our boys yet again. Disappointingly for St. Columba’s, the game ended 10-0 to the Wicklow school.

Our Senior Development XV (comprising boys from Form IV and V only) were involved in two really competitive games over the past week. On Friday last, on the wonderful 4G pitch in Donnybrook (and under lights), our boys took on club-side Bective Rovers U17’s. It was a great open game of rugby in which Bective eventually left as winners, despite being down by 7 points with a few minutes to go. But two late tries from the home side saw the game swing in what seemed like an instant – it ended 29-22 to Bective. They will need to learn to close out these tight games in the future. Yesterday the Development XV took on a High School Transition Year side. It was a cracking game with a brilliant try from the ever improving Moritz Boyen the highlight. It was to be our only score though and the game ended 10-5 to High School.

Our Junior boys have also played two games since the exodus. First up was a friendly against near neighbours De la Salle Churchtown at home on Kilmashogue Lane. In a scrappy game, Thady McKeever again stood tall as a strong leader nabbing a try himself and converting one from Philip Shekelton. But it was their defence which really stood tall and the game ended in victory for our boys, 12-5 to the home team. Their second game of the week was against Gorey Community School in the Junior Shield match. Ireland’s largest school were simply too strong for them and they ran out comfortable winners 48-12. Again, Thady scored one try and converted another, scored by Julio Perez Cervera. They now look forward to a well earned break and a new league campaign in the new year.

Our youngest boys were also in action. The Leps had it tough against St. Michaels 2nd Year C’s, losing 38-0. The Ducks played in a ’round robin’ series of games against Terenure College and Belvedere College (both their 1st Year C’s). They lost their first game against Terenure by just two points. Tries from Jack Hayes, Marcus O’Connor and Tom Larke (also with one conversion) weren’t enough and they lost 19-17. However, they picked themselves up and defeated the Belvedere side, on a scoreline of 12-5, with Tom Larke again touching down (and converting) and Dennis Cullen getting the winning score.

It’s been a really busy term for our boys. Luckily, despite some of the results, the atmosphere has remained positive and there is a tremendous willingness to learn. Perhaps the relatively mild and dry weather also played a part, as well as trips to the Aviva to see Ireland play Canada, New Zealand and Australia. A huge thank you to all the rugby coaches for their dedication and commitment this term but, in particular, to Head of Rugby (and Boy’s Sport) Paul Cron for the huge amount of (often unseen) work done to ensure all teams train and play regularly in a safe, fun and enriching learning environment.

Merry Christmas!

Both the JCT and SCT Rugby teams played their first round cup matches this week. On Monday, the JCT took on St. Conleth’s at Wanders RFC in the first round of the Duff Cup. St. Conleth’s had lost out to SCC after a replay last year – two fantastic games – and revenge was on the cards and, as they say, it’s best served cold.

St. Conleth’s started the game with intent and soon were on the scoreboard. Their outside centre was a pacey and elusive runner and he bamboozled the SCC defence. He sailed past some despairing Columba’s tackling, outrunning them on the outside, and then converted his own try – there was barely a minute on the clock. To their credit St. Columba’s regrouped and resorted to keeping the game tight – their pack on the ascendancy. The pressure told and St. Columba’s were soon on the scoreboard through Jose Fominaya. Captain Thady McKeever couldn’t convert the try but it mattered little (or so we thought) as Jose dotted down again shortly afterwards for SCC’s second score. This time Thady added the extras and they were leading 12-7 at half time.

St. Conleths changed their tack in the second half, also keeping it tight, and soon their forwards were rewarded with a try of their own. It wasn’t converted and the game was on a knife edge at 12-12. But St. Columba’s regrouped again and soon started the dominate up front again. Sam Lawrence finished off some good forward work smashing over the line to score. Unfortunately, Thady couldn’t add the vital extras and the game was still up for grabs. After the try St. Columba’s remained dominant and were camped firmly in Conleth’s half as the end of the match approached. All they needed to do was hold on to possession and the game was theirs. Sadly, Conleth’s turned the ball over with a minute on the clock and it made it’s way to their outside centre who simply had too much gas. He was not going to be stopped. With the game at 17-17 and the clock up, St. Conleth’s had an easy conversion to win the game. They scored it and celebrated. St. Columba’s were left dejected. The JCT will now enter the plate competition with a chance of silverware still on the cards.

The SCT Squad after their cup match, with their coaches Corey McCarthy and Andrew Mitchell.

The SCT Squad travelled to Gorey RFC on Wednesday to take on Coláiste Bríd from Carnew  – a team SCC had never faced before in a competitive fixture. With confidence high after a relatively good start to the season (and despite a recent drubbing by Wilson’s Hospital) the squad left SCC in a determined mood. It has been a number of years since St. Columba’s have managed to win a McMullen Cup fixture and this group of players, led by Max Hillary, were eager to end that losing run.

With the wind at their backs St. Columba’s began intent on keeping the ball in hand and backing their skills. However, they tried to play too much rugby in their own half, never really playing the possession game well throughout, and basic errors allowed Carnew easy and continuous possession in opposition territory. A penalty from Carnew pushed them to a slim 3-0 lead before Captain Max Hillery suffered a knee injury just before the half time whistle. It was a big blow and  forced the game to be moved to another pitch. The second half continued along similar lines as the first with St. Columba’s still pitched in their own half. They really struggled to string phases together and adapt to the referee. Eventually Carnew’s pressure told and they scored an opportunistic try from a basic defensive error at a line out. They failed to convert. The score was 8-0. SCC lost Freddie Johnson to a shoulder injury and all seemed lost. But finally, with 10 minutes left on the clock, St. Columba’s began to play territory, kicking the ball behind the Carnew defence and putting themselves in field positions to attack. Sustained possession and pressure told and St. Columba’s were awarded a kickable penalty – Hector Wright slotting it over to bring it to 8-3. With 5 minutes to go the momentum had swung in SCC’s favour and they were camped in Carnew’s 22 for this period. However, a lack of composure and some basic errors let them down and they never got over the line. Carnew won a relieving penalty close to their try line (for “squeeze ball” – an offence punished a number of times for both teams throughout the game – we should have adapted) and held out to win.

St. Columba’s returned home licking their wounds and wondering what happened. They too enter a plate competition next term but will need to learn to show composure in big knock out games if they are to progress.

Two narrow losses but lots of potential. Cup rugby never fails to deliver drama.