Blackrock Make it a Junior Cup Hat-Trick

Leinster Junior Cup Final – Blackrock 15 v 13 Terenure       Sunday 22nd March, Donnybrook Stadium

Blackrock captain, Liam Turner lifts the Leinster Schools Junior Cup

Blackrock captain, Liam Turner lifts the Leinster Schools Junior Cup Photo: Leinster Rugby

During such a big weekend of rugby, it would have been easy to miss a pulsating Junior Cup Final between old enemies Blackrock and Terenure. For those whose rugby appetite was not satiated by the almost unbelievable finish to the 6 Nations (men and womens), they took to the bastion of schools rugby – Donnybrook Stadium – in their droves on a beautiful, balmy afternoon.

There’s something about schools rugby that captures the imagination, some of us remember it well whilst other relive those heady days through the nostalgic, if painfully accurate, fiction of Ross O’Carroll Kelly – schools rugby is very much engrained in our culture like it or loath it.

The fictional Castleknock man however would not have been best pleased to see his bitter rivals Blackrock College steal a last-minute win over Terenure in a low-scoring, but thoroughly entertaining game.

Blackrock outhalf, Joey Caputo, kept his nerves in check to slot over a penalty at the last gasp giving the south Dublin team their third title in a row. Joey, son of Marco – Leinster’s scrum coach, has clearly learned a level of professionalism from his father, staying calm for the decisive kick and commanding his back-line in a manner that Sexton would have been proud of.

Blackrock came into this game as slight favourites and their start to the game certainly earned them that title. ‘Rock’s backrow were unstoppable, No. 8 Liam McMahon boshing his path through Terenure’s defence whilst flanker Michael McGagh showed immense strength to power his way over the line for his first of two tries in the 15th minute.

James Nolan, Terenure College, is tackled by Adam Thompson, Blackrock College

James Nolan, Terenure College, is tackled by Adam Thompson, Blackrock College Photo: Leinster Rugby

Terenure were struggling to get up to speed until beautiful link-up play between backs and forwards saw them equalising and enabling them to gain a foot hold in the game.

Hard work at the breakdown by Terenure and an intelligent line by flanker Patrick Heneghan saw the ball rapidly moved to the wing through the hands of outhalf Dominic Henry-Hayes, to winger Luke Murnaghan who stooped low at the corner for ‘Nure to bring things level.

Terenure centre, Adam La Grue made amends for an earlier missed penalty and kicked his team into the lead in the 36th minute.

Only two minutes later a well-worked line-out maul by Terenure pushed over the Blackrock line for the second time, with prop Levi Vaughan getting the try and plaudits from his strong pack. This was the last action of the second half, with Terenure leading 13 – 5.

Blackrock regrouped at half-time and came out with an immense second-half performance. Pressure from ‘Rock saw full-back Niall Brady held up over the line and Caputo coming close only minutes later. McGagh looking for his second try was tackled wonderfully by No.8 Conor Shenton.

However only moments later McGagh got his just reward for epic pressure and during a messy breakdown at the Terenure line, managed to get the ball down with Caputo converting leaving it a 1 point game.

Much like the dramatic end to the England/France game the day before, this game had the theatrical finish to make it a memorable final with Blackrock awarded a penalty though sustained pressure on the Terenure defence – Caputo ultimately becoming the hero.

Joey Caputo kicks the last minute penalty to win the game Photo: Leinster Rugby

Joey Caputo kicks the last minute penalty to win the game Photo: James Crombie/INPHO

This brought about an end to a remarkable weekend of rugby – a weekend where time and time again Ireland’s 6 Nations title was attributed to the success of efficient systems and emphasis on feeding players through from schools rugby. Judging by the standard of rugby on display this afternoon, our future is safe.

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