Connacht Development Cup Champions

Coláiste Éinde Senior Rugby team have made History this afternoon in winning the Connacht Development Cup for the first time when they beat Clifden Community school by 10 – 7  in the Sportsground.

St Endas College: 10

Clifden Community: 7

By Rob Murphy

The Connacht Branch got this one spot on. Holding a Development Cup final on the main pitch of the Sportsground on the same day as the Senior Cup final makes perfect sense and these two emerging schools produced a brilliant contest from start to finish.

Champions

St Endas College were worthy winners in the end overturning a seven point half time deficit to secure a first ever Senior title and laying down a marker for future generations in a school well known for its sporting endeavours but not in the field of rugby.

Any hopes of an expansion of schools rugby in this province rest on the success of schools like Wednesday’s finalists, Clifden have been on the fringe of the top eight for some time now and have that 1975 title to their name which shows tradition and pedigree but it’s going to take a lot of work to get them into the top four.

St Enda’s College by contrast are a much newer to the scene having only kick started rugby in the school five years ago making a Junior Development Cup semi with this very sides two seasons ago. In the interim they’ve developed and this performance underlines as much.

In sunny, cold and windy conditions. Clifden had the aide of that wind in the first half and certainly had plenty of the play but it took them to the final minute to get the first score.

Their captain Patrick King got it, chasing his own garryowen and capitlising on an error to collect and race home for the try which was converted by the hard working and powerful centre Jack Shannon for a 7-0 half time lead.

Connacht Development champions

St Enda College answered straight after half time with a brilliant try. It started with a break 35 metres out and quick hands from captain Finn Stoneman and hugely influential hooker Aaron Byrne released John Gately who passed back inside to Stoneman who was stopped just short.

He had set the platform though and powerful prop Joseph Ugbo – who has been hugely effective as a ball carrier to that point – powered over. The conversion from Stephen Killeen leveled matters with the second half only two minutes old.

The wind played a part but St Enda’s had most of the territorial advantage in the second half, Clifden carried well and retained ball thanks to a strong scrum. James O’Toole was key to that, John Joyce stood out too while Emmet Madden and Alan Conroy were effective at the breakdown.

In the end however, an expansive game and hard work helped Endas to the win with Rory O’Connor and Michael O’Connell standing out in the second half and playing their part in getting their side into position for the winning score from Keller, a penalty in front of the posts in the 68th minute.

St Enda’s College: S Killeen; J Gately, F Stoneman, E S Lundy, R Phelan; D Connolly, K Mularkey; R Ryan, A Byrne, J Ugbo; F Aguilar, S Strohammer; D Griffin, M O’Connell, R O’Connor.

Replacements: S Nachev for Aguilar h/t; L Fahy for Griffin; C Kilbane for Fahy.

Clifden Community School: C Clarke; B Rima, D Doyle, H Shannon, C Lafey; P King, J Prendergast; J O’Toole, A Conroy, M Kane; T James Berry, E Madden; G Croxford, T Joyce, J Joyce.

Replacements: C Joyce for Kane.

Ref: J Langan

Cheering on the team


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