A unique occasion and a unique match between two schools that had never played each other, St Fintan’s valiant effort came unstuck against a well marshalled Roscrea side, going down 29-21 in the semi-final of the Leinster Junior Cup Competition.
It was a hectic opening with the ever prominent Marcel Haas taking off up the middle for St Fintan’s and Lee Fitzpatrick snatching a turnover penalty on the floor for Roscrea.
The Offaly school side struck first blood, opting for a scrum on halfway, before switching back to the right where Rob Carney broke a tackle and put wing Fionn Higgins in with a delicious blind pass for a 12-point lead in the seventh minute.
The jinking Deegan evaded four tackles to unsettle St Fintan’s defence again. Roscrea’s Joe Finn pressed through the first line of defence only to fail to find Carney on his inside shoulder.
At this stage, St. Fintans were on the back foot, as their brave defence kept knocking over runners, with hooker Simon Cantwell and tighthead Robert Harvey working overtime. And when they tried to switch the play through Haas, the movement broke down, when Roscrea’s Higgins was onto the ball in a flash to rip down the tramline for the third try for 17-0 after just 19 minutes.
But St Fintan’s reacted positively, gaining moment with the derring-do of centres Haas and Louis Martin causing concern in broken play. But it was a temporary reprieve as a mix of skill and good fortune saw Roscrea full-back Sam Cusack in for a fourth try and a 22-0 on half-time lead for Roscrea.
St Fintan’s had no choice other than to come out firing and they duly did. They moved the ball, keeping it alive, prodding the opposition but without ever finding a soft spot in the defence. Still, there was a growing confidence creeping into the Sutton side and second row Michael Bolger splashed down for a well-constructed try for Ben Barnes to convert.
Then, centre Haas moved away from chasers for 40 metres to put St Fintan’s back in business again. Rory O’Connor-O’Hehir’s burst from the back of a scrum was a marvel and blindside Adam Coffey lunged for the line for Barnes to convert in the 44th minute before Roscrea responded in the 53rd minute to leave St. Fintan’s trailing 29-12.
But the score line did not diminish the St. Fintans resolve as they continued to compete and threaten, with Rory-O’Connor-O’Hehir touching down for the final try of the afternoon which was duly converted by Simon Fogarty at the death.
This brings to an end a wonderful campaign by the St.Fintan’s 2022 JCT. They have gone where no other St. Fintans’ team has gone before and we look forward to their future exploits and progress.
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St Fintan’s High School – Rohan O’Shea (Tad Young 55); Oisin Kelly (Andrew Boyne 53), Marcel Haas, Louis Martin, Ryan Curley; Ben Barnes (Samuel O’Leary 55), James Burke; Ponamu Palazzetti (Keith Bonar 55), Simon Cantwell, Robert Harvey (capt), Patrick Fogarty (Brendan Dillon 55), Michael Bolger, Adam Coffey (Simon Fogarty 55), Tadhg O’Connor-O’Hehir (Christian Takiachvili 49), Rory O’Connor-O’Hehir.