On Thursday and Friday, there were Schools Senior Cup final wins for Colaiste Iognaid (Connacht), Blackrock College (Leinster), St. Munchin's College (Munster) and Methodist College (Ulster).
POWERADE LEINSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUP FINAL: Friday, March 17
BLACKROCK 14 ST. MICHAEL'S 12, Lansdowne Road
Scorers: Blackrock: Tries: Vasya Artemiev, Shane Cahill; Cons: Aidan Wynne 2
Michael's: Pens: Noel Reid 3; Drop: Andrew Cummiskey
Blackrock College won the Leinster Schools Senior Cup for the 65th time as tries from Russian-born winger Vasya Artemiev and loosehead prop Shane Cahill helped them see off the challenge of St. Michael's at headquarters.
'Rock avenged last year's defeat to Belvedere but were left living on their nerves at the finish as Michael's winger Noel Reid had a late and lenghty penalty chance to win it. But his effort from 50 metres out tailed away to the right and wide.
'Rock got the perfect start when, with the aid of a sizeable breeze, they struck for a try after only 6 minutes. Lock Brian Cawley grabbed lineout ball, Irish international Artemiev took possession, looping around talismanic full-back Luke Fitzgerald in midfield and spinning out of a tackle to score in the left corner. Centre Aidan Wynne continued his superb kicking form from earlier in the competition to land the difficult conversion.
Captain and number eight Tyrone McKillen and centre Conor Cleary rose to the task for Michael's with some notable carries, but by the 17th-minute, 'Rock were two converted scores in front. Cawley was again involved in the donkey work and Cahill touched down close to the posts for Wynne to add the extras.
In chilly conditions in the capital, Michael's hit back with an excellent drop goal from out-half Andrew Cummiskey from all of 40 metres. 'Rock's indiscretions were being punished by referee Eanna O'Dowd and Michael's wide man Reid. He landed penalties on 45, 57 and 62 minutes to leave his side just two behind at 14-12. Unfortunately for Michael's, who were seeking their school's first Senior Cup title, there was little in the way of further chances as the 'Rock defence shut up shop.
Reid did have one last go at the posts from far out, but 'Rock were not to be denied. Captain and number eight Paul Ryan lifted Blackrock's second Senior Cup in three seasons.
BLACKROCK: L Fitzgerald; N Morris, J Lee, A Wynne, V Artemiev; D Fitzpatrick, D Moore; S Cahill, D O'Brien, W Kavanagh, D Dowling, B Cawley, D O'Connor, A Cullen, P Ryan (capt).
Replacements used: JS Byrne for Artemiev (57 mins), J Ronan for Fitzpatrick (62), R Carroll for Cahill (67).
MICHAEL'S: M Twomey; N Reid, C Cleary, N Reynolds, P Brophy; A Cummiskey, R Shanley; I Leonard, P Hynes, A Pollard, A Byrne, K McKenna, P Mallon, R Reilly, T McKillen (capt).
Replacements used: S Mahon for McKenna (58 mins).
Referee: Eanna O'Dowd (Leinster)
STATOIL CONNACHT SCHOOLS SENIOR CUP FINAL: Thursday, March 16
COLAISTE IOGNAID 13 SLIGO GRAMMAR 10, The Sportsground
Scorers: Colaiste Iognaid: Try: Robert Hurley; Con: Ross Shaughnessy; Pens: Shaughnessy 2
Sligo: Try: Philip Hunt; Con: Simon Gillespie; Drop: Gillespie
Sligo Grammar's luck was all out at the Sportsground on Thursday as they lost their third Senior Cup final on the trot - and second in a row to Colaiste Iognaid (the Jes). It was a seventh title in all for the Galway school - a triumph built on the foundations of a lively first half display.
The Jes, opting to play with the wind early on, went in at the break with a 10-0 lead. Out-half Ross Shaughnessy flighted over a neat penalty while captain Robert Hurley showed a great turn of pace from centre to hurtle around a couple of tackles and score a valuable try after 25 minutes, which Shaughnessy converted from close in.
Just three minutes into the second half, Shaughnessy added his second penalty for a 13-0 buffer. Sligo were stung into action. A minute later, winger Philip Hunt ended a 25-metre dart with a try, which out-half Simon Gillespie converted from the right flank.
Gillespie added a drop goal on 47 minutes to close the gap even further, but try as they might, Sligo could not penetrate a solid Jes defence for the remainder.
In the Junior Cup decider, played beforehand, Garbally got the better of Colaiste Iognaid, winning the Ballinasloe school's 41st Junior title thanks to a 20-12 success.
COLAISTE IOGNAID: E Farragher; C Connolly, C Moyler, R Hurley (capt), P Cuddy; R Shaughnessy, H Griffin; A Collins, M Nolan, C Ryan, J Browne, E Keane, G Hartigan, D Murphy, H O'Donnellan.
SLIGO GRAMMAR: C O'Grady; D Tansey, P Hunt, R Butler, D Torsney; S Gillespie, S Sheridan; J East, R O'Boyle, P Allen, R Forrester, A Parsons, P Ryder, J Draper (capt), R Wasson.
Referee: Roy Gibson (Connacht)
...Ireland Under-19 international Keith Earls who grabbed the crucial try for Munchin's in their Munster Senior Cup final win...
AVONMORE MILK MUNSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUP FINAL: Friday, March 17
ST. MUNCHIN'S COLLEGE 7 PBC CORK 3, Thomond Park
Scorers: Munchin's: Try: Keith Earls; Con: Ger Slattery
PBC: Pen: Jeff Power
A second half breakaway try by Ireland Schools and Under-19 international Keith Earls steered Munchin's to their third Munster Senior Cup victory in five years and their fifth title in all.
The Corbally, Co. Limerick school hardly had a great deal of control in their win, but did just enough to warrant the success at Thomond Park. PBC, who bossed possession, could count themselves unfortunate - scrum half Shane Costigan had what looked like a legitimate try ruled out on 58 minutes as referee Dermot Moloney was unsighted for the grounding.
A lively start from the Cork side saw Jeff Power called into kicking action early on but his 10th-minute penalty was pulled wide. Hands in the ruck after a break from PBC captain and centre Brian Dennehy allowed full-back Power a second hot at the posts on 28 minutes and he duly obliged for 3-0.
PBC's lead lasted until half time, but nine minutes into the second half, Munchin's out-half Richard Mullane spotted a gap in his own 22 and begun the move which led to Earls' try. Eamonn Broderick carried it on further as galloped through on a 30-metre run, and Earls came up on his centre partner's shoulder to collect the pass and skate over for a breath-taking try.
Munchin's hooker and skipper Ger Slattery, another international, converted well for 7-3.
Despite the best efforts of PBC centre Tim Kenneally, who was difficult to stop with ball in hand throughout, the Mardyke men got little chance out of the Munchin's defence in the closing stages. Costigan felt he got over coming up to the hour mark, and two subsequent PBC drives were also held up over the Limerick side's line. Some dogged defending kept them out.
ST. MUNCHIN'S: J O'Dwyer; J Organ, K Earls, E Broderick, G O'Hanlon; R Mullane, P Rowley; D Hogan, G Slattery (capt), T Burke, C McNamara, J Griffin, L Og Murphy, J O'Neill, S Hassett.
PBC CORK: J Power; B Derham, B Dennehy (capt), T Kenneally, K Buckley; S Deasy, S Costigan; N McCarthy, A O'Driscoll, M Kearney, M Kenefick, R McCarthy, N Barry, R Love, R Allen.
Referee: Dermot Moloney (Munster)
NORTHERN BANK ULSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUP FINAL: Friday, March 17
CAMPBELL COLLEGE 5 METHODIST COLLEGE 11, Ravenhill
Scorers: Campbell: Try: Rory Boyd
Methodist: Try: David Johnston; Pens: Owen McMurray 2
It was fitting that a last-gasp move from one of the captains proved to be the decisive blow in the 130th Ulster Schools Senior Cup final. And it fell to Methodist College skipper and number eight David Johnston to produce that piece of magic.
Four minutes into injury-time, Johnston burst clear on a 40-metre solo run which ended a try - the score that confirmed Methody's 30th Senior Cup success. Johnston showed great footballing skills to chip over the top of Campbell's replacement full-back Bruce Duff, collect the loose ball and score.
Full-back Owen McMurray got the south Belfast school up and running with an eighth-minute penalty. Two minutes later, Campbell hit back with the game's opening try. Centre Simon Rea raced clear, cutting through the Methody midfield. He was hauled down, but Campbell out-half Rory Boyd managed to charge down Chris Quinn's attempted clearance kick to thunder through and score. Captain and full-back Peter Glass missed the conversion.
With six players on the field from last year's final, Methody were never going to panic and they duly retook the lead on 24 minutes courtesy of McMurray's second penalty. The score remained at 6-5 for half time and right up until the finish.
Campbell, who lost Glass late in the first half to a hamstring injury, took a hold on territory in the final quarter, but could not make the breakthrough for a second try, and Methody's Johnston had the final say.
CAMPBELL COLLEGE: P Glass (capt); J Castles, S Rea, J Smith, J Yeung; R Boyd, A Dougherty; N McLaughlin, K Yellop, P Eadie, D Bradford, G Rankin, B McDonnell, J Ferguson, R McCullagh.
Replacements used: M McLean for Glass (38 mins), B Duff for McLean (65), C Busby for McLaughlin (77).
METHODIST COLLEGE: O McMurray; C Quinn, C O'Kane, J Crossey, P McFadden; R Blake-Knox, S Bell; A Sproule, P MacMahon, A Macklin, D Annett, A Jackson, J Kernaghan, M Robinson, D Johnston (capt).
Referee: Alistair McKay (Ulster)