Garbally College are champions of Connacht once again

Garbally College claimed its first Top Oil Connacht Schools Senior Cup since 2015 after outclassing defending champions Colaiste Iognaid (The Jes ) by 45-26 at the Sportsground on Tuesday afternoon.

Stephen Mannion, son of former international Noel, was the hero as he scored a brace of tries and maintained a 100 per cent record off the tee to help his school to its 46th title overall.

The Jes was looking to make it a hat-trick of senior cup wins after success in 2016 and 2017, however, seven tries for Garbally ensured the trophy would be going to Ballinasloe.

Garbally College exploded out of the blocks with two tries in the first eight minutes.

The first score came courtesy of great build up play from winger Stephen Mannion, who chipped and chased and showed great skill to keep the ball in play to allow captain Oisin McCormack to dive on the ball and draw first blood.

The lead was extended moments later when scrum-half Colm Reilly found a gap in the midfield, scampered away from would be Jes tacklers, and dotted down underneath the sticks.

Cian Tracey added the extras and Garbally had built a 12 point advantage with only eight minutes on the clock.

The Jes needed inspiration and a score and it was duly provided by out-half Cathal Forde who crossed the whitewash and converted from the ground to bring the scoreline back to 12-7.

However, the concession of the score only seemed to focus Garbally minds and they hit back with scores from Shane Jennings and Joseph Devine to stretch the difference to 24-7 after 23 minutes.

The Jes who were showing plenty of ambition with ball in hand managed to cut the deficit when Forde scored his second try of the match and converted to get the city side back into game on the half hour mark.

They were beginning to look more confident and threatening but they received a sucker punch just before the halftime whistle when they conceded a fifth try; Mannion the man to touch down and convert to leave the score 31-14 in favour of the Ballinasloe school.

The Jes knew they needed to start the second 40 with a strong showing and a after period of concerted pressure, penalties, scrums, prop Gary Keane crashed over with the help of Niall Hanahoe on his shoulder.

But Garbally, just like they had done throughout the first half, responded to the concession of the try by scoring one of their own; Mannion going for in the score after the pack had provided safe ball off the base of the scrum.

Cian Tracey slotted the conversion between the posts to make it 38-21.

The Jes refused to lie down and secured a fourth try when Julius Byrne went over on 50 minutes, but Garbally would have the last say when Cathal Dolan powered over after a steal from a lineout and record a famous victory.

In the other finals Marist College got the better of Garbally College 20-17 in the Top Oil Schools Junior Cup final; Presentation Headford defeated Gortnor Abbey 43-32 in the Senior Development Cup; Presentation College, Athenry, overcame St Jarlath's College, Tuam, 30-5 in the Junior Development Cup final; Presentation College, Athenry, beat Jesus and Mary Secondary School Enniscrone 31-22, in the Senior Emerging Schools Cup final; and Abbey Community College pipped St Joseph's, Foxford, 8-5 in the Junior Emerging Schools Cup final.

GARBALLY: S Jennings, S Mannion, S O’Carroll, O’Brien, S Horkan, C Tracey, C Reilly; J Curley, O Dooley, S Egan, M Comerford, S Grenham, Patrick Grehan, O McCormack, J Devine. Replacements: C Dolan (for Dooley 46 ), N Horan (for Horkan 55 ), Galvin (for Comerford 71 ), B Codyre (for Tracey 75 ), K O’Connor (for Grehan 75 ), J Coughlan (for Jennings 76 ).

COLAISTE IOGNAID: A Cunningham, C Briscoe, J Byrne, J Power, J Grealish, C Forde, E Kenny, P Smyth, T de Paor, G Keane, A Mannion, R O’Connor, J Gallagher, D Leneghan, N Hanahoe. Replacements: T Gillanders (for de Paor 53 ), R O’Flynn (for Briscoe 64 ), J Madden (for Smyth 64 ), L Solan (for Byrne 67 ), R Solan (for Mannion 69 ).

REF: Jason Craughwell.


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