Belvedere are within touching distance of the claiming the first Leinster Schools Senior Cup three in-a-row since 1964 after engineering possibly the greatest comeback in the history of the competition to deny St Michael’s in today’s semi-final at Donnybrook Stadium.
Trailing 19-3 against the competition favourites with ten minutes to go, Phil Werahiko’s players needed every morsel of cup experience to score the final 17 points in a pulsating finale that culminated in David Lacey converting a Mateusz Galinski try from the back of a maul with the last kick of the game.
It was a scarcely believable conclusion after a brace from inside centre Jay Barron and a snipe from scrum-half Rob Gilsenan had put Michael’s on course for a mouthwatering match-up with arch rivals Blackrock in the March 18 decider.
Instead, Belvedere will attempt to win a hat-trick of senior crowns in a rematch of last year’s final which, much like today’s encounter, saw the northside Dublin school dig out a victory despite spending plenty of time on the back foot.
After missing a host of opportunities early in the second half to pare back Michael’s’ lead, Lacey touched down after a break from Matthew Grogan, with the try-scorer then kicking a penalty to bring Belvedere within a converted try following another thrilling passage of play with six minutes to go.
It looked like Michael’s would hold out after Lacey missed touch from a penalty with three minutes left, but the back-to-back champions were given one last opportunity, and the fullback boomed an impressive kick to within striking distance of the line as the clock ticked into the final minute.
Belvedere set a sturdy maul that Michael’s were unable to halt, and Galinski was able to drive over in what was one of the most dramatic finishes in the history of the Leinster Schools Senior Cup.