St Michael’s complete historic double
St Michael’s Newbridge 10 5
ST MICHAEL’S College were forced to withstand an inspired challenge from outsiders Newbridge College to complete the Leinster Schools’ SeniorJunior Cup double for the first time in their history yesterday.
This was an encounter to rival the senior f i nal f or sheer endeavour and drama. There was never more than a score between them at Donnybrook.
At the first ruck, Newbridge looked like cleaning the ball until the collective counter shove turned it over, reflecting the obvious difference in size of the respective packs.
St Michael’s giant number eight James Ryan took the ball off the back of a scrum, swatted aside openside Luke Menton before number eight Ciarán Callan brought him to ground and Menton returned to force a penalty for holding on.
And so it went. St Michael’s had all the physical tools. Newbridge were willing to match them and try to move them around.
Captain Jimmy O’brien and wing Gavin Burke ran into a stonewall defence which swarmed the carriers. But, the whole Newbridge backrow pounced on Ryan to force a penalty for holding on in the 10th minute. Burke pulled the shot at goal left of the posts.
Just when St Michael’s looked to have fended off the early blitz, by successfully enforcing the choke tackle five times, Burke latched into a fallen ball deep inside his 22 to race away to the posts for a superb try.
energy, Burke simply misconnected with the conversion to leave it 5-0 in the 18th minute.
At least, they had a lead to protect. Newbridge flanker Oisín Kelly took scrumhalf Dave Duggan by the ankles, O’brien was simply a menace in defence, flying into everything.
Newbridge had played in spurts to make the final. This was a different animal entirely. The aggression and commitment was first rate. They just had to hold firm to the break.
Still, the favourites came. O’brien got in under Ryan over the line. But, St Michael’s prop Rory Mulvihill scrambled the last metre for a try, converted by flanker Barry Fitzpatrick for a 7-5 lead in the 27th minute.
The restart did not travel the requisite 10-metres. Had the dam burst? Not by a long shot.
lock Donal Delahunt’s first taste of the action was to stop wing Jack Kelly. O’brien scragged Mulvihill. The break would provide sanctuary for the underdogs.
It was all to play for. Centre Rob Buckley was working overtime in defence, first marshalling wing Kelly down the touchline and then clamping onto centre Max Deegan.
The weight of pressure was getting heavier. A creeping midfield was caught offside and Fitzpatrick struck a penalty from 15 metres in the 43rd minute.
The Newbridge backrow bloodhounds sniffed out an overthrown lineout for the superb Oisín Kelly and Callan to take them out of the danger zone. Buckley added value with his boot. It was Buckley again who took contact and got the ball away to wing James Healy, who kicked ahead.
The ensuing fight for the ball ended with a double knock-on. Callan got off the back of the scrum. Buckley was scythed down.
There was consolation in a penalty under the posts.
Newbridge opted for the scrum and came up one forward pass short of their target in the last quarter.
O’brien shot between two defenders, but Ryan was at hand to turn him over as St Michael’s made it by the skin of their teeth to their third Junior Cup triumph. ST MICHAEL’S: M O’shea; J Kelly, O O’meara, M Deegan, A Brennan; R Cosgrave, D Duggan; R Mulvihill, G Barrett, R Kelleher, E Ó Nuailláin, J Browne, B Fitzpatrick, G Croke, J Ryan (capt). Replacements: K Browne for O’shea (35 mins). NEWBRIDGE: R Cleary; G Burke, J Howlett, R Buckley, J Healy; J O’brien (capt), M Delaney; M Doyle, T O’neill, O Larkin, P Condon, P Morrin, O Kelly, L Menton, C Callan. Replacements: D Delahunt for Condon (29 mins, temp; 44 mins). Referee: A Lynch (Leinster Branch).
The young men of St Michael’s College celebrate winning the Leinster Schools’ Junior Cup after a hard-fought victory over Newbridge College at Donnybrook yesterday.