St Michael’s com­plete his­toric dou­ble

St Michael’s New­bridge 10 5

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Sports News -

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.

Per­haps drained

of

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.

New­bridge re­place­ment

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).

Pho­to­graph: Dan Sheri­dan/inpho

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.

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