RUGBY: LEINSTER SCHOOLS JUNIOR CUP FIRST ROUND
Newbridge blitz St Mary’s to book last eight spot
NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE 21
ST MARY’S COLLEGE 0
By Daire Walsh
FOLLOWING their magnificent victory over St Mary’s College at Donnybrook Stadium last Friday afternoon, Newbridge College will contest the quarter-final stage of the Leinster Schools Junior Cup for a second consecutive season.
Tries from Donal Conroy, John Shanahan and Cormac King helped a determined Newbridge to blitz their south Dublin opponents, and they will now embark on their last-eight meeting against Wesley College with a great deal of confidence.
The Newbridge seniors had been defeated by Mary’s in the first round of their cup competition nine days earlier, and motivation was certainly a significant factor for both teams heading into this tie. In a similar vein to that encounter, the opening score played a crucial part in the way this game panned out, and it was garnered in somewhat unusual circumstances.
Mary’s inside centre Barra O’Loughlin stepped up to the kicking tee in the fourth-minute, but although his effort was well-struck, it rebounded off the post. After an initial scrap for possession, Donal Conroy emerged with the ball, and raced away to score an incredible five-pointer underneath the opposition posts.
This was a major tonic for a Newbridge side that were crowned Leinster Junior League champions only a matter of weeks ago, and Sam Cahill’s subsequent conversion helped them to create early daylight over the Rathmines outfit.
The Newbridge confidence levels were understandably boosted as a result, but they suffered a set-back on 13 minutes, when flanker Conor McGroary was sent to the sin-bin. Mary’s opted for touch from a penalty that followed this indiscretion, but even though winger Damir O’Grady made a powerful drive towards the whitewash, he was ultimately held up just shy of the line.
Impressive Newbridge defensive work turned over Mary’s on a number of occasions, but they were coming under increased pressure as the half wore on. Yet, despite also losing prop Christopher Hart to a yellow-card, a resilient Newbridge held out to bring a 7-0 cushion into the second period.
Mary’s were still well in contention when the action resumed, but a buoyant Newbridge soon left them with a mountain to climb. After breaking at pace deep inside their own half, fly-half Cahill released ‘Bridge skipper John Shanahan – who cut inside brilliantly from the right-flank to claim a second try for the 2012 champions.
Cahill increased the Newbridge advantage with another successful bonus kick, but despite having some leeway on the scoreboard, they were eager to push on during the third-quarter. Full-back James Gaire almost got on the end of an enterprising cross-field pass, but when the ball broke for Cormac King in the 44th-minute, the scrum-half dotted down for his side’s third converted effort of the day.
Moving into the final 15 minutes of the play, Newbridge had created an unassailable lead over Mary’s – whose failure to execute promising opportunities was coming back to the haunt them. Their openside, John Luc Carvill, attempted to break through a gap nine minutes from time, only to find a sea of Newbridge bodies blocking his path towards the line.
The sizeable gap enabled Newbridge to unload their replacements bench in the closing moments, and all 23 players in the matchday squad were given their chance to impress. Mary’s replacement Robert O’Connell looked set to register a consolation try on the stroke of 60 minutes, but the desire and work ethic of Newbridge ultimately forced him into touch.
This encapsulated the spirit of their performance on the day, and they will be hoping to carry this form into their upcoming game against Wesley.
NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE: James Gaire; David Marshall, Donal Conroy, John Shanahan, Daniel Silke Fetherston; Sam Cahill, Cormac King; Christopher Hart, Geoff McNelis, Peter Leavy; Mark Dennis, Patrick O’Flaherty; Conor McGroary, Donough Lawlor, Jack O’Connell.
Replacements: Conor Ennis for O’Connell (21), Jack Sargent for Ennis (29), Ennis for Hart (32), Harry Jago Byrne for McGroary, Marcus Kiely for Shanahan (both 47), Shane Fata for Marshall, Tiarnan McKnight for McNelis (both 55), Gavin Nolan Begley for Dennis, Josh Murphy for Gaire (both 57).
ST MARY’S COLLEGE: James Tynan; Damir O’Grady, Robert Nolan, Barra O’Loughlin, Gregory Monaghan; Jack Lundy, Seanan Devereux; Leon Wachuku, Adam Mulvihill, Darragh Nulty; Daniel Leane, Matthew Laughton; Adam McEvoy, John Luc Carvill, Adam Sloan.
Replacements: Colum Dillon for Nulty (36), Matthew Gallagher for Leane (43), Peter O’Leary for Devereux, Max Svejdar for Monaghan (both 55), Rory Gilbourne for Mulvihill, Paddy Conheady for Sloan (both 57), David O’Brien for McEvoy, Robert O’Connell for O’Grady (both 59).
Referee: Ian Thompson (Leinster Rugby Referees).