Leinster Schools Senior League Decider
D’Arcy stars as ‘Bridge lift senior college title
NEWBRIDGE COL 43
CISTERCIAN COL 10
By DAIRE WALSH
A 19-point haul by left-wing Joe D’Arcy proved to be the highlight of the show in Donnybrook Stadium last Wednesday evening, as Newbridge College secured the Leinster Schools Senior League title with an emphatic victory over Cistercian College Roscrea.
The south Kildare boys have been drawn against Roscrea in the first round of the Leinster Senior Challenge Cup next month, and although the principle competition in Leinster Schools Rugby takes on a different dimension to the early season league fixtures, Newbridge will embark on 2014 with much confidence following their magnificent display.
Newbridge crossed the whitewash with just two minutes gone. A strong push towards the line by the Newbridge pack kick-started the move for this opening score, with flanker Conor Nugent eventually reaching over to the left of the posts.
The aforementioned D’Arcy superbly secured his conversion on the touchline, giving his side a dream start.
Tim Foley opened Roscrea’s account with a successful place-kick off his left-foot from just outside the 22-metre-line, and the dynamic out-half followed it up almost immediately with a superb individual try. His subsequent bonus kick was also accurate, which meant that in the space of just three minutes, Roscrea had turned the contest on its head.
Newbridge eventually regained their composure and tremendous approach play by centre Jake Howlett paved the way for scrum-half Mark Sutton to record Newbridge’s second converted try after 23 minutes.
The Black and White were displaying a much-needed ruthlessness in attack, and when they managed to gain a stranglehold on the action, their pace and power proved to be too much for Roscrea to handle.
Their Tipperary-based rivals continued to pose problems for Newbridge towards the end of the half, and in Foley and full-back Tim Carroll they had two excellent performers, but College maintained their discipline during a tricky spell, and brought a 17-10 lead into the second period courtesy of a routine stoppage time penalty by the reliable D’Arcy.
After the explosive beginning to the first half, events upon the resumption were much more sombre, as both teams realised how important the next score in the tie could prove to be. It was a relief, therefore, for the passionate Newbridge faithful that the next contribution came from their side, when bustling No 8 Tom Brady dotted down in the right-corner for a breakaway five-pointer.
D’Arcy’s maintained his 100% accuracy from the conversion, and though he finally came up short from an awkward angle 54 minutes in, it was soften greatly by the fact that full-back Niall Delahunt had grounded at the end of a devastating team move for Newbridge’s fourth try of a bitterly cold night.
This particular sequence effectively put the game beyond the reach of Roscrea, who had battled manfully, but were unable to sustain the threat that they had showcased before the interval.
Newbridge coaching staff opting to utilise their reserves in the final-quarter, they eagerly continued to search for further scores before the end of the showpiece, and the influential Brady grabbed a second try with five minutes remaining.
As expected, D’Arcy was able to add another brace of points to his overall tally, and despite being forced on the back-foot by Roscrea for the first meaningful time since the restart, Newbridge ultimately had the final say on a night to remember for all those connected with the school.
It was fitting that D’Arcy was the man to complete the rout, and he broke free on the right-flank, before touching down underneath the posts for an eye-catching seven-point salvo.
This ensured that Newbridge had a total of 33 points to spare over Roscrea as referee Arthur Lynch sounded the full-time whistle, and though the winning margin didn’t necessarily do justice to the performance of Cistercian, they could have no complaints about coming off second best in the end.
It still remains to be seen if this game will have any bearing on their upcoming Senior Cup clash, but if Newbridge can garner strong displays from Howlett, D’Arcy, Sutton, Brady, Jonathan Phelan and Tom Treacy when they renew acquaintances in the near future, then they stand every chance of registering their third triumph of the campaign against Cistercian College Roscrea.
NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE: Mark Delahunt; Mark Delaney, Jake Howlett, Andrew Shanahan, Joe D’Arcy; Jimmy O’Brien, Mark Sutton; Conor Doyle, Connor Johnson, Jonathan Phelan; Conor Doyle, Tom Treacy; Conor Nugent, Matt O’Connor, Tom Brady.
Replacements: Tom Dunne, Sean Treacy, Richard Drumgoole-Maguire, Brian Larkin, Rob Buckley, Barry Finab, Chris Healy, Jack Lawlor.
CISTERCIAN COLLEGE ROSCREA: Tim Carroll; Calum Quinn, Alan Tynan, Fionn Higgins, Joe Murphy; Tim Foley, Dan Lavelle; Alvaro Ferragut, Shane Culleton, Liam Walsh; Peter Ennis, Rory Murphy; Matty Keans, Marc Kelly, Simon Meagher.
Replacements: Stephen Leo, Paddy McKeon, Kyle Cahir, Cian O’Leary, Dwayne Corcoran, Gavin Murphy, Sean Kilgallon, David Mackay.
Referee: Arthur Lynch (Leinster Rugby Referees).