POST-MATCH REACTION: LEINSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL – JOHNE MURPHY
By Daire Walsh
It is a mark of the ambition shown by Newbridge College in this year’s Leinster Schools Senior Cup that head coach Johne Murphy already had his eye on future events within minutes of their monumental semi-final victory against St Michael’s College last Tuesday.
Following their magnificent triumph at the expense of the 2019 champions in Donnybrook, Newbridge now have an all-Kildare showpiece with Clongowes Wood College to look forward to at the RDS on this day week (March 17) and they are not prepared to let this golden opportunity go to waste.
“It’s great for the school. I think the school is on a crest of a wave in terms of last week’s result for the juniors and this today. It’s about embracing it now and enjoying it,” Murphy said, making reference to Newbridge’s Junior Cup success over the same school six days earlier.
“You have to enjoy these moments as well. The lads inside, they’ve made life memories there today in terms of no one will ever be able to take that away from them. What they did there this afternoon. My job is to try and ground them in the next 48 hours and start the process of what brings us to Paddy’s Day.”
Nevertheless, Murphy’s own connection to the college – dating back a number of generations – meant this was a result filled with raw emotion for the former Leicester, Munster and Naas stalwart.
“It’s brilliant, it really is. As a past pupil, it means a hell of a lot more. My nephews were here today, my son was at one of the previous games. The family will be coming on Paddy’s Day. My granddad was in Newbridge College, all my uncles. My brothers and sisters. It means a huge amount.”
The prospect of a penultimate round upset seemed unlikely during the early moments of the contest as Newbridge found themselves staring into a 14-0 deficit. However, they knuckled down in the second period, outscoring their opponents 22-8 to eventually secure the spoils with three points to spare (25-22).
While he acknowledged it wasn’t ideal to give the south Dubliners a head start of this nature, Murphy explained how it ultimately worked in their favour.
“When you look at that for what it is, it’s never good to go 14-0 down. But in the context of the game, it probably suits us. Because we slowly get back into it and when we go ahead late on, there’s no time. There’s very little time for them to get back ahead. Whereas if we go 14-0, they still have 60 minutes to catch us.
“It fell probably to us and the lads showed fantastic resilience and heart. Daryl Gibson told me in one of my first two weeks over in Leicester, ‘you can’t buy ticker’ and our lads have it in abundance.”
Considering they suffered comprehensive quarter-final reversals to Belvedere College in the past two seasons, Newbridge have taken a giant leap forward in Murphy’s first season at the helm. Yet, the Rathangan native feels they can reach another level before their forthcoming tussle against Clongowes.
“We’ve learnt a lot throughout the season and we’re still learning. There’s a lot of improvement to come ahead of Paddy’s Day and it just comes down to grit. To be able to grind your teeth, bite down your gum shield and get on with those mishaps that have happened along the way. I think it’s very, very important from a personal development standout, holistically for the lads, that they’re capable of doing that,” Murphy added.