RUGBY – LEINSTER SCHOOLS JUNIOR CUP SEMI-FINAL
Trophy’s dramatic winning try maintains Newbridge’s winning run
By Daire Walsh
LAST TUESDAY, before the Coronavirus wiped out the sporting calendar, Newbridge College maintained their penchant for late drama at Donnybrook last Tuesday to edge out Terenure College in a gripping Leinster Schools Junior Cup semi-final encounter.
Trailing by a single point in the closing moments of their last-eight meeting with 2019 champions St Michael’s College, ‘Bridge ultimately squeezed home courtesy of a final-minute penalty by replacement Michael Collins. With the clock in the red at the end of this penultimate round clash, Dave Brew’s charges looked set to be facing into a replay against the south Dubliners.
Jack Taylor and full-back Tadhg Brophy had others ideas, however, as the dynamic duo combined for the latter to claim a game-clinching try. As a consequence, Newbridge will now face 51-time champions Blackrock College in a showpiece affair at the same venue on March 22.
The Common school are currently riding the crest of a wave with Johne Murphy’s senior outfit pitting their wits against Kildare rivals Clongowes Wood College in a cup decider at the RDS later today. Given they have already secured the scalps of two heavyweight opponents, ‘Bridge will now fancy their chances of going all the way in 2020.
After winger Adam Larkin-Smithers made serious ground off a powerful run in the early exchanges, Newbridge proceeded to transfer the ball into a more central area. It was then left for Taylor to release Harry Farrell through a gap and the outside centre crashed over the whitewash for a fourth-minute try.
Andrew Carroll was on hand to supply the extras and with a seven point cushion at their disposal, ‘Bridge had the perfect platform on which to build. Yet, despite enduring a nightmare start to the contest, an impressive Terenure side gradually grew in stature.
Newbridge dug deep in defensive for large spells with skipper Ruairi Byrne and Ronan McGroary leading the way from the back-row. The Metropolitans were pushing hard for a try and though they were held up in the 18th-minute, the ensuing five-metre scrum acted as the catalyst for their equalising effort.
Lock Eamon Geraghty touched down in clinical style off this set-piece move and Harvey O’Leary’s routine conversion ensured parity had been restored. ‘Nure had served full notice of their potential and largely consigned Newbridge to their own half throughout the second-quarter.
The robust approach of Yousif Ajina offered the Metropolitans front-foot momentum and the bustling centre dotted down under a slew of bodies on 29 minutes. Though his midfield partner – O’Leary – was off-target with his latest bonus strike, ‘Nure had established a 12-7 buffer in time for the interval.
There was no need for Newbridge to panic just yet as they had showcased incredible resilience in their previous wins over St Gerard’s, Bray and Michael’s. Indeed, courtesy of a remarkable scoring blitz after the restart, they completely turned the tables on their big city counterparts.
Farrell picked up possession in an advanced area and after chasing down his own kick up the left-wing, evaded ‘Nure’s defensive cover for his fifth try in just three games. Carroll’s two-point salvo squeezed Newbridge back into the ascendancy and the gap was subsequently increased in the 38th-minute.
The diminutive Brophy embarked on a lung-bursting run from deep and got through for his second unconverted try of the competition. Newbridge’s ruthless streak was on full display as they were capitalising on practically every foray into enemy territory.
However, ‘Nure were able to secure the ball for long stretches and started to ramp up the attacking pressure inside the closing-quarter. Whilst Newbridge thwarted them on a number of occasions, Byrne’s sin-binning on 49 minutes left them temporarily hamstrung.
In his absence, ‘Nure exploited the additional space on offer with Ajina once again supplying the finishing touches to a prolonged move. O’Leary also converted to leave the final outcome up in the air.
Both teams enjoyed their share of possession in the dying embers of the play and it seemed inevitable that they would end up being inseparable. Yet the excellent Taylor summoned enough energy for one last break into the ‘Nure danger zone and he unleashed a telling pass out towards Brophy – who sent the Newbridge faithful into raptures.
NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE: Tadhg Brophy; Andrew Carroll, Harry Farrell, John Collins, Adam Larkin-Smithers; Paddy Taylor, Michael Collins; Daniel Walsh, John Sheedy, Shane Davitt; Ruairi Munnelly, Shane Treacy; Stephen Menton, Ronan McGroary, Ruairi Byrne.
Replacements: P Forde for Munnelly (44), Hugh Hamilton for Collins (56).
TERENURE COLLEGE: Jim Kennedy; Daniel Martin, Yousif Ajina, Harvey O’Leary, Eoghan Walsh; Harry Ennis, Paul Swords; Olan Storey, Mark Egan, Joshua Delaney; Eamon Geraghty, Matthew Somerville; Charlie Redmond-Murray, Carlos Mantero-Bolard, Ben Nolan.
Replacements: Oisin Flanagan for Geraghty (35), Conor O’Brien for Delaney, Rory King for Ennis (both 39), Michael Murphy for Egan (43).