Joe Darcy was the hero at the NUI Maynooth campus last Monday, as his brace of tries ensured that Newbridge College progressed to the second round of the Powerade Leinster Schools Senior Cup following a hard-fought opening phase triumph over a dogged and determined King’s Hospital outfit, writes Daire Walsh.
LEINSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUP FIRST ROUND
Newbridge College: 12
Kings Hospital: 5
Having lost out in agonising circumstances to Presentation College Bray at the same stage last season (when a stoppage time penalty by Diarmuid Masterson gave the Wicklow men a dramatic 12-10 victory), Newbridge College will be eager to make an impression in this year’s competition, and with 11 player’s from last year’s squad still involved (seven of whom featured in the loss to Pres Bray), the south Kildare boys were not going to be found wanting when it came to motivation.
Playing relatively close to home was certainly of benefit to Newbridge (from a logistical sense at the very least), but owing to the swirling conditions on the day, it was going to be extremely difficult for either team to play free-flowing rugby.
Full-back Chris Healy did have an early opportunity to open Newbridge’s account, but his place kick was narrowly wide of the mark on this occasion. The two-time champions didn’t have long to wait for their first score of the contest, as strong play by powerful second row Tom Treacy provided the platform for half-back pair Robert Mullen and Mark Sutton to make headway in the King’s Hospital half, with the ball eventually making its way towards Darcy, who touched down in the left corner.
This was exactly the kind of start that Aaron Dundon (who plys his trade in the Clontarf front row at the top level of the Ulster Bank League) and his coaching staff would have been hoping for heading into the tie, and a terrific touchline conversion by Healy gave them a seven-point advantage with just 11 minutes of play gone.
This scoring burst was always going to be vital in a game where scoring was at a premium, and despite plenty of endeavour from both sides for the remainder of the opening period, Darcy’s converted try was the difference between the teams at the end of the initial 35 minutes of play.
This set the game up enterprisingly upon the resumption, as the Palmerstown school were still very much in contention with the margin separating the sides still reasonably slender. The decisive score of the day arrived just a minute after the re-start, however, when Darcy embarked on a mesmerising solo run from his own 40 metre line, before breaking through the heart of the King’s Hospital defence to cross the whitewash for his second five-pointer.
Healy was off target with the conversion that followed this time, but with their cushion now extended to 12 points, the onus was now on King’s Hospital to force their way back into the reckoning.
To their eternal credit, the Dubliners displayed plenty of grit to cut into Newbridge’s lead thanks to well-worked try from Austrian lock Tassilo Herberstein on the right-wing, which served as a sharp indicator for ‘Bridge that their passage to the next stage was not yet secured.
With a gale-force wind at their backs in the closing stages, there was a live possibility that King’s Hospital could yet pull this game out of the fire, and with Herberstein and Ireland Under-19 international Ian Fitzpatrick leading the charge, there were some nervy moments for their opponents.
Newbridge were able to keep King’s Hospital at bay whenever they did threaten their line, though, and Darcy’s double was enough to get them over the line in the end.
This year’s Senior Cup is being operated on an open draw basis, which means that Newbridge will have to focus on each game as it comes and not worry about what might await them in future rounds. This first round success was certainly an excellent start, however, and with Healy, Darcy and Jake Howlett putting in strong performances in defence, alongside the strong leadership of Jonathan Phelan, Tom Treacy and Brian Hayden in the pack, they move forward into the last-eight with plenty of confidence.
Chris Healy; Niall Delahunt, Jake Howlett, Jack O’Neill, Joe Darcy; Mark Sutton, Robert Mullen; Jonathan Phelan, Conor Doyle, Hugh O’Donnell, Cormac Nugent, Tom Treacy, Matthew O’Connor, Oisin McKnight, Brian Hayden. Replacements: Jack Coghlan-Murray for Mullen (half-time), Edward Wynne for Phelan (38), Thomas Brady for Treacy (53), Jack Briody for Doyle (61), Richard Dromgoole-Maguire for O’Connor (64), Andrew Shanahan for O’Neill (67), Patrick Kyne for Darcy (67).
Leo Morgan; Kevin McMillan, Ian Fitzpatrick, Matthew Bursey, Rolus Olusa; Eamonn Walsh, Alex Moore; Ntinga Mpiko, Graham Reynolds, Thomas O’Sullivan, David Duffy, Tassilo Herberstein, Eoin Ryan, Connor Spillane, Connor Kenny. Replacements: Will Potterton for Kenny (56), Daniel Ables for O’Sullivan (65), Ronan Sharkey for McMillan (65).
John Carvill (Leinster Branch).