Following on from the heartbreak of losing out in last year’s decider, Newbridge College were crowned Vinnie Murray Cup Champions for the very first time at the expense of St Andrew’s College after a committed and clinical performance in Templeville Road last Wednesday afternoon, writes Daire Walsh.
Newbridge College: 20
St. Andrew’s College: 13
They did have to endure some nervy moments towards the end of the contest as the Booterstown school searched for the scores that might bring this tie to a replay, but Newbridge held firm to record a hard-earned victory.
Andrew’s had started the game on the front foot, and were pushing hard towards the Newbridge line, though the south Kildare boys were extremely well organised defensively and were affording very little space to the Andrew’s pack and back division.
The build-up play from Andrew’s was rather efficient, but they were finding it hard to apply the finishing touches to some of their more promising moves.
Having emerged unscathed from this early period of territorial dominance by Andrew’s, Newbridge soon started to break into their opponent’s half of the pitch and, following an incisive move involving Dan O’Loughlin, Charlie Ryan and Graham Burns on 18 minutes, winger Phil O’Neill got through in the right-corner for the opening score of the game.
Scrum-half Robbie Mullen came up short with the subsequent conversion, meaning that Newbridge’s advantage was five rather than seven. Having played rather well up to this point, Andrew’s would have been disappointed to have fallen behind at the mid-way point in the half, but they soon addressed this situation with a try of their own from second-row Mark Robinson following a long maul towards the Newbridge posts.
Luke De Renzy was also off target with his conversion, however, and he was left to rue this missed opportunity on 28 minutes, when Mullen converted a routine penalty from inside the 22 metre line.
This score put a spring in the Newbridge step, and they went close to adding to their advantage before the interval, though they ultimately had to be content with an 8-5 lead heading into the second period.
Upon the resumption, Newbridge continued to press towards the Andrew’s line, and were richly rewarded five minutes into the half when centre Charlie Ryan drove over to the left of the posts via some excellent approach play by Byrne, Mark Sutton and captain Brian Hayden.
Out-half Sutton stepped up for a routine conversion, as Newbridge opened up a ten-point cushion over their Metropolitan rivals.
It took Andrew’s a while to re-adjust themselves after the concession of this score, but they did go remarkably close to registering their second try with 48 minutes gone, only to be pegged back by a stern Newbridge defence at the final moment.
Newbridge were proving to be more ruthless when chances came their way, though, and they produced their third try of the afternoon through prop Jonathan Phelan at the end of a sweeping move with 18 minutes remaining.
This put further daylight between the sides, and when De Renzy missed a relatively simple penalty three minutes later, it seemed like it really was going to be Newbridge’s day in the sun. Andrew’s did show great spirit in the final quarter, though, as a 58th minute try from Jack Rowe brought the Newbridge margin down to ten.
Suddenly sensing that the game wasn’t completely lost, Andrew’s forced Newbridge on the back-foot, and eventually cut into the lead once more thanks to a superbly struck penalty by De Renzy at the very end of normal time.
Seven minutes of stoppage time would follow, during which time Andrew’s enjoyed the majority of the possession, but Newbridge held firm to record an historic triumph on a day when they had outstanding performers in the form of Messrs. Phelan, Hayden, Ryan and Sutton.
Dan O’Loughlin; Chris Deane, Charlie Ryan, Graham Burns, Phil O’Neill; Mark Sutton, Robbie Mullen; Jonathan Phelan, Conor Murphy, Brian O’Donnell, Stuart O’Rourke, Billy Scully, Mark Kavanagh, Oisin McKnight, Brian Hayden. Replacements: Colin Grant for O’Donnell (41), Jack Coghlan Murray for Mullen (41), Ivan Briody for Deane (55), Richard Snell for Kavanagh (55), Billy Delaney for O’Loughlin (66), Hugh O’Donnell for Phelan (66), Calum O’Brien for O’Rourke (72).
ST ANDREW’S COLLEGE:
Lee Boorman; Luke De Renzy, Gavin Beere, Alex Waters, Jack Rowe; Daniel Joyce, Kelvin Weymes; Stephen Locke, Ben Anderson, Robert Brady, Alexander McCauley, Mark Robinson, Nathan Veltom, Killian McCarthy, Greg Jones. Replacements: Ben Stephenson for Robinson (37), Alex Brady for Anderson (48), Shaba Fonteyn for Locke (48), Ben Ingram for McCarthy (48), Rory O’Reagan for Boorman (61), Daniel Hide for Weymes (70).
G Glennon (Leinster Branch).