UCD RFC …………………  28

Clontarf RFC ……………… 32

Jack Power

Clontarf lifted the Leinster Senior Cup in Donnybrook on Saturday, after triumphing over UCD in a crunching game that tested both teams to the core. UCD were last year’s winners and were determined to retain the cup. Whilst Clontarf were last years Division 1A Ulster Bank League winners and were looking to further garnish their trophy cabinet with the complimentary cup honour. Both teams were coming off the back of losses in the League recently, but the cup final proved to be a fiercely contested game.

Clontarf drew first blood with an early penalty and then went on to restlessly dominate Collidge for the opening twenty minutes. The Students handling suffered several early mishaps before their game began to warm up. Collidge centre Harry McNulty lead by example and started to gear up the UCD backline with several darting runs. The first UCD try was against the run of play, as the quick Collidge line intercepted a lazy Tarf pass. Winger Tom Flecther exploited the opportunity in breaking down the pitch and offloading to supporting centre Gary Ringrose to complete the try. Ringrose however skewed his easy conversion kick badly wide, giving UCD a lead of 5 points to 3. Clontarf answered in force with a try of their own, through a series of textbook heavy-duty rushes that fractured the Students try-line almost easily. The Collidge forwards attempted to drag their side back into the game by taking on the Clontarf pack; Risteard Byrne, Shane Grannell and Josh Murphy were all vicious in the breakdown. But Clontarf strongman Turlough Considine capitalized on a half chance to extend their lead; the forward snatched a loose ball and drove past the scrambling UCD shirts to score untouched. Clontarf continued to pen the Students into their own ’22 while holding a ten-point advantage.

UCD only found their feet in the latter stages of the first half. Defensively the Students tackles gained some steel, and they halted Clontarf’s surges. They found their form going forward too, as the back’s passing threatened the uneasy Clontarf tacklers. Collidge broke their scoring drought with a well-taken penalty by Ringrose. The Students moved up the gears and subjected Clontarf to an onslaught of incisive passing moves and direct runs. Fullback Billy Dardis came agonisingly close to finishing a link of passes with a try, but was denied inches from the line. It was prop Liam Hyland and the supporting forward pack who eventually out-muscled the Clontarf men and scored the crucial try. Ringrose confidently added the conversion for Collidge to level the game at 15 points aside at the close of the first half..

Collidge opened the second half by far the more dangerous side, but failed to punish their rivals on the scoreboard. Clontarf’s experience and grit saw them weather the storm of nearly-tries and half-chances, and they pushed on to stamp their authority back over the game. Winger Adam Byrne and Dardis both nearly touched down for a try, but their footing on the wet pitch let them down. It was Clontarf however who claimed the next five points. Captain Sam Cronin raced down the wing past the UCD tacklers, and then set up his supporting number to give Clontarf the lead. Garry Ringrose again kept Collidge in the game with another on-point penalty kick. Billy Dardis for UCD then went on to score the champagne try of the game. The fullback deftly chipped the ball over the onrushing Clontarf players, before sprinting onto the airborne ball and finishing in under the posts. Clontarf however showed their quality as un phased, they wore down the UCD players and picked their spots expertly, twice more breaching the vulnerable Collidge try line to score.

The well-drilled Clontarf side set up to protect their slim 32 – 28 lead with a strong defensive wall. Collidge stuck to their attacking guns in the final minutes, using their passing flair to try and find a hole in the wall of Red and Blue. Clontarf were aptly bullish in their resolve to hold out for the win, and they did so to deservedly claim the spoils. Clontarf lifted the Leinster Senior Cup after a well-fought game of rugby, and all eyes now turned to the Ulster Bank League; where all is still to play for.

 

UCD Starting XV

15. Billy Dardis

14. Adam Byrne

13. Garry Ringrose

12. Harry McNulty

11. Tom Flecther

10. Stephen Murphy

9. Nick McCarthy

1. Gordon Frayne

2. Risteard Byrne

3. Liam Hyland

4. Gavin Thornbury

5. Emmet McMahon (Captain)

6. Josh Murphy

7. Donagh Lawler

8. Shane Grannell

 

Conor
Sports Editor |News Writer |Campus.ie UCD Editor