NEWBRIDGE COLlege 17
Two tries from fly-half Marc Hiney and the dangerous running of wing Colm Driver, allied to his goal-kicking, were the cornerstones of Catholic University Schools capture of their first ever Powerade Leinster Schools Vinnie Murray Senior Cup at Donnybrook yesterday.
CUS made all the early running, Driver just missing the posts with a penalty from the left and responding by breaking forward for full-back John McAllister to get within five metres of the first try.
Straight away, Driver drove clear again out of defence in a clear display of confidence. When the next penalty came his way, he knocked it through from 30 metres for a 3-0 lead in the 17th minute.
It seemed to wake Newbridge up to the situation. Left wing Phil O'Neill blazed around the outside executed a chip and chase only to knock the ball on in the try zone. It was a warning of what would come if CUS were content to absorb pressure. They weren't. Smooth interplay between Tadhg Guiry, Marc Hiney and Ruadhan Magee concluded with a sympathetic pop up pass for Hiney to make the breakthrough. Driver converted.
Newbridge flanker James Connolly, prop David Rigney and captain William O'Brien started to carve out front-foot rugby. Slowly, they began to roll through the phases. But, fly-half Peter Osbourne could not quite make either of two tricky penalty chances in the 31st and 35th minutes.
Well into injury-time, O'Neill recovered a clearance to set off on a blistering run that was too much for a stretched defence. Typically, Osbourne landed the touchline conversion to close it to 10-7 at the break.
As in the first, Driver ignited the new half with an electric burst for a gain of 40 metres, getting well beyond the first line of resistance. It created confusion and Hiney fended off a tackler for a swift finish. Driver added the conversion in the 47th minute.
The Kildare school had its own strike runner in O'Neill. He almost made it in again but for Hiney's alert tackle. Referee Robbie O'Flynn called back play for an earlier infringement. Osbourne kicked the penalty to make it a one-score game again.
In the blink of an eye, Hiney and centre David Beaky combined to put CUS inside the 40.
Although Driver pushed a penalty for offside, they stayed hot on the attack. Eventually, the forwards created the space for Hiney to give full-back John McAllister a free passage to the whitewash. Driver converted for a 24-10 advantage with six minutes left.
Newbridge bravely fought the good fight for their full-back John Jennings to breach the line.
Osbourne's conversion brought an end to The 'Bridge's journey and to CUS's destination as first-time champions in front of their jubilant supporters.
CUS: J McAllister; R Magee, D Beaky, T Kinsley, C Driver; M Hiney, T Guiry; J Bodkin, B Keelan, T Doyle, N Foster, D Gahan, M Beaky, K Beaky, R Sheady (capt). Replacements: K Millar for Foster (23 -- temp), N Millar for Keelan (27), K Cooke for M Beaky (42); J Fallon-Doran for Magee (57).
Newbridge College: J Jennings; P O'Neill, B O'Connor, G Burns, D McConville; P Osbourne, R Mullen; D Rigney, C Kings, B O' Donnell, E Dempsey, B Scully, C Dempsey, J Connolly, W O'Brien (capt). Replacements: C Fagan for Scully (6); B Delaney for Burns, J Hogan for E Dempsey both (64).
Referee: R O'Flynn, Leinster Branch.