When the final whistle blew in Donnybrook on Tuesday night, it signalled the end of a ferocious encounter that had ebbed and flowed for the entire 80 minutes...
And who knows, if Lansdowne had another five minutes, perhaps they could have pulled off another great escape?
Had Lansdowne completed a miraculous comeback, it would have undoubtedly been hard on a U.C.D team who on the balance of play probably deserved their narrow victory. Going into this game, U.C.D were the only team to have defeated Lansdowne all season and it was clear from the off that the students were not going to be intimidated by the Fraser McMullen Cup champions.
The physicality of this contest was truly remarkable and both sides repeatedly flew into contact with furious intensity. Liam Bourke and Ross Keller exchanged penalties within the first five minutes but it was U.C.D who began to boss territory and possession thereafter. While U.C.D were dominating the ball, indiscipline was costing the college side dearly as they repeatedly let Lansdowne off the hook by conceding penalties when attacking with real purpose.
Throughout the contest both sides were guilty of turning down kickable opportunities in favour of going for seven points and while this strategy was costly in the most part, Lansdowne's decision to kick to the corner half an hour in was rewarded when U.C.D no.8 Peadar Timmons was sin binned for collapsing what appeared to be a try scoring maul.
With the resultant man advantage, Lansdowne opted for a scrum five metres out and a pre-rehearsed backrow move was enough for flanker Ross Deacon to crash over following good work from no.8 Brian Moylett. Although centre Ross Keller struck his conversion sweetly, it rebounded off the left hand upright to leave the score 8-3 in favour of Lansdowne at half time.
While Lansdowne had started the game slowly, they proceeded to grow in stature with every passing minute and pressed home their man advantage early in the second half when Keller stroked over a penalty to make the score 11-3 for the McMullen Cup champs. Facing an eight point deficit, it was imperative that U.C.D scored next and score next they did. Substitute Daniel Leavy was only on the pitch a matter of minutes before crashing over the line from six metres out before outhalf Liam Bourke nailed his conversion attempt from wide on the right to reduce Lansdowne's advantage to a solitary point.
Leavy was beginning to exert a major influence on proceedings and on more than one occasion displayed superb imagination to offload in the tackle. Second row Hugo Mays was also having a powerful game, making ground almost every time he carried but it was one of Leavy's offloads that sent scrum half Bobby Holland racing into the Lansdowne twenty two with eleven minutes to go. U.C.D appeared to have learned from their disciplinary issues in the first half and calmly sucked Lansdowne defenders in for a couple of phases before spinning the ball wide for Holland to cross practically unopposed.
Bourke duly added the extras to give the students a 17-11 lead. It could have been all over for Lansdowne two minutes later as U.C.D again attacked with menace but following some heroic defence, Bourke had to settle for a three pointer after Lansdowne infringed at the side of a ruck.
Facing a nine point deficit with only minutes remaining, Lansdowne showed the type of grit and drive that has already served them so well this year, launching wave after wave of attack at U.C.D, who often had to resort to giving away penalties to stop the flow of pressure.
Although time was running out, Lansdowne continued to push for a score and were rewarded for their efforts in the last play of the game when prop Adam Boland rumbled over. Unfortunately for Lansdowne, it was too little too late and Mark Roche's missed conversion attempt would prove to be the last kick of the game handing U.C.D a 20-16 victory and the McCorry Cup.
UCD: 15. Conal Dogherty 14. Rory Kavanagh 13. Jamie Glynn 12. Christopher Best 11. James Carroll 10. Liam Bourke CAPTAIN 9. Bobby Holland 1. Edward Byrne 2. Peter Tierney 3. Gordon Frayne 4. Cillian Duff 5. Hugo Mays 6. Josh Van Der Flier 7. Andrew Murphy 8. Peadar Timmons
REPLACEMENTS: 16. James Harrison 17. Shane Delahunt 18. Oisin Tegeler 19. Daniel Leavy 20. Jonathan McDonnell 21. Finnbarr McGowan 22. Peter Conlon
LANSDOWNE: 15. Richie Lenehan 14. Michael Mellett 13. Mark Roche 12. Ross Keller 11. Eoghan Quinn 10. Tom Kiersey 9. Cathal Murtagh 1. Peter Dooley 2. Robin Foot 3. Adam Boland 4. Michael Lenahan 5. Joe O'Brien 6. Ross Deacon 7. Akhlaque Khan CAPTAIN 8. Brian Moylett
REPLACEMENTS: 16. Mark O' Brien 17. Conor Kilcoyne 18. Jonathan Rice 19. Damien Egan 20. John Kennedy 21. Andrew McEvoy 22. Tom Farrell
© Leinster Branch
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