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Lansdowne J1 v MU Barnhall J1

Metropolitan Cup Final

23 – 9


The end of the line has arrived for this special team with them securing the double success of the league and cup in the 150th year anniversary season for the club. The facts are, they have played 19 games and achieved a 17 / 2-win ratio. They began the season with an opening loss, but since then the win column has continued to rise, and in so winning the Metropolitan cup for the 16th time for the club. In a competition that has been going on for over 100 years they have achieved something special that deserves applause.

As finals go their overall superiority and class shone through in beating a gallant opponent in MU Barnhall, who brought a great fighting spirit and **noisy band of followers with them to Donnybrook. The J1’s are a line up with a great team spirit and sense of togetherness.
Further, they are a classy, well-drilled team with wonderful defence and the knack of being able to up their performance during games which other teams find very difficult to cope with. This is the reason why their record this season has been so good, and they have conceded less points that any other team at this level.

I also have to say that this team is very much a squad, and for the various players that have played throughout, the season credit must go to one and all for their contributions in a superb season. Praise must also go to the coaches Mark Roche, Sam Myers and Conor Nugent who have moulded this team into what they are – a very difficult team to beat. Special mention to the physiotherapist Darragh Mangan, for his work with them which has been invaluable in restricting injury problems which could have weakened the team throughout the season.

The final itself was a typical final with both teams going at it from the outset to achieve superiority. We have come to expect a very high standard from the J1’s, and it is this class that was enough to achieve victory with something left in the tank. The game began with MU Barnhall on the attack. Big hits by both teams one of which led to the early replacement of flanker Matt Healy, following a heavy collision with an opposition player. The attack was repelled with a sweeping Lansdowne attack and the award of a penalty. They went to the corner rather than a shot at goal, but good defence meant that the score line remained scoreless for the opening 15 minutes.
The game was taking shape and the Lansdowne pack now started to kick into gear and took over the possession stakes moving the ball wide and gaining good field position. This led to an infringement and the award of a penalty with Billy Foley opening the scoring with a penalty in the 20th minute. However, Barnhall MU responded and 5 minutes later levelled the score line with a penalty of their own.

The J1 forwards went up a gear and gained position in the MU Barnhall 22 and from a line out the dominant Sean Walsh set up a rolling maul, which was collapsed leading to the award of a penalty try and changing the scoreline to 10 – 3 to Lansdowne. Back came MU Barnhall, to their credit, and again they showed a lot of intent in trying to break through the well organized and highly effective defensive setup. They did manage to secure some penalties arising out of infringements by Lansdowne and were able to reduce the scoreline first to 10 – 6 points, and then to 10 – 9 by halftime.

One felt although the game was close that Lansdowne had more to give, and they continued to manage the game well as the second half began. They upped the pace of the game, which had become a bit stop/start up until that point. Following some fine back movement, they got into good field position looking to increase their score tally. It was from this section of play that following good movement by Peter Hastie, through the hands of centre Kyle Dixon and then a long pass to Liam O’Sullivan that a try was scored in the left corner. Foley delivered a fine conversion to push the scoreline out to 17 – 9 for Lansdowne.

As hard as MU Barnhall tried they were controlled by this slick Lansdowne outfit, who managed the game well and one always felt that there was more in the locker if required. MU Barnhall continued to probe away but could not break through the well-organized defence. The rest of the game was defined by the accuracy of Foley who added to the score line with a penalty, making the scoreline 20 – 9, and then 10 minutes later executed a fine 40-meter penalty kick to leave the scoreline at 23 – 9, which was to be the final scoreline.

The game itself was played in good spirits but there were a couple of yellow cards handed out by the referee because of the combative nature of both sides giving their all to achieve a positive outcome.

I must give special mention to Sean Dunne who for me was the man of the match playing in the front row. He carried the ball very well throughout the course of the game, performed well in the scrums and was a tireless worker in the loose making some very important tackles. Billy Foley had a very solid game and showed the benefits of having a top goal kicker in the team, applying a lot of scoreboard pressure to the opposition in the final. Lansdowne used their bench to good effect with Richie Allen, Adam (Teddy) Boland, Dylan Tighe, Jack Matthews and Alex Kinahan all coming onto the field and making good contributions.
Two other mentions are for scrum half Michael Walsh who is returning to New Zealand. Safe trip home and thank you for your contribution. To Liam O’Sullivan (Mr Reliable) and to the legend Teddy Boland congratulations on wining the double for the second time, having both played the last time the club achieved this feat a number of years ago.
At the final whistle there were wild celebrations for the very long season and the Holy Grail had been reached by this team. With Darragh Murphy, the captain who had a fine game, lifting the trophy and the spirits of the Lansdowne supporters on this Tuesday night in achieving the league and cup double.

In summary, what a season! It has been a pleasure reporting on this team, and it is hard to do them justice in words how good they have been. They have written their own bit of history into the record books in securing the double in the 150th year since the club was founded. Whereas the trophies in the cabinet may attract some dust, the memories they have created and achieved will live on forever never to be forgotten and for that they deserve phenomenal credit. Chapeau! to the J1’s, job done and huge respect for all involved… magic.


Match Report – John Kilroy




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