Classy Counsel

McMullen Cup won with superb show

Dean Goodison

Action from Friday’s success for Good Counsel in Donnybrook
Action from Friday’s success for Good Counsel in Donnybrook
Good Counsel (New Ross) celebrate after Friday's fantastic McMullen Cup final win in Donnybrook

Good Counsel College saved their biggest McMullen Cup victory of the tournament for the final as they ran Ardee Community College to shreds in Donnybrook on Friday to take the title.

Good Counsel 60 Ardee C.S. 15

The New Ross establishment is no stranger to success in the sporting arena, but the former school of Ireland international Tadhg Furlong finally has something to celebrate on the rugby fields.

In truth, this result was never in doubt. Ardee simply couldn't handle the pace and trickery of the Good Counsel backs, jinking in and out with ease. The County Wexford school bagged nine tries, with seven different players going over, on their way to the cup.

The devastating performance began with barely 60 seconds on the board. After winning a penalty for Ardee not rolling away, Good Counsel drove at their opponents' line and opened the scoring under the posts through Mikie Dwyer, following good work by Daniel Murphy.

Barry Roche added the extras, the first of four successful kicks for the Ross number nine. His next came in the sixth minute, moments after Dwyer's pass sent Billy Wickham racing away through the middle to touch down for a second Counsel try.

Ardee found their feet and started to look dangerous as the half wore on, but the Counsel forwards ate up the tackles and their line was rarely threatened. When the Ross men turned over ball on their own '22, they broke quickly from left to right with Ben Sutton racing clear from Michael Dunleavy's perfect pass.

The Louth school did well to drag Sutton down ten yards from their own posts but the wing man popped the pass back to an onrushing James Dunleavy and he was able to go in under the posts. Roche converted for 21-0.

Joe Mulholland went close to points for Ardee but some brilliant defending kept him out. When Counsel broke from deep again, after more good inter-change between Dwyer and Billy Wickham, Morgan Purcell hared away on the right wing and scored try number four.

Roche's conversion made it 28-0 at the interval. His side didn't waste much time after the re-start. Cameron O'Leary, on for the first-half placekicker, used his significant speed to outrun the Ardee defence down the right wing and Wickham converted to make it 35-0.

A break and a popped pass off the deck by Dwyer three minutes later started a move that saw Wickham feed Purcell, and the pacy outside centre scored in the corner. Ardee finally hit back when Andrew Bingham touched down in the 49th minute to make it 40-5.

A looping Wickham pass, taking out a couple of defenders, allowed the excellent Liam Stafford to score the try his work deserved, but again Ardee marched down the other end and went over in the corner through Mulholland.

A brilliant line-out routine, between James Fitzgerald and Daniel Murphy, saw the former score in the corner. Tadhg Cody added the extras with a fantastic kick from close to the left touchline to stretch the lead to 52-10.

Purcell latched onto a tricky forward kick to complete his hat-trick with six minutes of normal time remaining, and Wickham followed it with a succulent drop goal. Mulholland had the final say with a last-gasp try for Ardee but there was no denying Good Counsel the McMullen Cup glory.

Good Counsel: Michael Dunleavy, Ben Sutton, Morgan Purcell, Mikie Dwyer, Liam Stafford, Billy Wickham (capt.), Barry Roche; Eoghan Byrne, James Fitzgerald, Jordan O'Brien, Liam Furness, Matthew Redmond, James Dunleavy, Tadhg Cody, Daniel Murphy. Replacements - Conor Dalton, Cameron O'Leary, Thomas Ryan, Jack McGrath, Cathal O'Brien, Stephen Murphy, Peter Lawlor.

Ardee: Andrew Bingham, Donal McKenny, Joe Mulholland, Connor Hennessy (capt.), Cian Taaffe, Conor Gillespie, Colm Murphy; Cyr Bakekolo, Barry Cousins, Tadhg Callan, Eoin Sullivan, Cathal Duff, Liam Devitt, James Reilly, Conor Watters. Replacements - Lorcan Dixon, John Commins, Taylor Diamond, Liam Hoey, Patrick Cotter, Jake Finlay, Danny Morse.

Referee: Berney White (Leinster).

Wexford People