First schools win for Mary's
Enniscorthy lads make history
St Mary's C.B.S. Enniscorthy made their own piece of history on Wednesday in Donnybrook when they won their first-ever Leinster Rugby Cup, beating Tullow Community School 18-10 to lift the McMullen Cup.
St Mary's CBS 18 Tullow CS 10
The schools played out a draw a week earlier and this replay was equally close on the artificial surface of Leinster Rugby HQ. Tullow C.S., which is Seán O'Brien's old alma mater, provided strong defensive resistance all day and it was a close contest.
St. Mary's started really well with number 8 Nicholas Doyle leading the charge with some driving runs, and they were rewarded with the opening points after five minutes.
Tullow C.S. didn't roll away from a maul and Aaron Coleman slotted a superb penalty kick from 35 metres into the wind. Tullow roared back with two quickfire salvos. They forced two touchdowns within the space of ten minutes.
They turned over a Mary's ruck and wing forward James O'Brien raced over from ten metres but the conversion was missed. Five minutes later from an almost identical situation Tullow C.S. scored their second try and this time it was scrum-half Ryan O'Neill who peeled off a loose maul to touch down in the corner. The conversion was missed as Tullow led 10-3.
That score definitely rocked the Enniscorthy boys but they did re-group and 15 minutes before half-time they scored a superb try which was straight from the training ground. Nicholas Doyle's quick ball from a line-out found Diarmuid Byrne who fired an accurate pass to out-half Aaron Coleman who exchanged passes with centre and captain Tony White.
Coleman then set Peter Breen away down the left and his speedy, mazy 40-metre run ended with him touching down for the try. Coleman kicked a superb conversion from the touchline.
It was 10-10 at the break. St. Mary's came out on the resumption with renewed vigour but they were not able to turn their superior possession into scores. The Tullow defence was excellent and Enniscorthy had Mark O'Connor sin-binned which was a further stumbling block.
St. Mary's forced an error on 59 minutes and Aaron Coleman kicked a brilliant penalty from 23 metres out on the touchline for a 13-10 lead. Tullow came storming back as the full-time whistle approached.
Peter Breen, Daniel English and Kieran Lambert were outstanding in defence. Tullow still had their feet on the gas and they led one final surge on the St. Mary's line but superb rucking from the forwards turned over the ball.
Four minutes into added time full-back Tim Bowler won a ball on his own '22 and after evading several tackle attempts he made it all the way to score a fine individual try and secure the match. It was a fitting finale to an excellent clash on Donnybrook's artificial surface.
Tony White lifted the cup to an enthusiastic following as they wrote their names into the history books.
The team coaches were St. Mary's teachers Thomas Stamp, who plays with Enniscorthy R.F.C's first team, Trevor Moulton, and area schools coach Ross Barbour.
Team: John Nolan, Seán Dempsey, Joe Byrne, Seán Kenny, Damien Byrne, Mark O'Connor, Jake Murphy, Nicholas Doyle, Diarmuid Byrne, Aaron Coleman, Daniel English, Tony White (capt.), Peter Breen, Kieran Lambert, Tim Bowler. Subs. - Robert Cullen, Daniel Donaher, Colm O'Brien, Camon O'Brien, James Squance, Bobby Keating, Jack McAuliffe, Paul Allen.