Terenure hold their nerve to prevail in fraught endgame
Terenure College 13 Belvedere College 7:Terenure probably didn’t think it would come down to a fraught ending. But it did for just a couple of minutes. Early rounds of the cup and all that. Belvedere had possession of the ball. The clock was ticking down and the score was 13-7. A converted try would have won the match for the underdogs on a cold blustery day in Donnybrook.
But not this time for the Phil Werahiko-coached Belvedere, as Terenure held their nerve and also their place in the competition. But the losers’ desperate, collective collapse to the ground at the end when the ball was finally put into touch left few in the crowd under any illusion that they had come to win the match.
Certainly the end result was a fair one in a game where the backline of Terenure, despite two tries coming from their hooker Andy Roche, was the principal threat.
But for the entire game Belvedere made it difficult for their opponents and competed fiercely at the breakdown to deny Terenure the clean, quick possession they craved.
As it unfolded Belvedere were always chasing the match after Terenure got off to a flier and had their opening try bagged in under four minutes.
That score came from their first lineout, lock Robert Lalor soaring to secure the ball and the entire pack mauling over the line, Roche emerging from the tangle of bodies with the broadest smile.
But from there on the first half was a little ragged as a stiff breeze behind Belvedere and a greasy pitch, allied to some nerves, didn’t always help continuity.
Billy Dardis, however, was assured at fullback, while the centres, captain Stephen O’Neill and Harrison Brewer, were often the driving forces in the Terenure attack. Brewer, a converted forward, is as big a unit as you will see at centre in schools rugby and well able to move too.
On 16 minutes a line break from Terenure’s left wing Jordan Lynch set the Belvedere defence scrambling, while Neil Hubbard probably had the best chance of the half for Belvedere. He was clean through inside his opponents’ half but was confounded by the speed, the awkward bounce and a couple of Terenure hit men bearing down.
It was Terenure, though, who looked most dangerous ball in hand and they drew some fine tackling from Belvedere right across the park. When the first half closed with Terenure just 5-0 ahead from the early try, Belvedere supporters could have been forgiven for thinking that an upset was just over half an hour away.
Belvedere kept playing to their strengths and so often made the match an arm wrestle with their forwards’ tenacity and strong mauling. It was from a typical maul six minutes after the break that Terenure coughed up the first kickable penalty. But, with the wind in his face, Gerard Young couldn’t convert.
Terenure’s second try was not dissimilar to the first, this time a powerful maul in the right corner taking the pack over the line and again Roche the last man up with the ball. That was on 52 minutes for 10-0. Dardis kicked a penalty to make it 13-0.
Match over? No way. The move of the match arrived as inside centre Young chose a brilliantly angled line at pace and with the ball delivered perfectly knifed through the Terenure cover, barely a hand on his shirt as he touched down between the posts and converted for 13-7.
Suddenly the dynamic changed and there was an extra spring in the Belvedere step as they believed the match was within their grasp. That surge in self belief and tempo was too late and in fairness to Terenure, just like Belvedere, they too began putting in big hits to emerge as deserving winners with probably a little more in the tank to show next time.
TERENURE: B Dardis; M Madigan, H Brewer, S O’Neil (capt), J Lynch; R Church, T Schmidt; S Borza, A Roche, T Creagh, R Somerville, R Lalor, N O;Sullivan, P Thornton, D Doyle. Replacements: K Colgan and C Trenier for Borza and Creagh 44 mins; C Weakliam for Schmidt 49 mins; J Swaine for Church 62 mins; J Carroll for Roche 66 mins.
BELVEDERE: J Egan; C Clifford, J Hitchcock (capt), G Young, N Hubbard; M Whire, M Dempsey; I Soroka, D Butler, S McDonnell, R Fenlon, J Kelly, J Doyle, J McGauran, E Heneghan. Replacements: I Guerin for Kelly 50 mins, S McCullagh for White 50 mins; R McDermott for Hubbard 50 mins; J Hutchinson for Butler, B Lysaght for McDonnell 66 mins. Referee: B McNeice (LRR).