Gonzaga survive second half onslaught to reach Leinster Schools Senior Cup final

Newbridge fall short despite second half comeback in semi-final at Energia Park

Gonzaga College 33 Newbridge College 31

Gonzaga survived a second half onslaught by Newbridge at Energia Park on Tuesday afternoon to progress to the Leinster Schools Senior Cup final.

A rematch of the League final, their previous meeting had provided both sets of coaches with plenty of research into how best to proceed.

Most of the early action took place inside the Newbridge half, with Gonzaga’s Hugo McLaughlin making a break and forcing their defence into miraculous work in twice holding the ball up over their own line.


Then, Newbridge struck, like a bolt of lightning Paddy Taylor swept inside the defence to feed Ciaran Mangan for a beautifully crafted try converted by Taylor in the 10th minute.

Their lead didn’t last long however, outhalf Paddy Martin looked to spin the ball, and Aidan O’Flanagan stepped into an interception near halfway for Stephen McMahon to level it up in the 14th minute.

Newbridge hit back again with Mangan’s sleight of hand enabling Todd Lawlor to speed in behind, ducking and diving to the line, before Taylor kicked over for the extras.

Gonzaga had to change the pace of the game, plumbing the lineout and maul to swing penalties and position, leading to a yellow card for prop Billy Bohan in the 28th minute.

A five metre scrum was the platform from which number eight Pal Wilson, lurking as the first receiver, powered through a tackle for McMahon to make it all-square again.

Then, McLaughlin carved an opening to go close at the posts and, from the ensuing scrum, the ball was whipped right where hooker Luke McLaughlin grounded. McMahon’s slotted the conversion to make it 21-14 to Gonzaga at the break.

An incision by O’Flanagan, with Hugo McLaughlin on his shoulder to take the ball home, and McMahon adding the conversion made it double-scores 28-14 in the 42nd minute.

Then, John Walsh was binned for an indiscretion and Gonzaga rolled forward for Mikey Wall to threaten on the left.

A penalty advantage meant they could come back for the lineout and maul which delivered a second try for Luke McLaughlin for a 19-point lead in the third quarter.

Newbridge quickly hunted a reaction, Smithers-Larkin was tackled into touch by Wall and outstanding captain Shane Treacy kept charging on. They were twice within inches under the posts before going wide for Lawlor to go over for 33-19 in the 57th minute.

The work of Shane Davitt and Daniel Cox won Newbridge important turnovers and prop Billy Bohan’s dummy set up an attack which Taylor was able to turn into a try.

With the deficit down to nine points Newbridge just kept coming. With Davitt and Mark Masterson motoring through contact and secondrow Davitt coming again to crash over the line, Taylor converted to make it a two-point game at the death. But Gonzaga held on for the win.

SCORERS – Gonzaga: L McLaughlin 2 tries; A O’Flanagan, P Wilson, H McLaughlin try each; S McMahon 4 cons. Newbridge: T Lawlor 2 tries; P Taylor try, 3 cons; C Mangan, S Davitt try each.

GONZAGA: H McLaughlin; JP Breslin, A O’Flanagan, J Browne, M Wall; S McMahon, T Brophy; F O’Neill, L McLaughlin, A McVerry; J Kennedy, T Wyley; C Kennedy, G O’Grady, P Wilson (capt).

Replacements: J O’Dwyer for Brophy, J Shiel for McVerry (both 59 mins); J Kelly for O’Grady (60).

NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE: T Lawlor; R Allen, C Mangan, P Taylor, A Larkin-Smithers; P Martin, T Brophy; JR Walsh, M Masterson, B Bohan; S Davitt, S Treacy (capt); J Sheedy, R McGroary, R Munnelly.

Replacements: S O’Loughlin for Sheedy (temp, 27 mins); D Cox for McGroary (42); D Connolly for Allen, H Owens for P Martin (both 46); J Dennis for Sheedy (68); C O’Loughlin for Walsh, J Montgomery for Masterson (both 70),

Referee: A Cole (Leinster).