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Dan Punch lands knock-out blow as Roscrea stun Newbridge in comeback win

Newbridge had taken a 22-0 lead in just 18 minutes before Roscrea came storming back

Cistercian College Roscrea 25 Newbridge College 22

Dan Punch landed the knock-out blow to complete Roscrea’s miraculous comeback win over Newbridge College in the first round of the Leinster Schools Senior Cup on a blustery afternoon at Energia Park in Donnybrook.

It looked like the furthest thing from reality when Newbridge were smartly into their pattern of play, pulling their opponents left and right to build a 22-point advantage in just 18 minutes.

It all started when the forwards cracked open Roscrea from a lineout, which turned into a maul for Lee Fitzpatrick to touchdown in the third minute. Then Fullback Todd Lawlor was sharp enough to spot a weak link at the ruck, blasting into open ground where his pace was too much for the cover in the ninth minute.

The clinical nature of Newbridge’s play was reflected in their third try as missed tackles allowed the generation of momentum for Ciarán Mangan to reach for the line on the left.


The next significant phase of play was pure class. when off a set play Paddy Taylor cut the defence in two, accelerating clear of the chasers.

It would have been easy, even understandable, were Roscrea heads to drop. On the contrary, there was front-foot ball from Evan Brophy and Rob Carney.

A lineout take by Joe Finn prompted a maul, Eoin Naughton going it alone before Dara Cosgrave nabbed Carney for a turnover penalty close to the line.

A brilliant burst by Joshua Powell and deft offload to Carney was shut down, a sign of how Roscrea were showing glimpses without putting it all together.

Powell was posing problems with his passing. It looked like it did the trick when putting William Hayes through for a try only to be called back for a forward pass.

When the forwards couldn’t convert from a five-metre penalty, sublime handling by centres Jack Deegan and Carney provided Punch with a try in the 33rd minute.

Roscrea came out after the break with renewed vigour, Jack Deegan slipping a tackle, Finn and James Miller driving hard for Brophy to complete the attack. Deegan converted.

Deegan’s ambition meant he was game to take a potshot from 45 metres, despite the unkind conditions. He drilled the points for 22-15 in the 42nd minute.

There was a definite sense of deja vu when Newbridge indiscipline dared Deegan to repeat his process. He obliged to make it 18 points in 13 minutes of game time. Hayes then snatched a turnover to heighten the sense of a stunning comeback win.

There was a collective counter ruck and a gang tackle on Cosgrave into touch in front of the Roscrea supporters. They just had to get in front. Punch took a chance on an interception on halfway that came off in spectacular style. Deegan converted for a 25-22 lead in the 65th minute.

It was enough time for Newbridge to mount a furious attack in which their supreme ball retention was only mastered by an inspired defence in which Finn and Hayes were outstanding.

SCORERS – Roscrea: D Punch 2 tries; E Brophy try; J Deegan 2 pens, 2 cons. Newbridge: P Taylor try, con; L Fitzpatrick, T Lawlor, C Mangan try each.

CISTERCIAN COLLEGE ROSCREA: R Donnelly; D Punch, R Carney, J Deegan, H Finlay; J Powell, A Moloney; F Hogan, E Naughton, H Maher; J Finn, C Kearney; J Miller, W Hayes (capt), E Brophy.

Replacements: S Killeen for Kearney (42 mins); S Cusack for Donnelly (51); B O’Rourke for Powell (60); O Doody for Naughton (66).

NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE: T Lawlor; R Allen, C Mangan, P Taylor (Capt), D Cosgrave; P Martin, D Connolly; J R Walsh, L Fitzpatrick, B Bohan; S Davitt, C Hanly; D Cox, J Dennis, R Munnelly.

Replacements: P Forde for Davitt (h-t); J Montgomery for Fitzpatrick (38 mins); J Bohan for Walsh (44); O Booth for Dennis (53); B O’Connor for Connolly, B Cross for Martin (both 54); C O’Loughlin for B Bohan, R Taylor for Cosgrave (both 61).

Referee: J Carvill (Leinster).

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