Newbridge College 17 Belvedere College 10
Newbridge College held off a spirited fightback from Belvedere College at Energia Park on Tuesday afternoon to advance into the semi-finals of the Leinster Schools Senior Cup.
Joint-winners of the competition with Clongowes Wood College in 2020 – their proposed final meeting was cancelled because of the Covid-19 pandemic – Johne Murphy’s Kildare outfit flew out of the traps and had established a 17-point lead inside the opening 15 minutes of the contest.
Following an initial punt forward by Tadhg Brophy, explosive winger Todd Lawlor chased his own fly-kick and sensationally touched down with just 17 seconds on the clock.
Outhalf Paddy Taylor featured alongside Lawlor on the Newbridge side that won a Leinster Junior Cup as recently as last October and after superbly splitting the posts off the resulting conversion, he added a penalty to move his side into a double-figure lead.
Newbridge did lose Lawlor to injury in the 14th minute, but within seconds of taking his spot in the back-three Calum Corcoran had dotted down in almost identical fashion to the man he had replaced.
Although Taylor once again supplied the extras, he was also withdrawn inside the second quarter and Belvo subsequently gained a stranglehold for the very first time.
Senan Coakley drove powerfully over the whitewash on 25 minutes and even though Jed Tormey’s wayward bonus strike meant they were 12 points adrift (17-5) at the break, there was a sense that Phil Werahiko’s charges were starting to find their rhythm.
However, despite failing to add to that initial flourish, Newbridge displayed the grittier side of their game on the resumption. They were perhaps fortunate to win a penalty on the third-quarter mark as Belvo looked to pounce off a set-piece, but team captain Kieran Kelly got underneath Michael Carmody to deny the Belvo replacement a try with 12 minutes remaining.
Belvo eventually doubled their tally on 66 minutes when Alex Usanov used his strength to cross over for an unconverted effort. The 12-times champions had a last-gasp opportunity to potentially force the tie into a replay, only for referee Andrew Cole to once again penalise them off a lineout maul and thus confirm Newbridge's place in the last four.
SCORERS – Newbridge College: T Lawlor, C Corcoran try each; P Taylor pen, 2 cons. Belvedere College: S Coakley, A Usanov try each.
NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE: C Bolton; T Lawlor, J Collins, T Waters, C Mangan; P Taylor, T Brophy; F Mahon, M Masterson, P Stapleton; M Barry, S Treacy; K Kelly, R McGroary, S Fitzgibbon.
Replacements: C Corcoran for Lawlor (14 mins), T Bohan for Taylor (21), D Downing for Mahon, B Bohan for Stapleton (both 44), S Dawson for McGroary (55), O Udell for Masterson (60), R Byrne for Kelly, S Davitt for Barry (both 68).
BELVEDERE COLLEGE: S Hogan; P O'Grady, A Ryan, J Tormey, D O'Leary; C Daly, M McGrath; E McDermott, D Dowse, K Brennan; E Rees, A Spicer; W Kinsella, S Coakley, A Usanov.
Replacements: M Carmody for Hogan (20 mins); E Smith for Coakley (h-t), C Bateman for McDermott (41), L Gaughan for Rees, C O'Driscoll for McGrath (both 47).
Referee: A Cole (Leinster).