Trinity 27pts, Terenure 25pts; April 15th 2017
It’s difficult to know where to start on this one!
In front of a packed College Park crowd, Trinity beat Terenure on the last play of the season to finish safely at 6th in the league and earn their Division 1A status for next season.
Trinity came into the game in 9th place and staring down the barrel of a relegation playoff semifinal. DUFC were also on equal points with Terenure and Garryowen and only a single point behind St Mary’s.
The students had to win the game to save the team from another two weeks of nerve-racking relegation playoff rugby.
In what can only be described as a ‘stunning’ game of rugby, the Students left the drama to the last minute of the last game of the season. A big hit/tackle from #8 Tom Ryan dislodged the ball deep in the Trinity 22 just when Terenure looked poised to possibly score again.
In true counter attack fashion, the ball was moved through the hands of hooker Patrick Finlay to out-half James Fennelly to fullback Colm Hogan who, with an outside swerve, broke free from contact deep in his own end of the field. He straightened the line before putting outside centre Michael Courtney into space. Courtney took the ball to the half way line before releasing right wing Tim Maupin who raced in under the posts to score a sensational try.
U20s out half James Fennelly nailed the conversion for a sensational comeback from behind win under the most intense pressure, all to the approving cheers of the large home support.
Terenure came into the game on a great streak of form, and were probably the league’s top form team since Christmas. They had an emphatic win over league leaders (now winners) Lansdowne 40-17, and looked nailed on favourites to beat Trinity in this crucial game.
The game turned into a battle of Trinity’s attack against Terenure’s ferocious defence and counter attack. Trinity dominated possession and territory but struggled at times to penetrate the visitors suffocating defence. Terenure scrambled well and competed in the breakdowns with almost frenzied aggression and physicality.
Trinity’s Brian Mollen kicked a penalty early to reward Trinity pressure as they moved the ball neatly through the phases. Terenure however came back when their scrum half Stephen O’Neill found a gap in the Students fringe defence to score by the posts to bring the score to 7-3 in Terenure’s favour.
Mollen came back to kick a 40 metre effort before Terenure replied with a penalty of their own.
Trinity continued to attack and after several phases they created a fabulous team try when out half James Fennelly moved the ball too fullback Colm Hogan who broke free to put Micheal Courtney into space. Courtney put winger Brian Mollen away 30 metres out. Mollen just sped around under the posts for a classic 4 v 3 try. Unfortunately, he was hit while scoring and soon after had to leave the field with a suspected shoulder injury. 13-10 Trinity.
Terenure finished the half on a high when they chipped through and got the bounce behind the Trinity defence and won the chase to the try line to score an unlikely try through former Leinster Academy product Sam Coglan-Murray. Terenure led 17-13 at half time.
In the second half Trinity continued to dominate possession but found it increasingly difficult to penetrate the almost fanatical Terenure defence. Terenure on the other hand got into the Trinity half kicked another penalty to go 20-13 up. Later in the half they scored a well-taken try out wide to what looked like an unassailable lead.
But the students were well conditioned to get stuck in the game and the forwards looked hell-bent on getting at least a penalty try after several scrums on the Terenure line.
Incredibly the referee thought otherwise and the Terenure lifted the siege on their line.
Not to be denied the Students kept attacking and from a penalty decided to kick for the corner. The pack drove the ball on a maul brought together by captain Jack Burke who had plucked the ball out of the air. The forwards heaved the visitors back on a powerful display of collective strength, with big Andrew ‘Panda’ Keating coming up with the score. Out half James Fennelly nailed the conversion from the touchline to set up a nail-biting finale.
The game went ‘end to end’ as both teams frantically at times forced the ball, with Terenure kicking the ball with the wind and Trinity having to repeatedly run the ball back up field into desperate defence.
The game came down to the final minute and this is when the Students pulled off the ‘try of the year’ to win what looked for most of the game an unlikely victory.
This was a heroic ‘against the odds’ win for the home team, who now can have a two to three week run in to their final exams without the worry of relegation play offs!
To finish 6th in the top league in the land with a new look team with six or seven U20s players forcing their way on to the squad was an incredible achievement. A job well done by everyone involved.
Starting XV and Replacements:
15 Colm Hogan (Dan Joyce 60-70), 14 Tim Maupin, 13 Michael Courtney, 12 Kyle Dixon, 11 Brian Mollen (Evan Dixon 40), 10 James Fennelly, 9 Rowan Osborne, 1 Eric O’Sullivan, 2 Patrick Finlay, 3 Andrew Keating (Charlie Connolly 70), 4 Jack Burke, 5 Cian O’Dwyer, 6 Raef Tyrrell )Pierce Dargan 70), 7 Ross Todd (Jack Boland 40), 8 Tom Ryan.