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U20s McCorry Cup Semi Final
Sunday 14th April 2024 – College Park

Having lost the toss to determine which club would host this first McCorry Cup semi-final, Terenure College RFC U20’s travelled to College Park yesterday to play Dublin University FC in the wonderfully picturesque surroundings of Trinity College Dublin.

You could cut the tension with a knife as the opening whistle approached.  Terenure were licking their lips at the chance to have another go at Trinity.  Having lost to them home and away previously this season in the Prem 1 League, they felt there was some unfinished business. Trinity may have been missing some players, with their first choice out-half injured, but so were Terenure with two big men in the pack, Ollie Udell and Kieran Kelly not fit to start.

Sponsors of the U20s Squad

Trinity were playing down the hill with the wind in the first half, and after only 3 minutes Terenure were down to 14 men for 10 minutes when Tim Staunton was yellow carded for a high tackle.  Within a minute Trinity made their advantage pay; from a driving maul they scored their first try which they converted to take a 7-0 lead.

Terenure tore into their opposition and looked to out-work them in every position, none more so than second-row and captain Oisín Shannon.  It felt like he showed up for more work carrying ball than the Trinity pack combined.  Time and again he and No.8 Darragh Brooks carried, and time and again the pack recycled.  Trinity started to concede penalties, and with it they conceded ground.  Terenure kept the tempo high and moved the big Trinity pack over and back until the gaps appeared.  After some great phase play the final pass went to Tom Murray who scored on the left.  A fantastic conversion by out-half Jim Kennedy brought the scores level at 7-7.

Back came Trinity but Terenure were not going to be intimidated.  With their numbers now restored to 15 Terenure upped their intensity further.  After some great defence wide on the left Terenure made a turnover, and left wing Fintan Dignam raced up the touchline.  Terenure smelled blood, and after some more physical carries from the Nure pack the backs received quick ball.  Inside centre Jack Grimes looked to chip, but faked and gave a late pass to Kennedy who raced through the gap to score a try under the posts which he converted to take Terenure into a 14-7 lead.

Trinity were keen to get the next score and they moved the ball through their forwards with some big carries.  Terenure started to concede some penalties but Trinity didn’t take advantage, handling errors or knock-ons stymied their progress.  There was some ferocious defence from Terenure with some massive tackles.  Terenure hooker Michael Murphy may have been the smallest forward on the field, but he didn’t play like that.  One double-tackle by Terenure led to Trinity giving away another penalty at the breakdown and Terenure’s attack took over.  Smart carries and quick recycling took Terenure deep into Trinity’s red zone, but Trinity dug in and forced a penalty at the breakdown to relieve the pressure.  Their relief was only temporary as Terenure came straight back eventually forcing their way over the line to score their third try from the hard working captain Shannon.  Again Kennedy converted to take Terenure into a 21-7 lead.  It appeared like Trinity understood they were in a serious fight and they started to play with more purpose.  They used the conditions and some Terenure indiscipline to force their way deep into Terenure territory.  Inevitably the reward came, with Trinity moving the ball through their backs for a change, forcing their way over for a converted try to bring them back to within 7 points before the referee brought the half to a close.

With Terenure having the benefit of the hill and the wind the feeling was that they could use the elements to their advantage.  However, Trinity started the second half much like they had finished the first, with clear intent to play through their pack and force their physical advantage.  Despite resolute defence from the Nure men Trinity slowly gained territory and within minutes on the second half starting they forced a try on the left in a similar position to Terenure’s opening try.  Unlike Terenure, Trinity could not manage the conversion, so Terenure held on to a slender two point lead.

At this point the conditions totally changed.  Rain arrived and the wind appeared to shift to cross-wind with no clear advantage to either team. It felt like whoever scored next would have a massive impact on proceedings and it was Terenure who took the initiative.  After some more varied play switching between forwards and backs, and back again, Nure moved down field.  Eventually their pressure told forcing a penalty just outside the 22 metre line.  Terenure didn’t hesitate and took their points with a well-struck penalty by Jim Kennedy to bring the score to 24-19.

After another high tackle Terenure were again reduced to 14 men with Brooks sent to the bin.  Ben Nolan also took a shoulder knock and was replaced by Evan Collins.  Trinity seized the opportunity and continued with their focus on playing through their pack.  They were awarded several penalties in the Nure half, one right under the Terenure posts.  Perhaps naively they turned down the points, and opted for a scrum to take advantage of their numerical supremacy.  Heroic centre Yago Fernandez Vilar was having another influential match and to add to all his other attributes he now stepped in to pack down in the back-row. This left Terenure looking vulnerable out wide, but the replacement front row of Matthew Lydon, Keith Byrne and Joe Lockhart took matters into their own hands, forcing Trinity to collapse resulting in a penalty to Terenure.

Back came Trinity again desperate for the try they needed to level proceedings.  But with Brooks restored Terenure’s defence once again delivered and Trinity were held up over the line giving Terenure a goal-line drop-out.  Trinity were emptying their bench and trying to force proceedings.  Terenure were conceding penalties.  From one of those penalties Trinity failed to make touch and after fullback Tom Murray fielded the ball he passed to Dignam who nearly went the length of the pitch.  Unfortunately, the last pass went forward and Trinity were awarded a scrum inside their 22.

Shortly after, Kennedy took a heavy knock to his thigh and was replaced by Harvey O’Leary.  His halfback partner Peter MacNamara who had another great game was also replaced by Cillian Keaney.  Terenure were not going to sit back and wait for Trinity to play, they were giving as good as they got and were determined to play the game in Trinity’s half at every opportunity.  Time and again Trinity looked to probe with some testing forays into Terenure territory, but Terenure were up to the task and each time after a strong carry the ball was kicked downfield for Trinity to begin again.

A lovely grubber kick from O’Leary back into the Trinity half and into touch seemed to have a significant impact.  While it would be unfair to say Trinity dropped their shoulders, the moment certainly seemed to renew Terenure’s confidence.  Terenure continued to play with that confidence and eventually forced another penalty which Fernandez converted to give Terenure a very important 8-point lead, 27-19.

Time was now running out and with Trinity awarded a penalty far out on the right they finally made the decision to go for the posts, hoping that if successful they would have just enough time to mount another attack.  But the ball fell short and after a quick recycle Terenure kicked the ball dead to spark celebrations for the Lakelands visitors, both on the pitch and off it from the large visiting crowd.

Terenure now await the victor of the other semi-final between Clontarf and UCD to see who they will play in the McCorry Cup Final.

Terenure Team

  1. Alex Cashman
  2. Michael Murphy
  3. Tim Staunton
  4. Oisín Shannon (Capt.)
  5. Ultan Byrne
  6. Ben Nolan
  7. Sean Ruane
  8. Darragh Brooks
  9. Peter MacNamara
  10. Jim Kennedy
  11. Fintan Dignam
  12. Jack Grimes
  13. Yago Fernandez Vilar
  14. James Clarke
  15. Tom Murray
  16. Keith Byrne
  17. Matthew Lydon
  18. Joe Lockhart
  19. Evan Collins
  20. Cillian Keaney
  21. Harvey O’Leary
  22. Oscar Morgan

Referee: Mark Hynes (ARLB)

Line 1: Philip O’Brien (ARLB)

Line 2: Ross Mackay (ARLB)