On a beautiful spring day in the Belfield Bowl the Terenure College RFC U20’s continued their Prem 1 League campaign against a high flying UCD team.

The teams had met earlier in the season in Lakelands. Our home fixture proved to be a great game of rugby with the Terenure U20’s triumphant. The return fixture was always going to be a close game again and so it turned out to be.

Terenure started the game well and showed plenty of willingness to take on their bigger opponents always looking to keep the ball alive and taking every opportunity to use the backline.

Sponsors of the U20s Squad

Despite our early possession we were unable to score points. UCD playing to their strengths with a heavier pack forced a number of early penalties against our scrum and found themselves in our 22 early into the game. The resulting pressure lead to a UCD converted try. 

From the restart we applied pressure in the UCD 22 and remained calm and assured in our ball handling. Such pressure often creates confusion in the opposition defence and a mistake by the UCD defence and pressure form right winger Odhran McKeon meant a yellow card for holding back our winger. We continued to play the rugby in the UCD half and were easily holding all the territory for long spells. This ultimately led to centre Jack Grimes finding room in the UCD defence and from 10 metres out and accelerating through a gap scored a well worked try close to the posts.  Harvey O’Leary easily converted the try and the score was now tied at 7-7. 

UCD at this point were starting to show their abilities while working through phases with regularity and causing us difficulties. UCD crossed the Nure whitewash again and took the lead 12-7, failing to convert their second try. 

Despite being under pressure in our own half the Terenure XV defended resolutely and forced a number of turnovers and mistakes in the UCD attack. Our scrum continued under pressure and it was clear that the UCD were targeting us in this area and causing us problems. But we battled hard for parity and the Terenure pack never relented with all of our eight bravely taking the fight to UCD. Captain Oisín Shannon leading the group with his usual fierce commitment and all other seven players in the pack working hard to carry ball and defending resolutely on the fringes and working to ensure a competition at ruck time. 

After a number of phases we managed to make our way down to the UCD 22 and following a sustained period of attacking by Terenure with the forwards and backs all probing the UCD defence, James Clarke managed to keep his balance, secure the ball in his hands and make a dart for the line and score a well deserved try under the posts, O’Leary again converting.  We were now leading 14-12. It was a crucial score and meant we went into the half time break leading after a very competitive first half with little between the teams. 

UCD started the second half with an intensity that put the Terenure team under pressure from the start. The key for Terenure in the second half was to play as much of the game in the UCD territory and use the wind in our favour. Harvey O’Leary at out half was varying our game well to ensure the UCD defence was kept guessing.  

Continued UCD pressure and their pack keeping things very tight lead to another UCD try from a rolling play. UCD tails were now up and they had started the second half with an intent to finish the game in the first quarter of the second half. This Terenure side were in no mood to roll over and take a back seat in this thriller. 

As the UCD lineout started to wobble and Oliver Udell cleaned up at the tail, our confidence grew. Our scrum stabilised and Darragh Brooks and Peter McNamara combined well to control our ball at the base. Jim Kennedy took ball from deep and continued to test the UCD defence often selflessly running into a staunch defence but nonetheless asking questions of the UCD defenders. With Ciaran Kelly, Oisín Shannon and Sean Ruane all driving the team forward we caused problems for the UCD defence close to their line. Sensing an opportunity, Jack Grimes again came at speed in the UCD 22 and took a beautiful ball in hand to run decisively over the UCD line and make it 17-19 to the Nure, with O’Leary missing the conversion on the right. 

Tension was rising and it was clear that if we were to leave Belfield with the points we would need at least another score to ensure UCD were kept at bay. Following a number of defensive plays in our own half we repelled a wave of UCD attacks and our line remained intact. We eventually got ourselves back into the UCD half and forced them into mistakes. With the clock running down we earned a penalty and Harvey O’Leary struck a beautiful kick from inside the UCD half to make it 17-22. Our replacements were now having a significant influence on proceedings and none more so than Joe Lockhart who carried ball and stopped UCD attackers in their tracks. 

We managed to play out the last moments of the game in the UCD half and our defensive line stood tall and strong and never yielded an inch to their opponents. UCD continued to run up cul-de-sacs and eventually the game concluded on a forced UCD error due to fierce Terenure defence. A great win for the Terenure College RFC 20’s that all players contributed to, including the replacements. It would remiss not to mention the Terenure front row of Alex Cashman, Oliver Udell and Tim Stuanton. Despite being under pressure they fought valiantly for their team and their spirit and determination epitomised the whole team’s effort in a memorable and hard fought win.