Dark grey skies , bitter cold temperature and a soft , heavy pitch greeted the Irish Colleges when they took on the Scottish Universities at Peppermill Rd, the home to Edinburgh Universities impressive floodlit sports grounds.
The Irish students were hoping to follow up there convincing victory over the Welsh colleges with another victory and no stone had been left unturned by the teams mentors in their effort to achieve this. The Irish Colleges started strongly and after 15 minutes, following some good phases of continuity, Eric Moloney streaked over for the first try of the night. Outhalf Keelan McGowan, who was winning his first Irish Colleges Cap, narrowly missed the conversion.
Over the following 25 minutes, Colm Murphy, Stephen Corr ,Dave Houston and finally Hooker Ollie McCormack all went in for tries as the Scottish struggled to deal with the committed and aggressive manner in which the Irish Students approached the game. Keelan McGowan successfully converted all remaining four tries in the first half to leave the game decidedly in favour of the Irish Students at 33pts to nil.
The Second half began in a similar fashion to the first; the Irish boys attacking the game with a brand of fire that Gareth Fitzgerald and Alex Ryan helped bring to the performance. Considering the conditions, both teams were playing expansive rugby; with the ball being moved at pace from side to side as both teams sought out weaknesses in the other teams cover. Stephen Corr then had two tries in the first ten minutes, which essentially decided the game. McGowan converted both and one wondered would these blows in quick succession knock the stuffing completely out of the Scots.
Over the remaining thirty minutes, however, the Irish Third level team saw a completely different Scottish side to the one who had conceded 47 points. The pattern of the game completely changed, with the Irish side failing to add to their scoring tally and the Scottish side coming alive and putting together attack after attack on the Irish line. Scotland were now playing with a new determination that had been curiously absent in the first half. Only some heroic defence kept the Scottish Students from crossing over the Irish line, with captain Michael McKeever leading by example with some bone crunching tackling in the centre.
When the final whistle went, the score of 47 points to nil in favour of the Irish colleges was extremely flattering and indeed on another day, anybody present for the final period of the game would think that the Scots would offer a far tougher test. However this is not to take away from a very impressive Irish Colleges team, who excelled in all the various aspects of the game.
The running at pace when presented with fast clean ball, by the Irish backs, was something to be admired and the decision making when presented with attacking opportunities was fast and clinical. With two victories giving the Irish Colleges team a 100% record for the season, team manger Don Spicer and all involved , can look back with a huge sense of satisfaction at what were very impressive performances.
The ICRU team which played against the Scottish Universities
15 Darragh Hughes Garda College. Garda RFC
14 Pat O'Connor Limerick Institute of Technolgy. Shannon
13 Eric Moloney Cork Institute of Technology. UCC
12 Michael McKeever (Captain) UU @ Jordanstown. Belfast Harlequins
11 Francis Cooney Dublin Institute of Technology. DLSP
10 Keelan McGowan National College of Ireland. Blackrock
9 Alex Ryan Cork College of Commerce. Cork Constitution
1 Colum Murphy Dublin Institute of Technology. Blackrock
2 Ollie McCormack ITT Dublin. St. Mary's
3 Garrett Fitzgerald National College of Ireland. Blackrock
4 Francis Broderick University of Limerick. Garryowen
5 David Houston UU @ Jordanstown. City of Derry
6 Brian Moroney ITT Dublin. Terenure
7 Colin Finnerty Athlone Institute of Technology. Buccaneers
8 Stephen Corr UU @ Magee. City of Derry
16 Sam Duffy North West Institute, Derry. City of Derry
17 James Taggart UU @ Jordanstown. Ballymena
18 Philip O'Connor Limerick Institute of Technology. Old Crescent
19 Adrian Hanley Garda College. Buccaneers
20 Ben Clements UU @ Jordanstown. Ballymena
21 Jeff Hitchmough Cork Institute of Technology. Midleton
22 Stephen Carey Limerick Institute of Technology. Young Munster