QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY 17 NENAGH ORMOND 16, Anglesea Road
Scorers: Queen's University: Tries: Michael Pyper, Mark Sampson, Chris Quinn; Con: Ian Porter
Nenagh Ormond: Try: David Walsh; Con: David Delaney; Pen: David Delaney 3
Queen's University were quickly into their stride, moving the ball fluently across their three-quarter line. Initially, Nenagh Ormond's only course of action was to force mistakes and then build from there.
Slowly, they made territory their friend, the forwards charging hard and out-half David Delaney's right boot nursing them forward.
This solid approach of the Tipperary club, appearing in their first senior final, was beginning to have an effect until a Delaney pass was picked off by Queen's out-half Michael Pyper for an intercept try from fully 60 metres out. That 17th minute try went unconverted.
The concession did not seem to duly upset Nenagh. They returned to front-foot rugby, spreading their attack slightly to draw a penalty and sound drop goal situations which Delaney could not convert. However, he was on target in the 26th minute from 35 metres.
Queen's were exposed when another Delaney penalty from the left fell short and was not claimed by the defending side. As the ball bounced, lock David Walsh closed in on the lax defence to ground the ball. Delaney converted to make it 10-5 in the 28th minute.
Then, referee Alan Rogan sin-binned Nenagh wing Ger Harmse for obstructing a player off the ball. It was all the invitation Queen's needed to set up camp in the danger zone, only for their lineout to let them down more than once.
The laissez-faire attitude of Queen's would not have found favour with their head coach, former Ireland number 8 Brian Robinson, at the interval. It should have refocused their minds.
Nenagh, armed with a five-point half-time lead, were comfortable with the pace and intensity of the game until a number of phases ended with Queen's prop Mark Sampson flopping over for scrum half Ian Porter to add the extras, making it 12-10 in the 53rd minute.
However, Nenagh centre James Kingston latched onto a wayward pass from Pyper to almost make the line, full-back David McIlwaine hauling him down with five metres to go before replacement Michael Ferguson stepped offside. Delaney did not miss from close range on the hour mark.
As Nenagh increased the tempo, full-back Steve Harvey's quick counter was improved by winger Colm McMahon's deflected kick deep into the Queen's 22. The ensuing lineout was floored illegally for man-of-the-match Delaney to strike again on the angle in the 62nd minute.
An off-the-ball incident earned Queen's flanker Paddy McGowan a yellow card as their indiscipline and inexperience began to eat into their confidence, despite the introduction of Ireland Under-20 out-half James McKinney.
There was still time for a period of incessant pressure from Queen's. They were turned back time and again by the bravest of defence until winger Chris Quinn was left to steal in unopposed for what was the match-winning score in the 79th minute.
The conversion was missed and at 17-16 down, there was still time for a brave Nenagh side to engineer a drop goal opportunity for Delaney. Replacement Mike Fogarty made a break to set up that injury-time chance, but the former Shannon number 10 missed it and Queen's held on for the narrowest of wins.
It capped off a fine season for the Belfast students, with director of rugby Robbie Moore guiding them to the Ulster Senior Cup and AIB League Division 3 titles, along with promotion to AIB League Division 2 for next season.
On another day, Nenagh may well have held on to that 16-12 lead as Queen's threw everything at them in their 22. But the Tipp men, roared on by a large travelling support, deserve great credit for taking the team to new heights and this experience will serve them well in the coming years.
QUEEN'S UNIVERSITY: David McIlwaine; Chris Quinn, Michael Hooks, James Reekie, Matthew Arneill; Michael Pyper, Ian Porter; Paul Karayiannis, Gareth Megaw, Mark Sampson, Tom Patton, Andrew Linton, Gareth Hooks, Mark Robinson (capt), Paddy McGowan.
Replacements used: Michael Ferguson for Patton (17 mins), Jonny Shiels for Reekie (54), James McKinney for Hooks, Michael Boyd for Megaw (both 64), Connor O'Neill for McGowan (65), Robert Whitten for Arneill (67).
NENAGH ORMOND: Steve Harvey; Ger Harmse, James Kingston, Trevor Connolly (capt), Colm McMahon; David Delaney, David Corcoran; Conor Brislane, Damien Dunne, Fergal Brislane, David Walsh, Darren Gallagher, Shane O'Callaghan, Brian Williams, Keith Quigley.
Replacements used: Jamie Quigley for Walsh (47 mins), Mike Fogarty for Harmse (56), Mike Slattery for O'Callaghan (69).
Referee: Alan Rogan (IRFU)