A late try from Harry De Stacpoole, converted by Daragh Frawley, saw the UL Bohemians Under-20s come from behind to beat Blackrock College 16-13 in Saturday’s All-Ireland U-20 decider in Tullamore and lift the Frazer McMullen trophy for the second successive year.
Harry De Stacpoole, who touched down twice in the semi-final win over UCD, was the man of the moment again as he crossed with three minutes remaining to push UL Bohemians into the lead for the first time.
Goal-kicking second row Daragh Frawley stepped forward to add the extras, moving the Limerick youngsters into a 16-13 lead they would not relinquish.
Blackrock College had made the early running in this Tullamore decider. Winger Rob Johnson kicked two first half penalty goals to give the Dublin side a 6-0 lead at the turnaround.
Frawley’s boot got the defending champions back in touch and Bohs showed great resilience as they bounced back from conceding a Paget McCormack try which Johnson converted for 13-3.
Delighted with the UL Bohs fightback, the club’s director of rugby Ian Costello said: “Winning back-to-back Under-20 titles is of huge important to UL Bohs and underlines the success of the club’s Academy structure.
“There is a huge focus in the club on recruiting and developing young players and Saturday’s result, coupled with the success of the senior and junior sides, shows that we are reaping the rewards from that.
“Winning the trophy two years in-a-row provides the club with an extremely talented pool of players that will bring a winning tradition with them into the senior squad.
“The forwards to single out from the final would be prop David Kilcoyne, hooker Eddie Rossiter and flanker Noel Kinane.
“Cathal Sheridan, at scrum half, was the stand-out back and he doubled up to play in the Munster Junior Cup final on Monday.
“It’s the same coaching staff from last year, Noel Davis is the head coach and Gary Flanagan and Liam O’Connell the assistant coaches. the squad is managed by Mike Nix.
“There are eight players from the starting line-up that will be eligible for the Under-20 grade again next year and five of the replacements, so it is a very young squad. Of the starting fifteen, six of them have played AIB League rugby this season.”
Reflecting on the game and his side’s overall campaign, Blackrock director of rugby Michael Hearty said: “In fairness to UL they finished the stronger, but we weren’t helped by the sin binning of our number 7 Carl Waters. Their try followed two minutes after that.
“The season as a whole started quite slowly for us, we lost to UCD twice and Old Belvedere but bounced back to win eight games on the trot.”
Hearty reckons that ‘Rock will be back challenging for All-Ireland hours again next season.
“Huge credit has to go to Greg McWilliams and Shane McClafferty, the coaches, and also to our captain Conor Crowley who hasn’t missed a game for us in two years.
“About half of this year’s Under-20 squad are back next season, so we will obviously look to build on this year’s efforts.”