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UCD Retain Fraser McMullen Cup

UCD Retain Fraser McMullen Cup

A powerful first half performance enabled UCD to retain the Fraser McMullen Cup against a resilient Old Belvedere side with a 17-11 win in Terenure on Easter Monday.

The scoreline may suggest a close and engaging contest, but in the end victory went to the most dominant and organised side. UCD adopted a more fluent and expansive approach to the game and closed out their scoring opportunities effectively.

Whether it was the efficient excellence of Alan O’Connor or Mark McGroarty in the UCD forwards or the powerful running that winger Paddy Dix, who played flanker in last year’s final, advertised down both the Belvedere flanks, ’College had many reasons to be satisfied with this display.

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Jamie Glynn was another classy performer, who weighed in with a clever second half try at a stage when the contest needed a source of inspiration after a dour opening 20 minutes to the second period.

In fact the winners were so dominant at times it was easy to forget they were playing a large portion of the game with 14 men – they had three players in the sin-bin at different stages of the game.

For all Old Belvedere’s imagination behind the scrum, they failed to spread the ball wide where they boasted arguably the quickest player on the pitch in Mark Corballis.

At out-half, Ireland Under-19 international Steve Crosbie pulled the strings but could not engineer a breakthrough for his team with the enthusiastic O’Connor, McGroarty and Eoin Joyce always a constant threat to ’Belvo.

Scoring chances were thin on the ground during a one-sided opening 35 minutes.

Aided by a strong wind, UCD went in front after 15 minutes when Liam Bourke atoned for an earlier miss by converting a penalty from 30 metres. From that point UCD continued to dominate proceedings and put together the most incisive phase of the half in the 21st minute.

McGroarty did Trojan work to gain possession on the halfway line and popped it to livewire out-half Bourke. In a swift three-man move from left to right involving Quirke, Stephen Murphy and David Quirke, UCD crossed the line for the opening try.

Murphy’s pass was so magically weighed that it allowed Jordan Coghlan to break inside the ‘Belvo cover and touch down unopposed from 20 metres out. Bourke converted to make it 10-0.

The duel between UCD’s McGroarty and ‘Belvo’s Jack Conan was one of the highlights of the game. The two opposing back rows’ command for their own sector speaks volumes for their respective teams – both willing to put their body on the line to recover possession.

When ‘Belvo collected possession, their rugby was constructive but they lacked confidence in closing out scoring opportunities.

Squandered possession and poor ball retention cost them at times, but they continued to push forward and for all their effort they reduced the scoreline through a Gearoid MacDonald penalty after 33 minutes and thus came into the game in the final five minutes of the first half.

There was a visible drop in the intensity of the game in the second period with both sides driving forward in an effort to dictate proceedings.

It was a dour opening, and took until the 63rd minute for a score to be registered with McDonald posting his second penalty for ‘Belvo.

It did not take long for UCD to signal their intent and five minutes later they extended their lead. After a sporadic phase of play, the intelligent Glynn picked off the back of the scrum, 20 metres out, to slalom in under the posts. Bourke converted to make it 17-6.

Remarkably, back came Belvedere and the onrushing Donal Murray sprinted in to collect Crosbie’s well measured pass and touch down under the posts.

This set up a frenetic final five minutes but a huge defensive effort by the industrious UCD pack ensured victory went to the side that most deserved it.

UCD: Conal Doherty; Paddy Dix, David Quirke, Stephen Murphy, Barry Daly; Liam Bourke, Jamie Glynn; Gordon Frayne, Adam Clarkin, Rory Harrison, Alan O’Connor, Emmet McMahon, Jordan Coghlan, Mark McGroarty, Eoin Joyce.

OLD BELVEDERE: Gearoid McDonald; Mark Corballis, Donal Murray, James Kearns, Simon Killeen; Steve Crosbie, Aaron Sheehan; Adam Howard, Cillian MacDonald, Jake Cawley, Colin Mallon, Conor Owende, Diarmuid Kennedy, Michael Oyuga, Jack Conan.