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Navan And Lansdowne U-20s Set For McMullen Cup Showdown

Navan And Lansdowne U-20s Set For McMullen Cup Showdown

This Sunday’s Fraser McMullen All-Ireland Under-20 Cup final will have a novel pairing as first-time finalists Navan put it up to Lansdowne who are looking to add to the club’s 2013 and 2015 title wins.


LANSDOWNE UNDER-20s v NAVAN UNDER-20s, Templeville Road, St. Mary’s College RFC, 2.30pm

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Pat Kenny’s Navan side claimed the scalp of Dublin University at Balreask Old last weekend, winning an enthralling semi-final 42-34 with influential hooker Cathal Duff crossing for two of their three tries during a blistering first 15 minutes.

However, two Navan sin-binnings in quick succession saw Trinity take full advantage as they notched two tries, including a penalty try, to reduce the arrears to 22-17 by half-time.

Once restored to their full complement, the Meath youngsters seized control again as Christian Byrne converted his own try and then Duff, who has played Ulster Bank League rugby this season, and Keelan McKeever were involved in the build-up to an opportunist Paddy Fox score. The students were now 34-17 behind, 13 minutes into the second half.

Although a Trinity back-line that included Ireland Under-20 ace Colm Hogan caused Navan problems with their skill and speed, the visitors were unable to overhaul Navan despite scoring two more converted tries.

Replacement Shane Walsh touched down to give Navan some breathing space at 39-31 and their historic passage through to the Fraser McMullen Cup final was sealed by a late penalty from Byrne.

Niall Walsh, one of the Navan U-20 coaches, told the Meath Chronicle: “That was probably our best display of the season so far. We played Trinity twice in the league, losing narrowly to them on both occasions. We knew we really had to front up today and the boys did that absolutely, 1 to 22, the full squad were absolutely super today.

“We had to dig deep, we conceded two tries while we were down to 13 men, it was very hard. But the boys dug deep and once we got back to 15 again, it was full throttle ahead again.

“The talent in that team is unreal. For Navan to be up at this level is unheard of really. Up against established senior clubs, major clubs throughout the country, and we’re there, probably punching well above our weight, but the lads have been a talented bunch for so long. We were just hoping they start fulfilling their potential and they have done that today in spades.”

Lansdowne will be their opponents in the final, the headquarters club having seen off the challenge of UCD at the semi-final stage. They beat the students 24-12 last Sunday, with Tom O’Callaghan touching down after kicking through from a charge-down and Lee Molloy adding a second half try under the posts.

Peter Hastie, one of a number of promising players coming through, also had a key influence as a place-kicker. Coached by Declan Fassbender and Ben Armstrong with Ed Lyons as the club’s director of U-20 rugby, Lansdowne embarked on an unbeaten 14-match campaign to win the JP Fanagan Premier 1 crown in superb fashion this year.

They defeated Navan 26-10 (away) and 53-23 (home) in the league, but the Meath outfit, who were fourth in the final table, will relish the sides’ third meeting with the much-coveted All-Ireland U-20 silverware on the line.

2016/17 Fraser McMullen Cup Results


2011 – Lansdowne 27 UCD 28, Coolmine RFC
2012 – UCD 17 Old Belvedere 11, Lakelands Park
2013 – Dublin University 26 Lansdowne 27, Merrion Road
2014 – Cork Constitution 12 Terenure College 7, Clonmel RFC
2015 – Dublin University 15 Lansdowne 16, Anglesea Road
2016 – Cork Constitution 38 UCD 14, Portlaoise RFC