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UCD Dethrone Champions Lansdowne To Win Fraser McMullen Cup

UCD Dethrone Champions Lansdowne To Win Fraser McMullen Cup

UCD staved off Lansdowne's second half comeback to win the Fraser McMullen Cup final at Wanderers FC ©Michael O'Brien/Lansdowne FC

The power of the UCD pack helped them prevail in an exciting Fraser McMullen Cup final, as they beat last year’s winners Lansdowne, 33-26, to lift the trophy for the first time since 2012.


Saturday, April 13 –

UCD 33 LANSDOWNE 26, Wanderers FC, Merrion Road
Scorers: UCD: Tries: Tom O’Riordan, Ronan McGroary, Sean Egan, Conor Tonge, Charles Foley; Cons: Jeff Williams 4
Lansdowne: Tries: Jamie Maguire 2, Louis McGauran, Sam Nolan; Cons: Steve McMahon 2, Louis McGauran
HT: UCD 28 Lansdowne 0

In sunny but very windy conditions at Wanderers FC’s Merrion Road ground, Tom O’Riordan, Ronan McGroary, Sean Egan, and Conor Tonge scored UCD’s first half tries to give them a commanding 28-0 interval lead.

Rhys Ruddock’s Lansdowne team rallied with Jamie Maguire, who touched down twice from the left wing, Louis McGauran, and replacement Sam Nolan all crossing to reduce the arrears to seven points.

However, time was up after Nolan’s late breakaway effort, with UCD replacement Charles Foley’s opportunist 67th-minute try proving to be decisive in crowning this season’s All-Ireland Under-20 champions.

Lansdowne were bidding to retain the coveted Fraser McMullen Cup title, having come from behind to get the better of Dublin University (29-25) in last year’s final.

UCD’s most recent triumph in the competition was 12 years ago when their now-director of rugby and senior team head coach, Emmet MacMahon, was their U-20 captain. They came close in both 2016 and 2022, finishing as runners-up to Trinity and Cork Constitution respectively.

Starting on the front foot, UCD won an early penalty at scrum time and kicked to touch. Lineout possession was won and big number 8 Conall Hodges and Michael Colreavy edged them forward before the students were held up over the try-line.

With the wind having a big impact, Lansdowne’s goal-line dropout still had UCD playing where they wanted to. Their patient approach work was rewarded in the fourth minute when prop O’Riordan crashed over from close range, with Jeff Williams converting.

Luke Hickey’s charges did not have to wait long for their second seven-pointer. Off Lansdowne’s restart, UCD scrum half Luke McGill sent the ball back with interest. With the aid of the wind, he launched it high into the sky, causing havoc in the back-field.

A scrambling Steve McMahon, coupled with Dylan O’Keeffe’s right boot, rescued the situation for Lansdowne, but UCD remained in control, and their pack did all the heavy lifting again as they moved into a 14-0 lead.

Their maul marched to within 10 metres of the whitewash, and a series of close-in carries ended with former Newbridge College student McGroary squeezing over from a Tonge pass. Williams clipped over his second conversion of the day.

The UCD out-half had an opportunity to extend their advantage to 17 points after Egan had forced a scrum penalty. However, his effort at the posts from over 30 metres out went wide.

Lansdowne tried their best to grow into the contest, with captain O’Keeffe and full-back Mikey Wall showing glimpses of what they could do from open play. Frustratingly, the headquarters club were held scoreless despite building from two mauls inside the opposition 22.

When Lansdowne went wide, UCD’s defence stopped them in their tracks. Eoghan Walsh caught his opposite number Maguire with a crucial tackle, and Max Aschenbrenner also covered an instinctive kick through from Wall on the other wing.

UCD knew they needed to exert more scoreboard pressure given the wind in their favour, and they flexed their muscles in the forward exchanges to register two more converted tries.

Influential tighthead Egan, aided by Hodges’ latch, drove over in the 34th minute, following a tap penalty move which saw McGill spin a wider pass out to full-back Tom Murtagh. Williams was on target again with the tricky conversion from the left.

Penalties continued to prove costly for Lansdowne, with McGauran’s high tackle on Lucas Maguire allowing UCD to go to the corner and attack off their reliable lineout. Number 8 Tonge broke off a maul initially, and then popped up a few phases later to burst through a tackle and score.

Ross Molloy and Hugo Neville came off the Lansdowne bench for the start of the second half, and they were involved in the build-up to winger Maguire’s opening try inside just two minutes.

Coming out of the traps strongly, back rower McGauran led the charge with a break up into the UCD 22. Ruddock’s side used the width to good effect, following a ground-gaining Wall carry, and Neville’s looping skip pass put Maguire over in the left corner.

Steve McMahon’s superb touchline conversion gave Lansdowne a further boost. Working off more possession now, they looked to build the phases and run their way into attacking areas rather than use the kicking option.

Second row Tom Wyley collected a well-timed Molloy offload to charge into open territory and barge past Williams, reaching UCD’s 22. In response, the students showed their superiority in the scrums, winning two more penalties to move back downfield.

Heading into the final quarter, UCD were still in the driving seat with a 28-7 cushion. They avoided conceding again when the lively Nolan ran hard off a lineout to leave Lansdowne just a few metres out, until Wyley, stooping low for a difficult pass, knocked on.

Despite losing hooker Maguire to the sin bin for a high tackle on Lansdowne flanker Noah Maguire, UCD held firm. Molloy dangled a well-weighted kick over the top for Cian Eddy to chase, but Williams and Foley were able to shepherd the ball out.

In a key moment in the game, UCD rushed up in defence, forcing Lansdowne to pass loosely from a lineout in their own half. Neville attempted to kick the bouncing ball, but it broke for Foley to pounce and run in his try from the edge of the opposition 22.

Williams’ conversion bounced away off the left hand post, and with little over 10 minutes remaining, the result seemed beyond Lansdowne. Nonetheless, the JP Fanagan Premier 1 League runners-up did end the final in impressive fashion with a trio of late scores.

Off a scrum on halfway, Lansdowne’s backs linked up well to put the rapid Maguire away from 35 metres out. Barely three minutes later, McGauran, the one-man wrecking machine, took a straight line to storm in under the posts and drop-kick the conversion himself.

Trailing 33-21, Lansdowne kept the tempo high when running two more penalties, and Tom Bohan’s long pass released Nolan to evade the clutches of Foley for a 40-metre run-in. It was the last phase of play, though, as UCD clinched a deserved All-Ireland success.

UCD: Tom Murtagh; Max Aschenbrenner, Luka Hassett (capt), Charlie McNamee, Eoghan Walsh; Jeff Williams, Luke McGill; Tom O’Riordan, Lucas Maguire, Sean Egan, Jamie McLoughlin, Michael Colreavy, Conor Tonge, Ronan McGroary, Conall Hodges.

Replacements: Mark McHugh, Cian O’Brien, Max Duggan, Jack Molony, Oran Handley, Max Brophy, Alex Yarr, Charles Foley.

LANSDOWNE: Mikey Wall; Cian Eddy, Steve McMahon, Dylan O’Keeffe (capt), Jamie Maguire; Tom Bohan, Fiach Devitt; Oisin Lynch, Tim Cotter, Adam Deay, Luke O’Connor, Tom Wyley, Louis McGauran, Noah Maguire, Paul Wilson.

Replacements: Luke Long, George Morris, Dan Reddin, Sam Nolan, Cian Walsh, Ross Molloy, Andy Quinn, Hugo Neville.

Referee: Max Weston (IRFU)



Lansdowne 73 Old Crescent 5, Aviva Stadium back pitch
Shannon 10 UCD 35, Thomond Park back pitch
UCC 23 Dublin University 24, the Mardyke
Old Belvedere bye


Dublin University 32 Lansdowne 36, College Park
Old Belvedere 17 UCD 36, Ollie Campbell Park


UCD 33 Lansdowne 26, Wanderers FC, Merrion Road