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Bruff Blast Back To Earn Final Spot

Bruff Blast Back To Earn Final Spot

Bruff qualified for the Bateman All-Ireland Cup final with a dramatic victory over UCD at Kilballyowen Park, storming home thanks to two tries in the final quarter.

Ultimately, it was Tony Cahill's conversion of the final try from John Shine which decided this end-to-end semi-final encounter.

The Bruff out-half's kick was cheered to the hilt by the big home crowd, and the final whistle from referee Jonathan Peak was music to their ears.

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It was another epic comeback from the Limerick club whose reputation is growing with each passing year.

After annexing their first Munster Senior Cup earlier this month, player-coaches Eoin Cahill and Peter Malone and their talented squad now have an All-Ireland final to look forward to in April.

UCD, who play a division below Bruff, looked probable winners when they led 22-7 after 55 minutes. The College side built a 10-7 buffer for half-time, having recovered from the concession of an early penalty try.

That was awarded in the 14th minute when UCD broke the scrum bind as the Bruff pack drove over the line, and Brian Cahill's successful conversion made it 7-0 to Bruff.

But a penalty from UCD out-half James Thornton, and a terrific seven-pointer from their captain Andy Cummiskey, edged the students ahead.

Cummiskey crossed in the right corner after UCD's lightning quick back-line took advantage of a couple of missed tackles, with John Conroy and Michael Twomey involved in the build-up.

Thornton missed a penalty attempt, late in the half, and Bruff had their player-coach and number 8 Malone sin-binned for killing the ball on the stroke of half-time.

UCD's director of rugby John McClean and Bobby Byrne-led coaching team must have been delighted with the visitors' efforts in the third quarter.

Tries from centre David McSharry (48 minutes) and full-back Twomey (55), with Thornton converting the first of them, made it 22-7 to the visitors.

Some neat interplay, following Rob Shanley's blindside break, set up McSharry's score as UCD punished 14-man Bruff, and the travelling support increased the decibel level after Twomey's try.

But there were further twists ahead. Tony Cahill, who took over the place-kicking duties from his injured brother Brian, missed a penalty before UCD were rocked back on their heels.

Bruff's streetwise forwards began to gain ground and some punishing scrums and mauls sapped UCD's strength. The hosts managed to drive over the line twice for flanker Shine to touch down.

Cahill also added a 70th minute penalty during this purple patch which saw the Limerick side play with renewed vigour. Their mauling was particularly effective, putting the students under huge defensive pressure.

Shine's second pushover score, in the 80th minute, levelled the game at 22-all, with the flanker dotting down after breaking away from a maul. It took 15 phases of possession – UCD's defence was heroic at times – but it was well worth the wait for the Bruff players, management and supporters.

From close to the posts, Cahill drove over the last conversion. Nerves jangled during a tense period of injury-time, before Cahill kicked to touch and Bruff could celebrate a simply stunning comeback win.

They now await the winners of the other semi-final between Dungannon and Corinthians, which was postponed yesterday due to a frozen pitch.

Referee: Jonathan Peak (IRFU)