Jump to main content


Dublin University’s Firepower To The Fore In Fraser McMullen Cup Success

Dublin University’s Firepower To The Fore In Fraser McMullen Cup Success

The Dublin University Under-20s proved unstoppable in last Sunday’s Fraser McMullen Cup final against Clontarf at Merrion Road, reeling off seven tries to walk away with Trinity’s first All-Ireland U-20 title since 2005.

Trinity have experienced plenty of heartbreak in the U-20 national competition over the years, narrowly losing finals to Shannon in 2006 (15-14) and Lansdowne in 2013 (28-27) and 2015 (17-16). So, this title success was a long time coming for the students, who had a hat-trick hero in winger Darragh Porter.

Google Ad Manager – 300×250 – In Article

Porter bagged an early brace of tries and influential hooker Dan Sheehan also supplied the finishing touches to a brilliant team try, as the college side – coached by Gareth Pickering and Keith Murphy – opened up a 17-3 lead. Yet, the second and third of Conor Kelly's first half penalties saw Clontarf bounce into half-time just eight points down.

Trinity wrestled back control with a trio of unanswered tries from Rob Russell, Porter and Reuben Pim, up to the 67-minute mark, to put the result beyond doubt at 34-9. 'Tarf battled on and deservedly finished with two tries, scored by front rowers Darragh Bolger and Declan Adamson, but Johnny McKeown sandwiched in a seventh for the students to give them a resounding victory.

The game at Wanderers FC began under a heavy rainstorm, Trinity quickly getting into their rhythm while playing into a stiff breeze. Their goal-kicking centre James Moriarty missed a penalty attempt before full-back Russell just lost control of the ball in the act of scoring, following a pacy attack that was initiated by a great rumble forward from Sheehan.

Russell provided the final pass for the opening try soon after, Clontarf defending tenaciously in their 22 and almost forcing a relieving penalty before the Dublin University backs moved the ball wide for Porter to squeeze over in the left corner for an early 5-0 lead.

10 points was the difference after Porter showed impressive feet and strength to make it over to the left of the posts. Trinity had gotten on a roll from lineout possession on halfway with Ireland Under-20 lock Jack Dunne making a big bust, and out-half Michael O'Kennedy's soft hands under pressure from Cormac Daly set up Porter for another well-taken score.

Clontarf exerted some pressure from the restart, winger Seni Reilly getting his first chance to stretch his legs in attack and Kelly knocked over a central penalty to open their account. Adamson and Adam Fleming were competing ferociously at the breakdown, but Trinity were lightning quick at turning possession into points.

After a missed penalty to touch from the north Dubliners, the students carried back up towards halfway before 'Tarf were caught for numbers on the left. Trinity captain James Hickey flew through a gap with a neat show-and-go, linking with supporting number 8 Patrick Nulty who stepped off his left to beat full-back Conor Dunne and then offload out of a tackle for Sheehan to cover the final metres to the line.

Moriarty converted this time and although Kelly miscued an opportunity to respond for 'Tarf, they enjoyed their best territory of the first half with Cian Walsh having a cut off the back of a five-metre scrum. Trinity held out near their line and also on the far left wing, but Kelly was on target with a subsequent penalty to give his side some reward.

The left-footed Kelly then got as much as he got out of a penalty kick to touch, quickly driving Clontarf back into the Trinity 22 and with the defence leaking another penalty within scoring range, the Portlaoise youngster took his and 'Tarf's tally to nine points, three minutes before the break.

The rain returned for the start of the second period and Trinity were quickest out of the blocks again. Nulty, who was terrific throughout, hurtled onto a flat O'Kennedy pass to break the line and weave up into the 'Tarf 22. Ireland U-20 international Michael Silvester trailed him and edged the students closer before Tomas Killeen passed wide for Russell to hand off Mark O'Sullivan and dive over in the right corner.

Moriarty brilliantly judged the conversion from out wide, making it 24-9, and despite centres Conor Jennings and Sean O'Brien increasing their attacking threat, Clontarf tellingly had nothing to show for a prolonged attacking spell in the Trinity 22.

20 points was the margin following another smashing Trinity score from deep. Nulty's rip in the tackle launched the counter, Sheehan spearing through over halfway and scrum half Killeen was the link man as he released lively replacement Silvester to drive up to five metres out. Killeen moved ruck ball to the left where Hickey's equally well-directed pass sent Porter raiding over for his third try of the afternoon.

Russell's subsequent pass was slightly behind Silvester as Trinity kept pressing for scores, yet Dunne stole the resulting lineout and the 'Tarf defence was drawn in towards their own posts. The students duly swung play back to the right through Silvester who linked with fellow replacement Pim who dummied to pass, put the head down and crashed over. The wind blew Moriarty's conversion attempt off target.

At 34-9 down and time running out, 'Tarf lifted their spirits with a Jennings-led attack up the right and prop Bolger took a hard line onto a Peter Hoy pass to slip past two covering defenders and go in underneath the posts. However, Kelly's drop-kicked conversion was followed by a 'Tarf knock-on from the restart, and Trinity scored soon after, blindside McKeown shrugging off two defenders to touch down under the posts and cancel out Bolger's effort.

There was still time for a late consolation try for a gallant Clontarf team, who are coached by Brendan Fanning, Ciaran Kavanagh and Karl Curran. Repeated team infringements led to Trinity lock Arthur Greene seeing yellow for not rolling away, and from a second lineout maul opportunity five metres out, hooker Adamson piled over at the end of a determined drive.

Referee: Sean Gallagher (IRFU)