NUIG the college queens once more to make it three in a row
Trinity pip UCD to seal Conroy Cup hat-trick – and avenge old rivals’ Maughan-Scally triumph
The Irish Universities Rugby Union (IURU) hosted its second annual Festival of Rugby on Saturday, October 24 in Terenure RFC in association with the Maxol Group and Quilter Cheviot Investment Management.
Alarm clocks were heard ringing at 6.0 across Cork, Galway, Limerick and Belfast to ensure the teams made it to Terenure for the early kick-offs.
First up were the Kay Bowen and Maughan-Scally competitions for the ladies and junior rugby. NUIG had won both cups last year and were hopeful of bringing them west again this year. Both NUIG sides faced DUFC (Trinity) in their opening exchanges but had contrasting fortunes.
The ladies swept aside the Dublin side 24-0 in a dominant display. This impressive performance was matched by the 12-0 victory that followed against UCC, in a repeat of last year's final.
In the Maughan-Scally, DUFC edged out a victory in a tense match and followed the win by beating UCC to top the group.
On the other side of the draw, UCD were dominating all before them in both competitions.
The first final of the day saw NUIG, going for three titles in row, up against an improving UCD. However after a competitive first half, NUIG's strength in depth proved to be the difference as Elizabeth McKeever's girls won out 48-5.
NUIG have only conceded two tries in winning the trophy for the last three years.
This was followed by the Maughan-Scally final which pitted the old foes DUFC (Trinity) and UCD against each other. The game swung from end to end but was decided by a moment of brilliance by club stalwart Geoff Sheehan, who broke three tackles to set up the decisive try.
This was UCD's junior club's first cup in 11 years and was celebrated accordingly, making up for the heartache of near misses - none more so than last year's defeat to NUIG.
The shift to the Conroy Cup and Dudley Cup started after lunch. The Dudley Cup was played as a round robin between DUFC, Queen's University and UCC.
Tony Smeeth and Hugh Maguire's DUFC team produced two controlled displays built on their dominant pack to clinch the Dudley cup for the first time in 21 years.
One of the biggest cheers of the evening was heard as Nick McCarthy lifted the cup for the first time since 1994.
In the Conroy Cup, Trinity and UCD were expected to take control of their respective groups and neither side disappointed. DUFC took care of Queen's and UCC, with UCD doing the same to Maynooth and DUFC seconds on the other.
All was set for the second showdown between the two Dublin rivals in the last game of the festival.
UCD have been beaten finalists to Trinity twice in recent years and were looking to put a marker down against the city centre rivals in the first competition of the season.
With a strong wind behind them DUFC dominated the first half but it was UCD who scored the first try of the game right on half-time to take a slender lead into the break.
In a more even second half which saw opportunities for both sides, DUFC managed to convert an opportunity and claim the cup for the third year in a row.
Pressure will be on Keith Murphy to continue this winning start to his U-20s coaching career after rejoining the club in the summer.
On a highly successful day for university rugby, special thanks must be passed to Paul Hennebry and Ian Morgan of Terenure, the IRFU, The Maxol Group and Quilter Cheviot Investment Management for their support.