'Dodgy' Dunne conversion decisive
ST MARY'S COLLEGE 24
OLD BELVEDERE 23
There was a sense of a mutual appreciation society about the grace shown by St Mary's coach Peter Smyth and his Old Belvedere counterpart Phil Werahiko at the conclusion of a hum-dinger of a semi-final at Templeville Road on Saturday.
The losers had reason to feel aggrieved at the award of a conversion by Gavin Dunne of Mark Sexton's 58th-minute try. And Smyth was quick to acknowledge that it looked like a lucky break for Mary's. "From where I was standing I thought it was wide. We will have a look at it later. I can see how they could feel aggrieved. If we were in their situation, we would feel the same way. Luckily, the break fell for us this time," he said.
Another crucial factor was the early retirement of Old Belvedere captain Andrew Dunne with a leg injury.
It wiped away their goal-kicker, captain and playmaker in one cruel twist.
"I know Andy from my days at Leinster," said Smyth. "While you don't like to see anyone going off, I said: 'Right, here is our chance now.' Then they rattled off 13 points in about seven minutes. It obviously galvanised them."
St Mary's had looked likely to advance on the back of their 9-3 lead at the break.
But the Black and Whites rattled off 13 points in seven minutes to take control through the kicking of emergency fly-half Conal Keane and a try by lock Richie Leyden in the 47th minute.
St Mary's then hit back through Sexton's try, full-back Dunne's dodgy conversion and then his superbly drilled drop goal.
In response, Belvo' scrum-half Chris Keane duped replacement Stephen Bradshaw around the side of a ruck for what could have been the winner only for centre Stephen Grissing to snipe down the blindside in the 77th minute.
St Mary's College -- G Dunne; R Doherty, S Grissing, M Sexton (C Donohoe 37), D Fanning; S McCarthy, C McPhillips; J McGrath, Richard Sweeney (G Hickie 78), Robert Sweeney; G Logan (S Bradshaw 49), R Copeland; D Hall (B O'Flanagan73), P Nash, H Hogan (capt).
Old Belvedere -- E Devitt (K Hurrell 61); D Keane, J Kennedy, Conal Keane, D Mongan; A Dunne (capt) (K Bardon 37), Chris Keane; V Soden, M Cooney (T Sexton 66), S Maguire; R Leyden, P Spivey (A Trenier 67); J Slattery, J Risdon, L Auva'a.
Ref -- P Fitzgibbon (IRFU).