Saturday 24 June 2017

Andreucetti try helps Mary's sidestep deja vu

St Mary's 7
Kilkenny Col 6
Leinster senior cup

Tony Ward

Tony Ward

Back in 2000, Kilkenny caused a major upset when sending highly fancied St Mary's crashing out at the quarter-final stage of that year's Leinster Senior Cup. And, for over half of another titanic tussle between the schools at Donnybrook yesterday, a repeat result was on the cards.

In the end, the Rathmines' school got there -- but only just. Indeed, had Kilkenny opted to take a straight-forward penalty in the 52nd minute, well within Peter Lydon's range, it would have made for an interesting final quarter. As it was, Mary's did just about enough to get there but it was close ... mighty close.

It was, in many ways, an extraordinary contest. Mary's dominated the line-out as well as having the upper hand in the scrum, yet it was Kilkenny's defensive physicality around the fringes -- allied to their cohesion in attacking the gain line effectively -- that made for a match where the outcome was always in doubt.

Mary's dominated the territorial battle in the opening period, yet on their two sorties into the opposition half, it was Kilkenny, by way of two magnificently struck penalties from Lydon in the 12th and 24th minutes, who were ahead at the break.

Despite full-back Brendan Daly threatening consistently on the counter, it was a clean incision by Hugh McDonnell that almost set Cian Delaney on a clear run to the posts -- only a brilliant tap tackle by Lydon keeping the Kilkenny line intact. It was to be as close as either side got to a try in an intensely contested opening half.

Thoughts on both sides were understandably drifting back to 2000. In that respect it was Mary's who restarted the more likely, putting a more meaningful width to their game. Just 10 minutes in they got their reward when another smashing break by McDonnell saw flanker Matthew Andreucetti in the perfect supporting position to crash over. McDonnell added the extras for the slenderest of leads and amazingly that's how it stayed to the end.

In the minutes following that match-determining try, Kilkenny, with Shane Delahunt, Max Bernard Day and Ross Deacon in the vanguard, pummelled the Mary's line.

They needed to come away with something, but when the opportunity to retake the lead beckoned they opted instead for the quick tap. But this Mary's fringe defence is made of the right stuff and with impressive scrum-half Cillian Barden running the show with conviction, they remained solid.

In the end they got there on the narrowest of margins.

A challenge of a different dimension in St Michael's now awaits, but as an early test of their cup credentials, they couldn't have asked for a more demanding challenge.

Kilkenny may have exited this year's competition, but they did so with heads held high.

St Mary's -- B Daly; E Farrell, B Matthews, C Delaney, P Dix; H McDonnell, C Barden; T Young (E Boyle 55), I Hickey, G Gallivan; T Barrett, I Robinson (R McPhilips 55); M Andreucetti, J Walsh, J Sexton (capt).

Kilkenny -- J Yates; B Rhys-Thomas, F Horan (yc 57), R Bailey-Kearney, S Sterling; P Lydon (E Kelly 70), D Leybourne; R Elmes, R Foot, S Delahunt; A Doyle (G Condell 30), M Bernard-Day; M Triggs (H Crowley 30), G Ridgeway, R Deacon.

Ref -- D Wallace (Leinster Branch)

Irish Independent

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