Newbridge heartbreak as Gilsenan seals St Michael's comeback
St Michael's 27
Junior Cup Semi-Final
St Michael's qualified for a remarkable fifth successive final in dramatic fashion courtesy of a last-minute Matthew Gilsenan try in another exhilarating game at Donnybrook yesterday.
Newbridge will be kicking themselves though, as the talented league winners led 23-8 --after Chris Healy's second penalty -- with just 12 minutes left.
Up to then, all went according to plan, with full-back Healy starting the scoring with a neatly struck penalty 14 minutes in. A break by Jake Howlett five minutes later saw No 8 Tom Brady racing clear for the opening try.
Michael's came close to scoring twice soon after, before Mark Sutton, Healy and Niall Delahunt combined to lift the siege.
Then following a surge from skipper Hugh O'Donnell, Sutton threw the most beautifully weighted long pass for Healy on an arc, to cross for try number two. Healy converted for a 15-point lead.
Gilsenan managed a penalty to narrow it to 15-3 going in to the break. But within minutes of the restart, a flowing move involving Sutton, Howlett -- with a deft offload -- Paddy Kyne and Healy resulted in the hard-working Joe D'Arcy crossing at the corner.
But inspired by Cathal McGettigan, Adam Leavy and Oisin O'Meara, St Michael's fought back.
Skipper Charlie Cregan crossed for the first try of four to Michael's in the final quarter. With nine minutes left, Newbridge conceded a soft try from a quickly taken penalty by Harry Redmond, who barrelled over with plenty of support next to the posts. Gilsenan added the extras and it was 23-15.
Six minutes later, a blistering run by Karl Victory provided the spark for Max Deegan to cross and reduce the lead to three.
In the final nail-biting moments, deep into injury-time, and with the last play of the game Michael's made the decision to go for broke rather than attempt a kick at goal to salvage a draw.
They battered the Newbridge line before out-half Gilsenan weaved his way in to complete the most incredible comeback. He added the conversion on John Montayne's final whistle as the agony and ecstasy kicked in for the winners and losers.
St Michael's -- G Duffy; K Victory, A Leavy, O O'Meara, W Butler; M Gilsenan, S Smith; O Joyce (J Bollard 35), J O'Connell, H Redmond (L Bradbury 67); C Cregan (capt), J Ryan; A Penny, C McGettigan, M Deegan.
Newbridge -- C Healy; J D'Arcy, P Kyne, J Howlett, N Delahunt (N Fleming 67); M Sutton, B Finan; J Phelan (J Deane 56), C Doyle (C Conlon 43), H O'Donnell (capt, R Drumguille-Maguire 67); T Treacy, S Tracey (M Stapleton 35); C Nugent, M O'Connor, T Brady.
Ref -- J Montayne ( Leinster Rugby Referees).