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Rugby: Comprehensive defeat won't diminish newpark adventure

The dream is over. Long live the dream. In a week when Declan Kidney and Brian O'Driscoll will emphasise the importance of building, improving and looking forward, the boys of Newpark Comprehensive can look back on a proud period in their rugby lives.

They have travelled through the pitfalls of the McMullen (Section A) Senior Cup, scalping St Fintan's High School, Sutton 19-0 on a dreadful afternoon at Whitechurch in the first round, and battling past Good Counsel, New Ross, 20-6 in the quarter-final to qualify for the Vinnie Murray (Section B) Cup.

Once there, they adopted an approach of no fear to clatter Wesley College 18-11, with the brothers Halpin, Michael and Fergus, their match-winners.

Then, out-half Michael Halpin supplied all the points in a 15-3 domination of former winners, De La Salle, Churchtown, in the quarter-final.

It brought the school, located on Newtownpark Avenue, Blackrock, into direct contact with traditional powerhouse St Mary's College down at Railway Union on Tuesday. There, the journey would finish on the end of eight tries, four from St Mary's captain Maurice Walsh, a Leinster Schools three-quarter with a low centre of gravity.


But there is life after death this time around as the vast majority of Newpark starters will return next year for another tilt at the windmill of glory.

There were also excellent performances from their captain Sean Reynolds, locks Raef Garland and Nils Sundermann and openside Zac Jungmann.

"We have 12 of the side back next year. We also have a tour to Chile and Argentina coming up during the summer," said Newpark coach Andrew Adams.

"This is the standard we have to aspire to. It is a great learning process for the boys. The target is to push on and keep improving. It is a great bunch of lads."

This was a case of one step too far in what was a genuine David-versus-Goliath tussle in which St Mary's, under the stewardship of former Ireland full-back Rodney O'Donnell, were never likely to underestimate their opponents.

"We gave St Mary's too much respect early on. We got a lesson, in particular in one-one-one situations. The guys wanted to do themselves justice.

"We said at half-time that we hadn't played to our potential. We asked them to go out and have a go in the second half. We knew we could hold onto the ball. We were able to do that for long periods after the break," added Adams.

St Mary's were ruthless in the first-half with Walsh at the centre of everything in attack. He executed his four finishes from a variety of distances, using power, pace and good positional sense to string together a quartet of tries.

Their back five forwards make a massive impact in terms of sheer size and power, with Liam Curran, Jerry Sexton, brother to Ireland's Jonathan and Mark Fallon capable of doing damage in close.

They move on to a quarter-final against Cistercian College, Roscrea.

St Mary's College: D O'Halloran; E Farrell, H Norton, M Walsh (capt), E Moriarty; C Hogan, D Fanagan; G Gallivan, D Drumm, S Kearney, J Sexton, L Curran, S Carroll, K Barnwell, M Fallon.

Replacements: A Martin for Fallon 43 mins; G Hennessy for Gallivan 51 mins; H McGovern for Farrell, C O'Reilly for Drumm, P Doran for Sexton all 54 mins; H McDonnell for Hogan, C Barden for Fanagan both 58 mins.

Newpark Comprehensive: S Crowe; O Duignan, E O'Connor, F Halpin, R Clarke, M Halpin, E Thornley; A Marshall, J Sheehan, S Reynolds (capt), R Garland, N Sundermann, J Wheatley, Z Jungmann, L Hanratty. Replacements: R Heffernan for Sheehan, H Connor for Hanratty both ht; D Burke for O'Connor, B Clarke for Wheatley 62 mins; F Howley for M Halpin 64 mins; P Collins for Thornley, N White for Duignan both 67 mins.

Referee: J Carvill (Leinster Branch).