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Lilly's superb effort puts Mary's on path to cup glory

LATE first-half tries from Chris Lilly and Ryan O'Loughlin proved decisive at Donnybrook Stadium, as St Mary's College held off a strong second-period showing from Lansdowne to be crowned Metropolitan Cup champions.

St Mary's opened the scoring through a 30-metre penalty by reliable full-back Ray Crotty, and even though Lansdowne eventually settled thanks to a similar effort from out-half Andrew Geraghty, a further brace of successful place kicks from Crotty edged the Templeville Road outfit into a six-point cushion by the 26th minute.

Lansdowne finally broke the Mary's resistance just past the half-hour mark when scrum-half Conor Crowley crossed over for a converted try, but St Mary's quickly regained their lead with an outstanding individual five-pointer from left-wing Lilly. When No 9 Joey Burns brilliantly set up centre O'Loughlin for his side's third try just before the break, the prospect of St Mary's adding to their J1 League triumph greatly increased.

Cushion

Crotty converted both of these efforts to give the Templeogue men a 23-10 cushion upon the resumption, but a determined Lansdowne managed to reduce the deficit on 59 minutes courtesy of Geraghty's second penalty of the contest.

Just before this strike, the lively Stuart McCarron was desperately close to reaching over on the right-wing, but he eventually got the score that his fine efforts deserved when he grounded to the right of the posts after a sustained period of pressure towards the St Mary's line with 10 minutes remaining.

This narrowed their opponents' lead to five, but despite enduring some nervy moments in the closing stages, St Mary's were able to hold out for a hard-earned success in a tight finish.

ST MARY'S COLLEGE – R Crotty; I O'Neill, R O'Loughlin, R McMickem (T O'Reilly 34), C Lilly; H MacDonnell, J Burns; N Murphy (R Glynn 34-72), R O'Donovan, S Preston (Z Ali 21), G Logan (P Starrett 19), R Lennon, M Fallon, M Darby (H Hogan 52), M Donnellan.

LANSDOWNE – E Torrie (J Shanahan 68); S McCarron (J Shanahan 40-42, T Conbret 74-78), F Doherty, S Kelly (T Conbret 40 (W Walsh 68), C Toolin; A Geraghty, C Crowley; R Liddington, C Kilcoyne, I Prendiville, M Feeley, C O'Donnell, A Hoban, T Coneely, A Matthews.

REF – J Montayne (LRR)

Irish Independent