Fitzpatrick try earns victory as Gonzaga defy the odds in high drama
GONZAGA COLLEGE 11
CBS MONKSTOWN 10
VINNIE MURRAY CUP FINAL
GONZAGA staged a remarkable second-half comeback to claim the Vinnie Murray Cup for the second time in three years.
Things looked bleak for them when they had a player sent off midway through the second half, substitute Cillian McDowell receiving a straight red card within a minute of coming on following a late tackle on Richard Lenehan.
At this point, they were trailing 10-3 and had hooker Chris Coburn in the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle after a break in the scrum.
Having ventured into Monkstown territory only twice in the first half, Gonzaga's numerical handicap seemed to shake them into life and suddenly the boys in green were doing all the attacking.
This finally began to pay off and, after a series of phases, inside-centre Stephen Murray scored a drop-goal to put them within four points of Monkstown.
That set up a thrilling finish and Jack Fitzpatrick went over for a late try to secure victory for Gonzaga and leave the previously boisterous Monkstown supporters dumbstruck.
While Monkstown may have controlled possession in the opening half, it would have amounted to little but for the brilliance of out-half and captain Aaron Sheehan, who kicked a penalty and a conversion of his own try on the stroke of half-time to leave his team seven points clear at the break.
Monkstown had threatened to go over a few times before that, but the Gonzaga defensive line held firm until, after a long bout of probing underneath the opposition posts, Sheehan spotted a gap and managed to jink his way through.
Gonzaga -- J Fitzpatrick (J McDowall 70); R Lenehan, D Divney, S Murphy, S Murphy; M McPhillips, H Byrene; C Murray, C Coburn, K Hargaden, C O'Leary, H Mays, P Lavelle (C McDowell 47), M McGroarty, D Seaver.
CBS Monkstown -- D O'Brien; E Fitzpatrick (C Jordan 48), R Hallam, J Kearns, S Woods; A Sheehan, M Rogers; R Banahan, K O'Neill, A Howard, E Keogh; A Ryan (J Kane 69), R Keogh, D O'Toole, P Crown.
Ref -- A Lynch.