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Newbridge dream of first title in 50 years as O'Sullivan seals the deal

Newbridge College 25 St Michael's College 22, Leinster Senior Cup semi-final

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Newbridge players, from left, David O’Sullivan, Lucas Berti-Newman and Sam Prendergast celebrate after upsetting the odds in their Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final against St Michael’s. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Newbridge players, from left, David O’Sullivan, Lucas Berti-Newman and Sam Prendergast celebrate after upsetting the odds in their Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final against St Michael’s. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

SPORTSFILE

Newbridge players, from left, David O’Sullivan, Lucas Berti-Newman and Sam Prendergast celebrate after upsetting the odds in their Leinster Schools Senior Cup semi-final against St Michael’s. Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Newbridge caused one of the biggest shocks in the history of the Leinster Senior Cup to make it an all-Kildare final at Energia Park.

They did it the hard way, going down 14 points in as many minutes before blasting back to move a step closer to bridging the 50-year gap to their last title.

They will face Clongowes in the St Patrick's Day decider as they bid to emulate the side that last won in 1970, which was led by Ireland out-half Mick Quinn and Paul Bowe, Tommy's father.

Yesterday, they were settling to their task until Henry McErlean got into Sam Prendergast's passing channel to travel home from 60 metres, Chris Cosgrave converting in the fourth minute. From the restart, Mark Dennis mistimed a challenge, taking Cosgrave out in the air, to see yellow.

Hooker Lee Barron piled in for the second, Cosgrave sweeping over the conversion in the 14th minute.

The 'Bridge had to work hard to make ground with captain Marcus Kiely and Lucas Berti-Newman prominent. A move anchored around Berti-Newman was enough to draw a penalty for Prendergast to make it 14-3 in the 32nd minute.

The patience of Prendergast made a hole for Kiely to get one-on-one with Cosgrave, a slip compromising his footwork and Barron clamping on for a penalty to end the half.

The driving game was Newbridge's heavy-handed tool and it worked when Prendergast's half-break and hands put Berti-Newman away with Cormac King on his shoulder to finish in style, Prendergast landing the extras for 14-10 in the 40th.

A 30-metre surge from Jack Boyle was defused by O'Sullivan and Barron had to be taken down as Fintan Gunne almost rolled to the line, Cosgrave coming back for three points in the 45th minute.

Newbridge were growing with every minute and Prendergast's penalty made it 17-13 in the 50th.

When Gunne lofted a bomb at half-way, Conroy grabbed the ball and took off, rounding Niall Carroll and surviving the closing Cosgrave for a glorious try to lead by one in the 53rd minute.

It could have been a fatal blow when second-row Patrick O'Flaherty was binned for a tackle on Eddie Kelly. They couldn't hold out as St Michael's looked to the edge, wing Kelly diving over for 22-18 in the 58th minute.

When Kiely powered out of a tackle, Lawlor added valuable metres and Prendergast swung the ball left for O'Sullivan to beat the cover, Prendergast's conversion glancing in off the left post in the 62nd minute, all a man down.

It was pandemonium as Newbridge rattled in the tackles in a desperate bid to survive and somehow, they did just that.

St Michael's - C Cosgrave; E Kelly, S O'Kelly, H McWade, H McErlean (J Nicholson 52); N Carroll, F Gunne (J Woods 55); J Boyle, L Barron, J Power; J Guinane (M Barron 24), S Woods; D Ryan (D Carroll 66), C Booth, W Hickey (capt).

Newbridge - J Shanahan (S Cahill 55); D Conroy, M Kiely (capt), L Berti-Newman (J Gaire 61), D O'Sullivan; S Prendergast, C King (C Halpenny 50); P Leavy, G McNelis (F O'Malley 66), Z Ahmed (B Watson 50); P O'Flaherty (J Murphy 63), D Mangan; M Dennis, L Dunleavy, D Lawlor.

Ref - N Correll (Leinster Branch).

Irish Independent