Schools Rugby
Marauding McEniff helps Mary's overcome resolute Newbridge
The Kildare men had to withstand an early onslaught and struggled for a foothold in St Mary’s half.

Newbridge College 7

St Mary’s College 24

AN ENERGY-SAPPING first-half defensive effort from Newbridge ultimately proved their undoing as a powerful St Mary’s pack, led by captain Niall McEniff forced their way into the Leinster Senior Cup second round.

It took over 27 minutes for the breakthrough thanks to a resolute performance from the Kildare men. But thanks to the buffer provided by Hugo Conway’s heart-stopping finish, Ruairi Shields was able to raid the space to be found in the second half. Fleet-footed left wing Shields touched down the second try before being well placed to see  his skipper crash over a third. That robust effort put sufficient daylight between the sides.

St. Mary’s College supporters Donall Farmer / INPHO Donall Farmer / INPHO / INPHO

A damp Donnybrook afternoon changed to sunshine just in time for kick-off, but the greasy ball brought early errors from both sides.

Newbridge wing Kevin Kyne made the first meaningful line-break of the match, but he was expertly smashed down to signify Mary’s intent. The Dubliners managed territory well in the early stages too, the back three of Conway,  Shields and Eamonn Byrne combining well to cover the back field with Tom Murray taking his tactical kicking opportunities.

Holes began to be formed in the black and white wall after 10 minutes, lock Liam Corcoran and number eight Ronan Watters (one of three of the St Mary’s pack to receive provincial honours) making yards. However, the Newbridge resistance, led by the imposing Ben Howlett and lively Harry O’Neill, forced them to move wide an into risky plays.

After a 15-minute onslaught, Newbridge appeared to have steadied the ship and gained a foothold in opposition territory, but the Rathmines men battled their way back out of their half. And with 27 minutes on the clock, began racking up gainlines again through Watters and Corcoran before they made the pressure tell with Murray drifting right and popping a pass to Conway who juggled the pill into his grasp before sliding home.

Wing Ruairi Shields followed up with a superb touchline conversion with Newbridge pupils bearing down behind him and his accuracy left the score 7 – 0 at the halfway point.


Shields was the next man on the score-sheet as Mary’s hit the ground running in the second half. Sean Heeran’s brilliant carry through traffic put Newbridge on the back foot and the excellent service of scrum-half Daragh McDonagh helped Mary’s find Shields to finish.

Shields’ kicking radar faltered slightly on the conversion, but he was ready and waiting for a second try minutes later only for McEniff to back his own power in contact and barge over the last defender.

With Harry McSweeney consistently effective impressive at the breakdown and McEniff powerful on and off the ball, the result was well beyond doubt. The pressure eased off and the passes between blue shirts kept sticking,  but for the most part Newbridge continued to cope manfully and cover off the space. The St Mary’s celebrations were completed by replacement scrum-half Adam McEvoy, sniping over from close range, but Newbridge refused to go home with a zero against their name, Kyne finding a late breakthrough for a deserved try.


Newbridge College

Tries: K Kyne

Conversions: L Maloney (1/1)

St Mary’s College

Tries: H Conway, R Shields, N McEniff, A McEvoy

Conversions: R Shields (2/4)

NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE: Tom Connolly (Cian Murphy ’58); Jonathan Deane, Karmon Fitzgerald, Darragh Ryan (Enda Dowling ’35), Kevin Kyne; Ben Caulfield (Eimhin Conroy ’55), Luke Maloney;

Ben Howlett (Larry Kelly ’39), Rob Wynne (Joshua Peacock ’60) Niall Stapleton; TH Kelly, Dylan Morrissey; Cian Prendergast, Harry O’Neill (Patrick O’Brien ’39), Patrick Ryan.

ST MARY’S COLLEGE: Eamonn Byrne; Hugo Conway (Alex Dix ’54), Craig Kennedy, Myles Carey (Brian MacMahon ’67), Ruairi Shields; Tom Murray, Darragh McDonagh (Adam McEvoy ’61);

Niall McEniff (George Hassett ’67), Richie Bergin (Gavin O’Brien ’67), James Coolican (Ciaran O’Meara ’61); Conor McElearney (Ian Wickham ’61), Liam Corcoran; Sean Heeran (Niall Hurley ’43), Harry McSweeney, Ronan Watters.

Referee: B McNiece (LRR).

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