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Newbridge recover to beat reigning champions St Michael's in thrilling semi-final

Johne Murphy’s charges came back from a 14-0 deficit to set up an all-Kildare final with Clongowes Wood College.

Image: Bryan Keane/INPHO

Newbridge College 25

St Michael’s College 22

NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE PULLED off a seismic shock at Donnybrook to dethrone 2019 champions St Michael’s College at the semi-final stage of the Leinster Schools Senior Cup.

Just six days after the junior side had upset the odds against the Ailesbury Road outfit at the same venue, Johne Murphy’s charges recovered from a 14-0 deficit to set up an all-Kildare final with Clongowes Wood College.

Defending champions Michael’s had begun in devastating fashion with winger Henry McErlean racing clear for a breakaway score on four minutes.

Fullback Chris Cosgrave was on hand to supply the extras and with Newbridge flanker Mark Dennis subsequently sent to the sin-bin, hooker Lee Barron rounded off a line-out maul for their second converted try in the 14th-minute.

Newbridge were struggling to deal with the pace and power of their south Dublin counterparts, but a successful Sam Prendergast place-kick reduced their deficit to 11 points in time for the interval.

They then served notice of their potential on the restart as scrum-half Cormac King capitalised on excellent approach work by Prendergast and Lucas Berti Newman to sprint over the whitewash for a converted score.

Michael’s fired back at the opposite end with a routine Cosgrave three-pointer, but the Newbridge challenge was gathering considerable pace.

Supplementing a Prendergast penalty, Donal Conroy found space on the right-flank to touch down for a 52nd-minute try. This edged the underdogs in front for the first time, but they suffered a set-back when lock Patrick O’Flaherty was issued with a yellow card.

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In his absence, Michael’s regained the lead with a impressive Eddie Kelly five-pointer. Yet Newbridge simply refused to lie down and David O’Sullivan crossed the opposition line just past the hour mark to move them back into the ascendancy.

Prendergast’s touchline conversion extended their cushion to three points and while Michael’s piled on the pressure in the closing minutes, Newbridge held firm to book their first final appearance since 1996.

Newbridge College Scorers

Tries: Cormac King, Donal Conroy, David O’Sullivan

Conversions: Sam Prendergast [2 from 3]

Penalties: Sam Prendergast [2 from 2]

St Michael’s College Scorers

Tries: Henry McErlean, Lee Barron, Eddie Kelly

Conversions: Chris Cosgrave [2 from 3]

Penalties: Chris Cosgrave [1 from 1]

NEWBRIDGE COLLEGE: John Shanahan (Sam Cahill ’56); Donal Conroy, Marcus Kiely, Lucas Berti Newman (James Gaire ’61), David O’Sullivan; Sam Prendergast, Cormac King (Conor Halpenny ’50); Peter Leavy, Geoff McNelis (Fintan O’Malley ’67), Zia Ahmed (Benjamin Watson ’50); Patrick O’Flaherty (Josh Murphy ’63), Diarmuid Mangan; Mark Dennis, Luke Dunleavy, Donough Lawlor.

ST MICHAEL’S COLLEGE: Chris Cosgrave; Eddie Kelly, Simon O’Kelly, Hugo McWade, Henry McErlean (James Nicholson ’53); Niall Carroll, Fintan Gunne (Jeffrey Woods ’56); Jack Boyle, Lee Barron, James Power; Jack Guinane (Michael Barron ’25), Stephen Woods; Dylan Ryan (Dan Carroll ’68), Conor Booth, Will Hickey.

Referee: Nigel Correll.

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