Dublin University Football Club (DUFC) booked their place in the final of the Leinster Senior Cup last night, seeing off Old Wesley 44-24 in a rain-soaked Donnybrook.
The game did not start well for Trinity. Just five minutes, in they were a converted try down to Wesley and the weather, vacillating between driving rain and sleet, was not conducive to the kind of fast-paced, running rugby that Trinity favour. This, however, did not deter the visitors. A terrific break from the halfway line by flanker Paddy Hamilton put DUFC in space and a well-timed pass to Phil Murphy helped them reduce the deficit to two points.
Conditions plagued both sides throughout, making it hard for Trinity to hold on to the ball. It was perhaps unsurprising, then, that the game ebbed and flowed in both directions. The energy and belligerence of both sides kept things interesting.
DUFC, by now, had closed the gap, and they did not have to wait before snatching a second try, with a magnificent Johnny McKeown intercept put him away. Trinity went eight points up when the conversion flew over the bar.
Wesley quickly bounced back, pusing DUFC back into their own 22. Patient play allowed them to stretch Trinity’s defence and eventually crash over. Trinity were rattled by this comeback and conceded another try, but it wasn’t long before they regained their composure: a searing run from Donal Liddy put them in for a third try and gave them a slender one-point lead going into half-time.
The second half began as the first had ended, with a furious 10 minutes of back-of-forths as both sides sought to assert their dominance. Wesley blinked first, their indiscipline handing Trinity a penalty that widened the gap to four points. If it looked like Trinity were tightening their grip on the game, though, another Wesley try pegged them back once again.
With the conditions as they were, the game was never likely to be decided on who was playing the slicker rugby. Concentration was paramount, and Wesley’s cracked first. Near the hour mark, a scramble over the line by Adrian Binder gave Trinity the lead, and they promptly added to it when Hamilton barreled onto an incisive pass from Paddy Nulty. The ensuing conversion put the visitors 13 points in front.
It looked unlikely that Wesley would close the gap, but the final 10 minutes were the game’s most interesting. Wesley put DUFC firmly on the defensive, throwing everything at the visitors in search of an equaliser. Poised mere inches from the try line for what felt like an age, Wesley huffed and puffed but Trinity’s defence remained intact.
Wesley, though, had by now emptied the tank, and DUFC put the icing on the cake in the final moments with another converted try. This 44-24 victory puts Trinity into the final of the Leinster Senior Cup, an added bonus for a side battling it out for a play-off spot in the Ulster Bank League.