Greystones RFC u20’s took their season to a national stage last Sunday when they soundly beat the much-fancied Trinity College Academy Team at Wanderers FC in Merrion Road in the qualifier for the Frazer McMullen All Ireland under 20 Cup, a trophy Greystones now enter for the first time since it’s inception well over a decade ago.
With their recent 81-0 turning over of a poor Old Wesley side, the Greystones side were full of confidence but would have been acutely aware that while they were winning the Premier B section at a canter, Trinity would be a battle-hardened outfit having spent the last couple of months trading blows with the elite Leinster sides like UCD, Lansdowne and Terenure.
In keeping with their status as favourites, Trinity started the game at breakneck speed, to their credit playing a wonderful brand of rugby that saw them run the ball at every opportunity. Greystones seemed to struggle with the sheer pace of Trinity’s play as well as their speed at the breakdown.
Conceding two penalties in the first ten minutes was not the start the Wicklow men had planned on, and they soon found themselves 6-0 down. Trinity were happy that the day was unfolding as expected.
But Greystones started keeping possession of the ball by working harder on the deck. Suddenly they had the platform from which they duly sent in the cavalry. Gerry Peakin and his second row partner James Hayes launched themselves deep into the Trinity lines, always making yards, prop Kenneth Murphy wreaked utter havoc with the physicality and brilliant timing of his lines around the corner into startled College defenders. Most prominent was No.8 ConorGuihenwho’s aggressive carries and superb athleticism were too much for his opponents to handle. After a number of line breaks Guihen was eventually rewarded with a touchdown under the sticks, outhalf Masterson converted his first kick of the day for a 7-6 lead with a quarter of the game gone.
More importantly Greystones realized that if they controlled the ball, they were more than a match for Trinity. After Masterson landed a long-range penalty into the wind, Guihen touched down for his second try in the corner after some mesmerizing foot work by right wing Jack Keating who was to give his opposite number, the Trinity captain such a torrid afternoon that the poor fellow didn’t know where to look half the time as every time he turned Keating has twisted the opposite direction.
Leading 15-6 at half-time it was obvious that the first score of the second half would be psychologically huge. Trinity threw everything at Greystones but at this stage the men from Dr. Hickey Park knew they had the measure of their more feted opponents. An absolutely glorious Masterson drop goal from 35 yards must have been a hammer blow to the Students’ confidence, as was the suffocating defensive shifts being put in by hooker Sean Fenelon, the poaching by prop Shane Mulvaney and the rapid-fire hits flankers Cormac O’Donoghue& Ian O’Beirne were making - but to their credit they kept pressing, and got over the Stones line for an unconverted try after a rare period of sustained possession out of their own half.
Greystones had begun to use the wind in the second half but the tactic was depriving them of the ball so they reverted to plan A and started launching their runners into Trinity’s defensive lines once more – centreConorShiel matched his forward counterparts in sheer menace in contact, while his centre partner Jack Rowe made one supreme line break that was unlucky not to yield a try. But the man with the mojo was out half Masterson, the scratch golfer used all his metronomic powers to punish Trinity’s fading discipline with three further penalties from 35/40 yards – all dispatched with plenty of air to spare. With 15 minutes left Greystones were 27-11 up and could have been forgiven for thinking the game was won, but Trinity’s admirable spirit put paid to any such notions as they scored a consolation try with 5 minutes to bring it back to a two score game. The diminutive but lightning fast sub-winger James Wood made a tremendous carry into the Trinity and carries by Kenneth Murphy, Rob Walsh, skipper DarahCallanand the Herculean Ian O’Beirne followed before livewire scrum half Jason Curran put Jack ‘The Last Word” Keating over at the stroke of full-time to leave the final score at 32-16 to the unfanciedWicklow side, who now must make plans to travel to Munster in a few weeks time (22nd March) to take on the top 20s side from the southern province, with a home semi-final the carrot for the winners.
And hostilities will be renewed with Trinity this coming Sunday 10th March at 3pm in Greystones as the two sides meet in the McCorry Cup Quarter Final. Revenge will certainly be on the menu for the Students but this exceptional Greystones side will be keen to prove they’re the real deal and back up last Sunday’s win with another, and earn a home McCorry semi-final in the process. An exciting few weeks in store indeed.
Greystones Team v Trinity:
K Murphy, S Fenelon, S Mulvany, G Peakin, J Hayes, I O’Beirne, C O’Donoghue, C Guihen, J Curran, D Masterson, C Jordan, J Rowe, C Shiel, J Keating, D Callan (CAPT) Subs: C Higgs, F Coleman, R Walsh, D Donohue, R Usher, J Wood, D Kickham.