SSI/ IRFU O’Boyle Cup Final 2018
IT Carlow 32
Athlone IT 21
For a third consecutive year the O’Boyle Cup is heading back to IT Carlow after they defeated Athlone IT in the final played at Maynooth University on Tuesday. It was a hard fought encounter with the wind having a huge impact on proceedings. It was IT Carlow who played with the aid of the gale force breeze in the first half and they made use of it right from the start. When their impressive number six Conor Smyth crossed the whitewash in the opening minutes it looked like it was going to be a long half for the men from Athlone. The try was converted by full back Nick Doyle to send IT Carlow into a 7-0 lead.
However Athlone bounced back almost immediately with a superb break away try from their lightning quick full back Tom McGann. This came as Carlow were attacking deep inside the Athlone half but a loose pass was pounced on and when the ball arrived in the arms of McGann there was only going to be one winner in the foot race. The try was converted from in front of the posts by Athlone number ten Ryan Convey to level the scores after ten minutes. The try gave Athlone a foothold in the game and they started to ask questions of the Carlow defence. Carlow were able to weather the storm and used the strong wind at their backs to gain territory and apply huge pressure to Athlone’s defence.
Two tries in quick succession from outside centre Patrick Connors and Conor Smyth with his second put IT Carlow firmly back in the driving seat half way through the first half. The first of those tries was converted by Nick Doyle and so the lead was now twelve points, 19-7. If Carlow had thought at that stage they had maybe done enough to break the Athlone challenge the rest of the half told them different. Athlone playing into an extremely strong breeze took the game to Carlow, keeping the ball in hand and edging their way up the field. They got a well-deserved and brilliant team try through their number three Eoin Cooney. The conversion was equally as good with Ryan Convey kicking it expertly into the teeth of the wind. The gap was now only five points and with the elements in their favour in the second half Athlone IT would have been feeling confident. However just on half time Nick Doyle kicked a crucial long range penalty for IT Carlow to give them a bit more breathing space. The half time score line read IT Carlow 22 Athlone IT 14.
Athlone IT started the second half just like Carlow had the first. They used the wind to their advantage and had IT Carlow pinned inside their own twenty two. They tested the Carlow defence with strong running and short passes in tight. Carlow’s defence stood firm for the most part but eventually they conceded a penalty five meters from their try line just to the left of the posts. The decision of Athlone IT to tap and go from the penalty instead of taking a shot at goal would prove to be a major turning point in this game. Only a couple of phases after taking the tap penalty Athlone knocked on the ball and turned possession over to Carlow. Carlow who would have received a huge boost from withstanding all the pressure took their opportunity to strike back and make Athlone’s task extremely difficult. IT Carlow hooker John Murphy scored the decisive try for IT Carlow after a free flowing move involving a number of players. The try was converted once again by Nick Doyle and IT Carlow now led by fifteen points, 29-14.
Athlone IT tried valiantly to get back in contention but they could not break down the Carlow defence. Carlow substitute Darragh Murphy kicked an impressive penalty into the wind to put the result beyond any doubt. Athlone IT never gave up and they scored a deserved try a few minutes from time through the excellent Tom McGann. That score and the conversion by Ryan Convey put a truer reflection on the scoreboard. IT Carlow were deserved winners in the end as they completed an historic three in a row for the college. After the match Edward O’Boyle presented the O’Boyle Cup to IT Carlow Captain Martin Mulhall.
Martin Mulhall, John Murphy, Shayne Fleming, Jake Martin, Stephen Walsh, Conor Smyth, Jack Nolan, Keith Melbourne, Aiden McDonald, Graham Brennan, Calum Finnegan, David Murphy, Patrick Connors, Seamus Curran, Nick Doyle. Subs: Darragh Madden, Ola Ogunkoya, Darragh Murphy, Conor O’Hagan, Eoghan Farrell, Gavin McGonagle, Eoin Fagan, Andrew Redmond, Oisin Cullen.
Cormac Coffey, Dylan Farrelly, Eoin Cooney, Sam Kroupa, Conor Harewood, Robert Teape, Brian McDonnell, Eoin Maher, Eoin O’Reilly, Ryan Convey, Kristian Jocher, Sean McGuinness, Alex Porter, Brian O’Neill, Tom McGann. Subs: Cedric Fokam, Aaron Martin, Alan O’Donovan, Ethan Cox, Ross Murphy-Sweeney, Brandon Shanahan, Conor Maguire, Conor Lincoln.