NUIG Rugby Youth Academy U18.5s
Win Connacht U18.5 Development League Final 2016-17
A hard fought 15 -
14 win for NUIG Rugby Academy U18.5s brought a third development
league Connacht title to NUIG Rugby in the space of four years.
Playing in tough
conditions in Tuam last Saturday, the Monivea U18.5 squad proved a
resilient and brave opposition.
NUIG were 8-0 up at half
time, playing some open and expansive rugby. Flanker Liam Melia and
centre pairing Conor Briscoe and Marcus Burke made some great line breaks and
yardage in the first 20 minutes. This eventually led to a well worked team
try by David Wall in the corner.
However, a hardworking Monivea
pack led by Nathan Hansberry fought their way back into the game in the second
Instead of kicking for
goal, they went down the line and backed themselves to get a try from a
lineout maul. Hansberry went over for the score and Niall Sweeney
converted. Monivea were back in the game.
Brian McDonnell, the
Monivea Captain, led by example and soon his team continued their onslaught on
the NUIG line. Hansberry again marshalled his pack and they got over for a
second try twenty minutes into the second half. Sweeney
again converted a difficult kick, off a slippery surface, putting Monivea
14-8 in the lead heading into the final quarter of the game.
But the NUIG lads just
never gave up. Despite losing Hugh Keaveney their talisman number 8
to the sin bin, they kept their heads.
They bossed and
harried for possession and eventually gained a
scrummage foothold just inside the Monivea half with only seconds
As the referee called
"last play", NUIG scrumhalf Rú Durkin broke free, after
some great play by their back row. He carried and pinned Monivea into
their own 22. Wing forward Jason Kelly picked from base of the resulting and
well controlled ruck, skipped around the Monivea defensive pillar and with a
strong hand, off broke into space and sprinted the remaining 20 metres to
finish under the posts.
Jack Grealish, NUIG's
dependable full back, kept his nerve to convert the deciding two points that
left a proud Monivea team heartbroken and NUIG Connacht champions. It was
a pulsating end to end game and either team would have been a worthy
win was all the more special as this group of players were the first underage
team (at Under 13) to start up the newly formed NUIG Rugby Youth Academy back
number of these players had been playing together since their mini rugby days
in Na Bairneachaí – Barna Knocknacara Rugby Club.
year, many of this year’s winning squad will go on to play with their U20
NUIG student club mates.
The hard ground work being done by Na Barineachaí and NUIG Rugby Youth
Academy is beginning to show rewards. Players from Under 8 to Under 18.5
are being developed by them, with the first cohort of a winning U18.5s
squad ready to add to and benefit the University senior teams next season.
Back Row: Jim Cullen (Team Manager), Eoin Cahill, Barry O’Shea, James Greenan, Jack Fahey, Liam O’Gorman, Jim Briscoe (Coach).
Middle: Michael Griffen, Liam Melia, Marcus Burke, Jack Grealish, Hugh Keaveney, David Wall, Conor Briscoe (Captain), Eoghan Cullen, Donnacha Dunne, David Burke, Rú Durkin.
Front: Jason Kelly and Tomás Power.