— FRAZER MULLAN ALL-IRELAND U20 SEMI-FINAL: UCD 8, UL Bohemians 25 — Fearghal Kerin was at Belfi eld as the highly-fancied UCD Under 20s were eliminated from the Frazer Mullan All Ireland Semi-Final by UL Bohemians.
THE UCD Under 20s suffered semi-final heartbreak as they were eliminated from the prestigious Fazer Mullan All Ireland Semi Final against last year champions UL Bohs. Not only was the fi nal score line of 25-8 surprisingly large, but the result itself was a major shock for UCD who had been expecting to dispose of the champions at the Bowl.
Along with the return of UCD’s international stars from Six Nations duty, there were several reasons UCD had been so heavily favoured to take the glory in this tie.
Despite their defeat to Lansdowne in the JP Fanagan Premier decider a fortnight previously, UCD were still considered to be in good form, coming off the back of a resounding victory over AIL powerhouses UCC, who themselves were considered the strongest side from outside Leinster left in the competition. While UCD were putting up a 12-5 score line on the highly fancied Cork side, UL Bohs were left to bemoan a walkover after their Ulster opponents had been unable to fulfi l the fi xture.
While this had seemed like it could give UCD extra sharpness, having completed 80 minutes of high intensity rugby the previous week, perhaps it was Bohs’ freshness that shone through while UCD looked a shadow of the side that had made such a blistering start to the season several months ago.
It was also a rare occasion where UCD fi nally had their full, fi rst choice 15 on the fi eld, no longer shorn of the internationals and those called up to the fi rst team, and this adds to the confusion over how exactly College contrived to be so heavily defeated.
“UCD will look at this as an opportunity lost against a team they could have gotten the better of on another day”
Bohs, though very much second favourites, had gone into the game as the tournament’s, holders after a 5-0 victory over Lansdowne in the fi nal at Portlaoise last year courtesy of a David Maloney try. However, the home side made the better start at a particularly large and wide Bowl. Taking advantage of their knowledge of their home patch, UCD utilised the extra space and began tossing the ball out wide early on and their blistering start led to the opening score of the game.
With 15 minutes played, international Killian Lett, on loan from the fi rst team, kicked deep into the Bohs’ ‘22, and with territory accrued, the College centres combined to get the ball wide for UCD to ground in the corner, and though the conversion was missed, it looked at this point like the predicted victory was afoot for UCD.
However, a veteran of last year’s triumph, Eddie Rossiter led a Bohs’ fi ght back as they began to take the game to UCD up front and slowly starved the home side of the fast ball they had enjoyed so much in the opening minutes.
As the pressure grew, the visitors set up a maul off a well-worked lineout and slowly trudged towards the Clonskeagh end of the pitch. Cathal Sheridan peeled off the blind- side of the maul, and seizing the overlap, unleashed the ever dangerous Harry de Stacpool to score right in the corner. As the half drew to a close, Lett knocked over another penalty to give UCD an 8-5 lead at half time, but it was the typically Munster-like control by Bohs in gaining control of the game that would have worried the UCD management team.
With the wind behind their backs, UL refused to relinquish control in the second half. Good play by the forwards allowed go forward ball and at the end of a good series of phases, it was Peter Boland who crossed the line, with Darragh Frawley happy to convert to add the extras. With UL in the ascendency and looking to push on, UCD gave their last push with a long period spent in the Bohs’ ‘22 but resolute defence thwarted UCD. This seemed to disappoint the College, and having seen their best efforts repelled, they then seemed to accept that the opportunity to advance had gone, and it was all Bohs both in possession and on the scoreboard from there on.
Frawley knocked over another penalty, before an increasingly desperate UCD threw a pass that was asking to be intercepted, and de Stacpoole gleefully accepted the gift to fi nish from the half way line, happily diving over to put the Annacotty side 25-8 up, and guaranteed their place in another fi nal.
For UCD, they will look at this as an opportunity lost against a team that despite the resounding nature of the result, they will feel they could have gotten the better of on another day. With Lansdowne having been eliminated in the other semi-fi nal in a tight game against Blackrock College, UCD will have felt more than ever, that this could have been their year.
Victories in the Maher and Conroy Cup’s will have pleased UCD, but the big ones that got away (the JP Fanagan and the Fraser Mullan trophies) will long be rued by the talented squad.