The season ended on a disappointing note in Donnybrook Energia Park last night, as the AIL champions Lansdowne proved too strong in the Leinster Senior Cup final. A second half blitz saw Lansdowne score 50 points against a Nure side that visibly tired as the match went on.
End of season fatigue, holidays and exam commitments took their toll on both sides, with both starting XVs bearing scant resemblance to the first choice sides that featured during the AIL, but that made little difference in the early stages. Both sides started at a frenetic pace on the 4G surface, with Nure making inroads into the Lansdowne defence. Building on a superior lineout, the Terenure pack laid foundations for plenty of phases, but after ten minutes they still had not fashioned a score. Lansdowne subsequently made their own advances, with Scott Deasy knocking over a simple penalty for the first score. Nure fought straight back, and after several minutes of pressure, lock Alex Thompson crashed over from close range, with Mark O’Neill adding the conversion.
O’Neill followed this with a long range penalty, before a sublime break from full back James O’Donoghue resulted in Harry Moore scoring under the posts. O’Neill added the extras, and despite much toing and froing, the half ended with Nure 17-3 to the good.
It was the cliched game of two halves, however, as Lansdowne emerged from the break a different side. Making several changes at the break, they added experience and pace to their ranks, as Nure suffered several injuries, resulting in a rejigged backline that simply couldn’t handle Lansdowne’s attack. An early try set the tone, and when Lansdowne scored straight from the kick off, the writing was on the wall. As Nure faded, Lansdowne showed their class, and scored try after try to streak out of sight. Despite a late Paddy Thornton salvo that offered hope, Lansdowne never really looked like losing once they hit the front, and were deserved winners of this venerable competition.