Athboy’s Ger Sullivan is tackled by RCSI’s Conor Byrne during Saturday’s Metro League Div 11 final at Townspark. Photo: David Mullen/

Athboy survive storm to cut apart surgeons in Metro decider

RUGBY First-half blast enough to secure league title for Meath side

The gusty winds of Storm Kathleen was always going to play havoc at Townspark on Saturday, but hosts Athboy coped admirably with the conditions to establish a match-winning 12 point interval lead and claim the Metro League Div 11 title with an entertaining 12-10 victory over Royal College of Surgeons Ireland (RCSI), writes Tom Gannon.

The conditions certainly played their part and turned this contest into a game of two halves. In the end, Athboy's first-half tally of 12 points was just enough to see them crowned champions.

RCSI did get two tries in the closing 20 minutes to set up a tight finish, but Athboy were by far the superior outfit and deserving winners. It had been over a decade since the club last tasted success.

With the strong wind at their backs, Athboy started quickly with a forward drive straight from the the kickoff, and after several phases Cathal Dempsey got over the line for the opening try. The conversion was unsuccessful which meant Athboy took an early five-point lead.

RCSI tried to respond and the medical students retained possession for the next 10 minutes. The Athboy defence held strong and RCSI struggled to break the line.

There were numerous infringements by both teams that were picked up by referee Eoin Kiernan which made for a stop-start affair in the first-half. After 20 minutes Athboy were reduced to 14 men when Jake Dempsey was shown a yellow card and sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes.

Another forward drive worked out for Athboy again as Colm Kirby finished off a well-worked move. This time there was no mistake by Colm's brother Edward Kirby from the conversion and Athboy went 12-0 ahead.

RCSI came very close to responding in style, but a fantastic interception by Alan Fox kept Athboy out of trouble.

Edward Kirby, who only started playing rugby last year, put in a fantastic out-half display, kicking deep and finding touch on numerous occasions despite the tough conditions.

Not long after Jake Dempsey returned to action, Athboy were reduced to 14 men again. This time Bryan Quirke tackled a RCSI player before he had gotten to his feet and Quirke was sent to the sin bin for his offence, but Athboy hyeld on to take that 12-0 lead to the interval.

They did have a strong wind advantage in the opening 40 minutes, however it was a very strong performance considering they spent the whole second quarter a man down as a result of the two successive yellow cards. A third yellow card in the contest came just five minutes into the second half. This time it was RCSI's Conor Byrne who was shown the line for a high tackle.

Despite playing against the breeze, Athboy were still on top in the contest particularly at the breakdown, and with 25 minutes left on the clock they still held a 12-point advantage over their opponents.

After various phases of sustained pressure, RCSI eventually got over for a try courtesy of Luke Doyle. The conversion attempt was unsuccessful which meant that Athboy headed into the final 15 minutes with a 12-5 lead.

With only seven minutes left, RCSI crossed the Athboy tryline again. Crucially the conversion attempt was missed which meant that Athboy maintained a crucial two-point lead.

RCSI went in search of the winning score late on but Athboy held their composure well, turning over possession by winning a penalty in the dying minutes and from there out retaining possession.

Eventually, time elapsed and Edward Kirby got his opportunity to kick for touch one more time in the contest to seal the victory and crown Athboy champions.

Athboy - Evan Cole, Jake Dempsey, Ger Sullivan, Sean Treacy, Lee Coldrick, Edward Kirby, Alan Fox; Keith Horan, Daniel Pike, Cathal Dempsey, Colm Kirby, Bryan Quirke, Conor McGourty, Bernard McLoughlin, Niall Finnegan. Subs - Micheal Fitzsimons, Shane Butterly, James Moloney, Oran Ledwith, Enda Reilly, Chris Carroll, Micheal Fagan, Robert McGrath, Frank Sheridan.

RSCI - Euan Woodlock, John Klar, Adrian Hayes, Conor Byrne, John Geraghty McCormack, Niall McNulty, Evan Maier; Conor O'Brien, Joseph Corcoran, Brendan Ernst, Mark Stanley, Luke McAuley, Darragh Braniff, John Paul Hess, Luke Doyle. Subs - Rory Sheil, Aditya Nair, Adarsh Aratikatla, Gerrard Keane, Jhorrit Kahlon, Lorcan Nimmo, Evan Wyatt, Eoin Ryan, Thomas Ryan.

Referee - Eoin Kiernan.