Wesley College came out on top in an eight-try thriller against The King’s Hospital to claim the 2018 Bank of Ireland Vinnie Murray Cup title at Donnybrook Stadium.
King’s Hos started the better of the two sides with a penalty in front of the posts from Ian West giving them a 3-0 lead. KH looked likely to extend that lead with a spell camped in the Wesley 22, but the Ballinteer school won a penalty to relieve the pressure.
The next time King’s Hos came knocking they were much more clinical, with Connell Howley going over for their first try, converted by West. Now, it was Wesley’s turn to show what they could do in attack, with Luke Fitzpatrick making an initial break.
A five metre maul followed and ended with KH’s Osebor Evbodaghe sin-binned.
A scrum, then some strong carrying, in particular from Sam Illo, drew another penalty before Peter Costello worked his way over to get Wesley on the scoreboard.
KH took this in their stride. They chased hard after the restart and won a turnover on the Wesley 22.
A quick tap penalty caught Wesley off-guard and Zak Bursey reached over the line to extend his side’s lead to 17-5 after the conversion from West.
Wesley needed to get the next score and James McElroy duly obliged, crashing over after some slick interplay between the Wesley backs to reduce the arrears to seven.
A try-saving tackle before half-time by Wesley’s Ian Sheridan made sure the margin remained at seven at the break.
As with the first half, KH made the stronger start to the second period, first through a break from Fionn O’Loughlin who was brought down just before the five-metre line.
Then a cross-field kick found winger Sam Boland who collected and went over for his side’s third try.
At 12 points down, Wesley needed to get the scoreboard ticking over.
They kept their cool, with scrum-half Jack Atkinson converting a penalty.
Karl O’Connor’s determined chase resulted in Wesley’s third try after he hunted down a McElroy kick in opposition territory. The conversion from Atkinson made it a two point game.
The momentum had shifted. The next score would be crucial. Wesley got it; Atkinson kicking another penalty to give his side the lead for the first time.
From here Wesley kicked-on. Full-back Sheridan got in on the try-scoring action – Wesley were finding a lot of joy with kicks in behind the King’s Hos’ line – capitalising on a mix-up in defence.
Outside centre Luke Fitzpatrick got to a long clearance kick first again to make it 35-22. King’s Hos completed the scoring with a consolation try, but it was Wesley’s day.