The final round of games in the 2018 Bank of Ireland Shane Horgan Cup saw the Midlands Area take on the South-East to decide who would lift the trophy.

The South-East were on top of the table having won three games in a row, while the Midlands came into the decider after their first loss in the previous round.

In the first game of the day, the North Midlands Area took on Metro. The Metro Area had yet to win a game, while the North Midlands defeated the Midlands in Round 4.

North Midlands Area 17 Metro Area 20

Played in wet conditions, both teams were intent on keeping the ball moving in an entertaining match. From the outset, Metro were putting pressure on and keeping the ball well through phases of play. It wasn’t long until they took the lead.

Shane Horgan Cup

After some lovely running rugby from left to right, outside centre Thai Bao Tran made a great linebreak to run in from 30 metres to score Metro’s first try.

They continued to put pressure on, forcing North Midlands to concede a penalty 35 metres from goal. From the left side, tight head Neville Godfrey converted an excellent kick to give his side an 8-0 lead after 15 minutes.

It was then North Midlands’ turn to have their purple patch. The made use of the elements to pin Metro inside their own third for what was to be the remaining 10 minutes of the first half.

With all the possession, an unfortunate knock-on on the line from a pick-and-go ended the attack.

Shane Horgan Cup

However, it wasn’t long before North Midlands out-half Shane O’Loughlin took a quick tap penalty inside the Metro 22 and ran it in, and converted, to make it 8-7 at the break.

The second half saw some fine offloading from both teams open up space in attack.

Thai Bao Tran scored his second with Luke Carey also scoring for Metro. Devlin McLoughlin went over for North Midlands’ but Metro won out 20-17.

Midlands Area 22 South-East Area 0

Midlands v South-East had all the thrills and spills you would expect from a cup decider.

The teams occupied the top two places in the Shane Horgan Cup table before kick-off, with the winner guaranteed to lift the trophy.

Shane Horgan Cup

The Midlands Area played with a lot of width allowing individual players to use their footwork and evasion skills to great effect. Centre Conor Gibney was first to touch down for the Midlanders through a well-worked passage with carries from Conor Neary and Emmet Rigney.

The try was converted with a penalty giving them a 10-point lead at half-time.

The second half began with the South-East piling on the pressure for more than 15 minutes inside opposition territory, but with no return due to the fantastic defending of the Midlands.

Some great skills and carries from Jack Hanlon, Brian Keogh and Paul Deeney couldn’t break down the resilient opposition defence.

Shane Horgan Cup

Ben Smullen took the pressure off his side in fantastic fashion. He made a great break inside his own 22, riding tackles using his fiery pace to run in an 80-metre try under the South-East Posts.

The South-East never gave up and kept working hard but it wasn’t to be their day.

They were turned over inside the opposition half allowing the explosive Gibney to score another a breakaway try and seal the win, and the Shane Horgan Cup, for the Midlands Area.

Shane Horgan Cup table

 P  W  D  L  Tries  For Against BP Pts
Midlands 4 3 0 1 12 82 19 3 15
South-East 4 3 0 1 15 97 78 2 14
North-East 4 2 0 2 13 86 82 2 10
Metro 4 1 0 3 8 64 94 1 5
North Midlands 4 1 0 3 6 37 72 0 5