Congratulations to UCD who lifted the Fraser McMullen All-Ireland Under 21 Cup when they defeated Old Belvedere 17-11 in Lakelands Park, Terenure on Monday afternoon…

UCD 17, Old Belvedere 11: A powerful first half performance enabled UCD to retain the Fraser McMullen Cup against a resilient Old Belvedere side at Terenure yesterday.

The score-line may suggest a close and engaging contest, but in the end victory went to the most dominant and organised side – UCD adopted a more fluent and expansive approach to the game and closed out scoring opportunities effectively.

Whether it was the efficient excellence of Alan O’Connor or Mark McGroarty in the UCD forwards or the powerful running that winger Paddy Dix (who played flanker in last year’s final) advertised down both the Belvedere flanks, ’College had many reasons to be satisfied with this display.

Jamie Glynn was another classy performer, who weighed in with a clever second half try at a stage when the contest needed a source of inspiration after a dour opening 20minutes to the second period.

In fact the winners were so dominant, at times it was easy to forget they were playing a large portion of the game with 14 men – they had three players in the sin bin at different stages of the game.

For all Belvedere’s imagination behind the scrum, they failed to spread the ball wide where they boasted arguably the quickest player on the pitch in Mark Corballis. At 10, Irish U-19 star Steve Crosbie pulled the strings but couldn’t engineer a breakthrough for his team with the enthusiastic O’Connor, McGroarty and Eoin Joyce always a constant threat for ’Belvo.

Scoring chances were thin on the ground during a one sided opening 35 minutes. Aided by a strong wind, UCD went in front after 15 minutes when Liam Bourke atoned an earlier miss to convert a penalty from 30metres. From that point UCD continued to dominate proceedings and on 21 minutes came the most incisive phase of the half.

McGroarty did Trojan work to gain possession on the halfway line and popped it to livewire out-half Bourke. In a swift three man move from left to right involving Quirke, Stephen Murphy and David Quirke, UCD crossed the line for the opening try. Murphy’s pass was so magically weighed that it allowed Jordan Coughlan to break inside the Belvo cover and touch down unopposed from 20 metres. Bourke converted to make it 10-0.

The duel between UCD’s McGroarty and Belvo’s Jack Conan was one of the highlights of the game. The two opposing back-row’s command for their own sector speaks volumes for their respective teams – both willing to put their body on the line to recover possession.

When ‘Belvo collected possession, their rugby was constructive but they lacked confidence in closing out scoring opportunities. Squandered possession and poor ball retention cost them at times, but they continued to push forward and for all their effort they reduced the score-line through a Gearoid MacDonald penalty on 33 minutes and thus came into the game in the final five minutes of the first half.

There was a visible drop in the intensity of the game in the second period with both sides driving forward in an effort to dictate proceedings. It was a dour opening, and took until the 63rd minute for a score to be registered with McDonald posting his second penalty for ‘Belvo.

It didn’t take long for UCD to signal their intent and five minutes later they extended their lead. After a sporadic phase of play, the intelligent Jamie Glynn picked off the back of the scrum on the ’Belvo 20 metre line to slalom in under the posts. Bourke converted to make it 17-6.

Remarkably back came Belvedere and the onrushing Donal Murray sprinted in to collect Crosbie’s well measured pass and touch down under the posts. This set up an frenetic final five minutes but a huge defensive effort by industrious UCD pack ensured victory went where it was most deserved.

UCD: Conal Doherty; Paddy Dix, David Quirke, Stephen Murphy, Barry Daly; Liam Bourke, Jamie Glynn; Gordon Frayne, Adam Clarkin, Rory Harrison; Alan O’Connor, Emmet McMahon; Jordan Coughlan, Mark McGroarty, Eoin Joyce.

Old Belvedere: Gearoid McDonald; Mark Corballis, Donal Murray, James Kearns, Simon Killeen; Steve Crosbie, Aaron Sheehan; Adam Howard, Cillian MacDonald, Jake Cawley; Colin Mallon, Conor Owende; Diarmuid Kennedy, Michael Oyuga, Jack Conan.