For the fourth Sunday in a row, the Seapoint U-20s lined out in their quest to win the Harry Gale cup. With home advantage and buoyed by their heroic semi-final display away to Naas the previous week, confidence was high amongst the Seapoint supporters that this team could bring home the Harry Gale cup for the first time since 1986.
Seapoint were playing with the very strong wind in the first half and enjoyed good field position from the kickoff. De Le Salle defended resolutely and stood up bravely to prevent Seapoint getting an early score. Seapoint demonstrated ambition, running good lines but in difficult conditions handling errors turned over possession more than once. Twice in the first 10 minutes Seapoint mauled their way a full 15 meters in the opposition 22 and were unfortunate not to win penalties when it appeared the mauls were pulled down just short of the line.
Seapoint finally got the opening score. Liam Forster picked off the back of the scrum on the opposition 22. From the ensuing ruck Jack Campbell ran a hard line at first receiver. Beating the first tackler Campbell made a clean line break and backing himself he powered his way past the opposition full back to score beside the posts. Brindley converted to leave the score at 7 points to nil which was the least Seapoint deserved after 15 minutes.
The next score went to DLSP and was very much against the run of play. From the restart Seapoint failed to clear their lines and after a couple of rucks knocked the ball on to concede a scrum just outside their 22. The DLSP scrum half broke on the blindside, got clean through, and scored. Their outhalf kicked a very difficult conversion against the wind to tie up the score at 7 points each. Advantage DLSP as the wind was thought to be worth at least 10 points and we were a full 20 minutes into the first half.
Seapoint soon regained control of possession and territory. Barra Whelan came on at scrum half replacing Daniel Drohan (injured). After sustained pressure following the restart, Liam Forster was held up over the line. From the next attack, Jack Campbell and Liam Forster made two incisive drives and Barra Whelan announced his arrival by picking the ball up and diving over the line. Brindley failed to convert. This left the score at 12 point to 7 when the referee decided to take a late water break (25 minutes).
Seapoint were determined (and needed) to score again before half time. However, DLSP were resolute in defense and hard to break down. Eventually after sustained pressure, Seapoint won a penalty inside the 22 and a DLSP player was dispatched to the sin bin. From the next scrum Liam Forster made a trademark powerful break, delivered an accurate offload to Alex Lee who had to beat two defenders before scoring with an outstretched arm. James Brindley missed the conversion. Shortly afterwards Conor Eivers came on for Conor McCaul (bruised shoulder)
Despite lot’s more pressure from Seapoint including Louis Whelan being held up over the line, Seapoint failed to score again in the first half. [b]Half time score : Seapoint 17 DLSP 7[/b]. Luke Hammond came on for Luke Dunne and Sean Finn came on for Jack Campbell. From the supporters perspective, it was not clear that ten points was going to be enough as Seapoint faced into the strong wind in the second half.
However, they need not have worried. To a man the entire 22 Seapoint players put in a second half performance that firmly shut the gate and never let DLSP believe for a minute that they could win this fixture. The DLSP outhalf helped by over-cooking the restart and giving Seapoint a scrum on the halfway line. For the next 10 minutes Seapoint strangled DLSP and refused to let them out of their own half. Sean Flannery was unlucky to dislocate his shoulder whilst bravely blocking down a clearance kick. Stephen Manning came on Sam Cassidy at center. the Seapoint backline put together some consecutive phases, and with some strong running and accurate handling Alex Lee eventually went over in the corner for his second try. Brindley knocked over an incredibly difficult conversion to leave the score at 24 -7
The rest of the second half was an exhibition of grit and resolution. No matter what they tried DLSP found it difficult to make inroads into the Seapoint half. For the last 20 minutes Jack Hand and William Dawson-Howe replaced Luke Dunne and Louis Whelan respectively, and Jack Campbell came back on at 8 for Liam Forster. When DLSP eventually gained territory in the final 15 minutes, Seapoint stood firm. When DLSP finally forced their way over for a try with less than 10 minutes to go, Seapoint never looked like they could lose the game. For the final 10 minutes Seapoint played with the same commitment and physicality they had started the second half with, dominating possession and territory and never allowing DLSP back into a scoring position. There was a huge cheer from all the Seapoint supporters when the referee eventually blew his whistle with the final score being 24 points to 14.
Difficult to pick a man of the match. Jack Campbell and Liam Forster brought physicality and directness throughout. The entire Seapoint pack including the replacements pack were outstanding, winning their lineouts and having complete dominance in the scrums. The backline was solid, defended resolutely and attacked with ambition. Gareth Hughes leading the backline in attack and defence. Ultimately the decision was to award Alex Lee man of the match for his performance and two try contribution.
Seapoint legend Karl O’Neill was joyful as he presented the trophy to Liam Forster on behalf of the Leinster Branch. Liam was magnanimous in victory and dedicated the win to the great Seapoint clubman Peter Manning who passed away recently. Huge Kudos to the coaching staff of [b]Eamonn Murphy and Darragh Forster[/b] on delivering the trophy for the club. And a huge amount of credit goes to manager [b]John Montayne[/b] who persevered throughout the last 18 months of uncertainty, with all the stop-starts of Covid to keep this group of players together, encouraging them to keep fit, maintain their workout regimes and ultimately to come back together for this successful campaign. Well done Monty.