U18.5s Progress to the Metro Cup Final!

U18.5s Progress to the Metro Cup Final!

(19 Apr 2019)

 

DLSP FC U18.5s progressed to the final of the Metro Cup after the most dramatic of finishes to a full-on encounter with an excellent Coolmine team last night at Kirwan Park.

Spring was in the air and, although we had to delay kickoff due to the traffic chaos in the area, we got underway in the last of the sunshine with a healthy crowd out to cheer on their respective sides.

Following a pattern which was to last throughout most of the game, Coolmine established a firm grip on territory and possession and registered the first score to give themselves a 7-0 lead. Salmo kept their heads though and a fine break by Jake Norton saw him touch down under the posts with Adam O’Leary adding the extras to make it 7-7 with a second try following from Jake Finlay as the home side powered over in the corner to establish a 12-7 lead. Coolmine replied with a second converted try of their own and we turned around at halftime 12-14 as the floodlights came up.

 

The second half, whilst tryless, was nevertheless one of the most engrossing you could hope for. Coolmine were in the ascendancy for long periods, often camped in the Salmo 22 with the home side managing the occasional breakout to relieve the pressure temporarily. At times, in the fading light, it felt like the ghosts of Salmo past had emerged from the trees to stand alongside the stars of Salmo future in the defensive line. Just when it seemed like an away try was inevitable, someone in black would manage a turnover or force the concession of a penalty at the crucial moment.

Try as they might, Coolmine just could not find a way through the hosts stubborn defence and then, with the clock showing 7 minutes left to play, on one of their forays upfield, Salmo were awarded a penalty which Jake, with perhaps the coolest head in Kirwan Park, knocked over to give the home side a 15-14 lead.

Those last 7 minutes will have seemed like a lifetime to the home support. Coolmine threw everything at the Salmo defence in their attempts to force the breakthrough: they went wide, they powered up the middle, phase after phase as they retained the ball really well. Somehow the black jerseys raised themselves from the ground to make tackle after tackle as Jake marshalled the line superbly, holding their shape and resetting time after time.

As the clock moved into the red and the nerves began to fray even more, the inevitable seemed to have happened when Coolmine were awarded what seemed like a straightforward, very kickable penalty to win the game. Those home supporters who could still bear to watch prepared for the worst as the Coolmine kicker began his run-up. Time seemed to stand still as the ball sailed through the air and we waited for the flags to go up and the final to whistle to blow.

But something, whether the rugby gods, Fate, Lady Luck or just a sudden gust of wind, had other ideas and smiled on the home side. As we watched in silence, the flags stayed down, the referee turned to the touchline and blew for full-time. Several seconds passed before it fully registered that the kick had drifted wide of the posts and Salmo had won. Shock mingled with delight as the home team and their supporters celebrated the hardest of hard-fought victories.

Sport can be cruel and we have been on the wrong-end of more than a few last-minute heartbreaks over the past few seasons. Had that last kick gone over, as tough as it would have been to take, nobody could have begrudged Coolmine the victory and we must acknowledge what was a fine performance from a worthy opponent. As for the boys in black, red and green: they did the colours some service this evening and were a credit to the club, their families and supporters.

A word too for the coaching staff who deserve huge credit for their part in the performance and who now have a final to plan for!

Match gallery is now up:

https://www.jcsportsphotography.com/dlsp185coolmine



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D L S P 22  Coolmine 17-26