Irish eyes are smiling following stunning cup final success

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Drighlington 10

Halifax Irish 26

(Pennine Presidents Cup Final)

Halifax Irish lifted the Pennine Presidents Cup at Dewsbury Rams Stadium courtesy of a stunning performance against the League’s Premier Division champions.

Drighlington were massive favourites and boasted the best defensive record in the league, conceding an average of less than eight points a game.

However, they came across a rampant Irish outfit who battered them into submission. The forwards were magnificent throughout and Andy Brocklehurst in particular, the former Super League forward scoring a brace of tries including a spectacular second half effort from inside his own half.

Stand-off Chris Holroyd was another key player and took the man of the match award with a commanding performance. Drighlington just could not handle him and his darting runs created havoc. It was fitting that his 76th minute solo try wrapped the game up after Drighlington had threatened a late comeback.

It was a superb achievement for Anthony Irvine’s side. The former Castleford player has coached for 10 years alongside Brocklehurst and he was delighted.

“Every player raised their game today and they had the belief that they could win,” said Irvine. “We knew it would take a monumental effort but they came up with the goods and this is a very special day for the club.

“The lads have been fantastic all season and their hard work has been rightly rewarded.”

Irish got off to a bad start when Drighlington took an early lead through Tom Moorby’s converted try. They threatened to go further ahead but Irish rallied and then hit back on 14 minutes, Chris Norman charging over after excellent play from Pete Howard and Holroyd.

Four minutes later Brocklehurst put his side 8-6 up when he stepped clear and powered over after powerful bursts from Jack Holmes and Nick Cassell.

Irish began to take control with Joss Bentley, Dave Smith and Chris Muxlow punching holes in the Drighlington defence and their hard work was rewarded on the half hour when Howard showed considerable strength to crash over. Holroyd added the conversion and a penalty two minutes later to earn his side a 16-6 interval lead.

Irish expected an early Drighlington onslaught and they came out all guns blazing. However, Brocklehurst’s stunning solo try after 44 minutes was a real key moment and it served to visibly shattered the champions’ spirit.

Brocklehurst and Norman had tries ruled out whilst at the other end Martyn Silcox, Bentley and Sean Dyson came up with crucial tackles.

Drighlington began to throw the ball about with abandon and looked dangerous, finally gaining some reward when Gallagher scored on 70 minutes.

However, the Irish were not to be denied and when Holroyd scorched over it sparked scenes of wild celebration. He duly converted and his side enjoyed their finest hour as the hooter sounded.