The collective sigh of relief that descended over the PBC camp and band of supporters yesterday was, to say the least, palpable, when referee Trevor Collins blew the final whistle after nine minutes injury time .
Despite a polished second half performance, Pres must have feared that another major Munster trophy was heading to Limerick when, after twenty five minutes, Crescent powered to 10-0 lead thanks mainly to the brilliance of their second row possession-gainers Barry Lynch and Oisin Keely, full-backMick South and flanker Barry O' Mahony.
That it took a sluggish Pres side nearly thirty minutes to undo a constant Crescent onslaught remains a mystery, and it fell to the tremendously exciting Cronin in the scrum-half berth to inspire the comeback before the break with a memorable individual try. It was a key score against a strong breeze and subsequently sent PBC on their way to claim ultimate honours and give the Mardyke college some consolation after the disappointment in the senior decider on St. Patrick's Day.
Crescent may rue some missed early opportunities. Barry O' Mahony seemed to have secured a completely legitimate score in the opening minutes, but the referee adjudged that the final pass by Dermot Waters went forward. Waters then had two more chances - this time at drop-goals - but they were misjudged. However Crescent kept on perservering and pulverising the Pres defence.
But this day will surly be remembered for Sam Cronin's acts of mischief behind the scrum. Single-handedly he brought Pres back into contention scoring individually against the run of play before the break and then, two minutes after the interval, Cronin went on a slalom run through countless Crescent tacklers. Though upended near his own line, he took a quick tap penalty, distributed to Neil Burke whose sheer physical size then carried him over the line. That try levelled matters, and a Darragh Molloy conversion made it 12-10 to PBC.
The Sam Cronin/Eamon Nugent duet continued to sing wonderfully in this half while centres Sean McKeown and Molloy continued to be strong in attack and defence. Gavin Dunne played a sensible game behind the scrum using the strong breeze to good effect, and though Crescent rallied near the end, Molloy knocked over another penalty in the 34th minute to confirm their name on this year's trophy.
PBC: J. O' Driscoll; R. Owens, B. Dennehy, D. Molloy, S. McKeown; G. Dunne, S. Cronin(c); M. O' Leary, D. Russell, N. Bourke; S. Murphy, A. Wyse; R. Allen, C.McGrath, E.Nugent. Replacements: P. McNally for O' Leary (inj.26).
CRESCENT COMPREHENSIVE: M. South; P. O' Shaughnessy, B. Gavin, P. O' Carroll, C. Aherne; D. Waters, H. Mulcahy; R. Leonard, N. Aherne, B. Storan; B. Lynch, O. Keely; S. Keyes, B. O' Mahony, D. Maguire. Replacements: R. O'Sullivan for O' Mahony (inj. 63).
Referee: T. Collins (Munster)