Presentation Brothers College, Cork joined their arch rivals CBC at the top of the Munster Schools Senior Cup winners’ table, with 28 wins each, when they beat a gallant Rockwell side in front of 4,900 spectators at Thomond Park on Wednesday.
AVONMORE MILK MUNSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUP FINAL: Wednesday, March 17
PBC CORK 22 ROCKWELL COLLEGE 10, Thomond Park
Scorers: PBC Cork: Tries: Daniel Horgan 2, Killian Kingston; Cons: Sean Og Murphy 2; Pen: Sean Og Murphy
Rockwell College: Try: JJ Hanrahan; Con: JJ Hanrahan; Pen: JJ Hanrahan
A high quality final with some sparkling, free-flowing play went the way of warm favourites PBC Cork, but the scoreline was flattering against an industrious Rockwell side who had two chances in the second half which could have made all the difference.
Firstly, Rockwell spurned the chance of three points when they were 10-3 in arrears and opted to run the ball. Shortly afterwards, JJ Hanrahan, their best player on the day, was wide when he opted to kick for goal.
Had those two penalties been converted, it would have edged the County Tipperary youngsters in front and it would have been anyone’s game.
This much-anticipated decider was only three minutes old when Pres got in for the only try of the first half. Centre Daniel Horgan slipped through for a try wide out and number 10 Sean Og Murphy added the conversion from near the touchline.
A late tackle by Pres scrum half Ronan Barry on Brian O’Rahilly saw play being brought from one 22 to the other and this afforded impressive out-half Hanrahan the chance to open Rockwell’s account with a well-struck penalty after 13 minutes.
Rockwell twice went offside in the closing minutes of the half but each time Murphy failed to land the penalty and it was 10-3 to Pres at the break.
The Cork side won mainly because they took their chances in what was a game of some very big hits as both sides opted in the main to cut back into the comfort of their forwards when in possession.
Rockwell had the edge in the scrums and twice won strikes against the head, though they also lost one on their own put-in.
Rob O’Herlihy and skipper Dave O’Mahony were superb in the lineout for Pres but this was offset by Rockwell’s dominance in the scrums.
Cathal O’Flaherty at number 8 for Pres had an outstanding game and a 30-yard break by him in the second half almost brought a try but the offload was knocked on.
Somewhat against the run of play, PBC had a second try on the hour mark when Horgan nipped in between an attempted pass to race clear for a try which Murphy again converted.
Rockwell kept in touch when, after persistent pressure, and several efforts by their forwards to grind a way through, the ball was slipped out the line by replacement scrumhalf Brian Haugh and Hanrahan found a gap to race in from 15 yards. He also converted to leave it 17-10.
Two minutes from the end, however, replacement Killian Kingston got in for a try in the corner which killed off the Rockwell challenge. This sparked a mini invasion of replacements as both sides emptied their benches in the dying minutes.
PBC CORK: Seamus Glynn; Ross Caplice, Jack Costigan, Daniel Horgan, Eoghan Dennehy; Sean Og Murphy, Ronan Barry; Coran Keane, Brian Vaughan, Niall Scannell, Rob O’Herlihy, Dave O’Mahony (capt), Brian Carroll, Jack Duffy, Cathal O’Flaherty.
Replacements used: R Murphy for Carroll, K Kingston for Keane (both 50 mins), E Mills for Glynn, R Cullinane for Caplice, B Scott for Scannell, B Coughlan for Vaughan, E O’Shaughnessy for Barry (all 70).
ROCKWELL COLLEGE: Brian O’Rahilly; Shaun Horgan, Harry McNulty, Donagh McGillicuddy, Ross Mullane; JJ Hanrahan, Tim Rafferty; Tom Doyle, Richard Moran, Cian O’Donnell, Stephen Maguire, Sean McCarthy, Shane Buckley (capt), Joseph Meagher, Luke Cahill.
Replacements used: B Haugh for Rafferty (60 mins), E Phelan, M Cummins, A O’Sullivan, Myles Coffey, D White, C Hyland (all 67).
Referee: Leo Colgan (Munster)