Rockwell edged a thrilling contest of two equally matched teams at Thomond Park yesterday to qualify for the final of the Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Junior Cup against holders St Munchins on March 27. Their 14-13 victory over Crescent was probably just about deserved and now they are well set to capture the title for the first time since 1997
The quality of rugby on display was of an admirably high standard even if there were also a number of unforced errors, especially when it came to making decisive tackles at crucial stages. Individually, too, both sides paraded young players of considerable potential. Few made as big an impression in the Rockwell pack as back-rows Tom Downey, Shane Neville and number eight Brian Gleeson while skipper Harry Buttimer and his centre partner Robert Wall ensured that the possession coming their way was put to fruitful use.
This was the case as early as the third minute when winger Darius Achimugu was released just inside the Crescent half from where he sprinted away for a fine try that out-half Rory Collins converted. Crescent, however, quickly demonstrated that they hadn’t been rattled by such an early body blow.
Captain and number eight Conal Henchy was an absolute ball of life and hooker Max Clein was constantly prominent. A forty-metre penalty by full-back Connor O’Halloran found the target and was followed on twenty minutes by a try for Joe McNamara who came off his wing to finish off a brilliantly manufactured movement in the left corner to put Crescent 8-7 ahead.
Crescent struck again on the stroke of half time when Clein took a short throw at a close-range line-out, Henchy capitalising on the surprise element to crash over for an unconverted try that put them 13-7 ahead at the break.
Rockwell were to enjoy the better of matters territorially in the second half. Collins missed a penalty from a favourable position but they retained the initiative. Midway through the half, strong pressure forced Clein to concede a penalty on his own line that cost him a yellow card. Rockwell immediately took full advantage, Buttimer squeezing over at the posts for Collins add the points that made all the difference at the end.
Crescent – C O’Halloran; J McMahon D O’Sullivan, E Duruji, B Nash; W Hoffman, J Duggan; M Duggan, M Clein, J Madden, R Quinn, C Kirby, J Lyons, C Clery, C Henchy capt. Replacements – L O’Grady, S Farrell, J Neilon, A Kirby, J Colgan, S Donnarumma, C O’Halloran, N Roche, J Sommers, K McCarthy.
Rockwell – C Hogan; D Achimugu, R Wall, H Buttimer capt, B Farrelly; R Collins, T Ross; D Moroney, C Meaney, J Browne, O Ediale, E Dunphy, T Downey, S Neville, B Gleeson. Replacements – J Lawrenc, L Cummins, T Chanda, N Maher, C Jay Coleman, P McGarry, T Collier, D Clarke, Z Lynch, J Cronin.
Referee – Tommy O’Donoghue.