Pack point way as Pres regain Munster Cup

PBC 6, CBC 3

It wasn't pretty, not by a long way, as fear of failure overtook both sides.

Pres had the stronger set of forwards, which guaranteed them a distinct territorial advantage, but an apparent lack of trust in their back division contributed to the nerve-wracking nature of this, their 26th Cup victory.

Their joy at the final whistle was uninhibited, underlining how much the old trophy means to everybody associated with the famed Mardyke college. Coach Don Buckley put it very succinctly.

"There's a sense of massive relief for all concerned although the richest dividend of all will come from the U13s and 14s watching out there today. They have seen success now and will want a lot more of it for themselves."

Keyman Sam Cronin, who joined the small elite group of players who have captained junior and senior cup winning teams, led magnificently by example, even shaking off the effects of almost certain ankle ligament damage shortly after the interval to battle all the way to the finish.

"If it had gone to a replay Sam probably wouldn't have made it but we just couldn't afford to take him off," explained Buckley. "He was awesome. His tactical awareness is second to none and he's like an extra back-row forward. Sam is one guy I'd be happy to go to war with."

Pres won the toss and opted to play against the strong wind.

They had their homework done. The strategy may not have been pleasing on the eye but this one was all about winning. Richard McCarthy in the second-row was a towering figure in the line-out, stealing several Christians throws while guarding his own jealously, and Eamon Nugent, Robert Allen and Jack O'Driscoll also contributed handsomely.

They rucked and they mauled, virtually suffocating the CBC pack.

Cronin was the perfect foil at their heels, producing one fine break and dictating the trend to such an extent that it was totally against the run of play when Peter O'Sullivan, who had a fine game at full-back, kicked Christians ahead on the half hour. At 3-0 down and turning to play with the wind, it looked all over a Pres victory. But they started the half nervously and now it was the turn of the Christians forwards to make the pace, admirably led by their captain Don Keogh, well supported by Kieran Essex in the second-row and a stylish scrum-half in Chris Nolan.

Furthermore, Pres were still in arrears when Cronin was laid low. However, he continued on bravely and helped to turn the tide before being rewarded when the excellent 16 year-old full-back Scott Deasy knocked over an equalising penalty on 52 minutes.

Deasy again held his nerve to kick Pres in front after 66 minutes and from the restart, Cronin gained possession and launched a huge clearance deep into the Christians 22. That's where play remained to the final whistle. Pres pounded the CBC line only to be withheld by a magnificent defence. By then the issue had been decided.

PBC: S. Deasy; S. Costigan, B. Dennehy, T. Kenneally, S. McKeown; G. Dunne, S. Cronin capt; J. Carton, M. O'Leary, N. Burke, R. McCarthy, R. Allen, T. Hennebry, J. O'Driscoll, E. Nugent. Replacement, C. McGrath for Allen, 59.

CBC: P. O'Sullivan; G. Blower, I. Dinneen, F. Chesne, K. Doyle; A. Coughlan, C. Nolan; C. O'Donoghue, D. Nathan, R. O'Neill, K. Essex, R. Gee, S. O'Sullivan, C. Liston, D. Keogh capt. Replacement, P. Murphy for Gee, 56 .

Referee G. Clancy (Munster).

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