The game was played in bitterly cold and showery conditions and both sides deserve every credit for their wholehearted and skilful efforts. It was heartbreaking for Crescent, bidding for a first title since 1994, who looked well on course to the final when two superb second half drop goals by out-half Sean Scanlon moved them five points ahead in the 53rd minute.
They continued to shade the issue against a Pres side that didn’t click into top gear until the closing minutes but time was almost up when centre Barry Kelleher made the crucial incision. The move was carried on by prop Peter Kelleher before Simon Zebo squeezed over in the corner to level the tie. Deasy’s conversion was an astonishing effort from a talented footballer who figured at full-back in the successful side of 2005 and was a member of last year’s team beaten in the final by St Munchin’s.
Deasy will obviously be a key man in the final against CBC but Pres will need improvement if they are to get the better of their great Cork rivals, a point certainly not lost on coach Don Buckley.
“I’d have settled for a draw but you couldn’t have asked for a better guy than Scott to take that kick and it was a terrific effort,” he said. “I’d have to admit that we got out of jail today. We only picked up any momentum in the last five minutes. We struggled in the line-outs and it’s an area we’ll have to work on. We knew Sean Scanlon was a good player and his drop goals were outstanding but we got the win and now have the final to look forward to”.
Deasy certainly played a true captain’s part in his side’s victory given that he knocked over three of four shots at goal whereas Ian Cross for Crescent missed three out of three. He was off the mark from long range after nine minutes but moments later nippy scrum-half Diarmuid Upton took a quick tap when awarded a penalty on the Pres 22 and opened the way for number eight Darren Mulcair to crash over for a well-taken try.
Deasy cut the arrears with a close range penalty on 20 minutes after strong Pres pressure featuring flanker Brian O’Hara (a son of former international Pat) and prop Peter Kelleher. Their facility to turn over possession played a big part in restricting Crescent’s advantage to two points at the break having enjoyed the benefits of the very strong wind.
Indeed, Pres went ahead from the restart with a Deasy penalty but Crescent subsequently enjoyed their best spell. Their big pack, with Ken Hanley, Luke Russell and Mulcair outstanding, were having the better of matters up front and duly created the opportunity for Scanlon to land excellent drop goals in the 45th and 53rd minutes to put his side in a seemingly commanding position.
The loss of their injured out-half and Irish Examiner National Junior Sports Star award winner Andrew Burke wasn’t having an overly adverse affect on Crescent’s overall performance but they were rocked at the death by Zebo’s 69th minute try and Deasy’s remarkable conversion.
PRESENTATION BROTHERS: G. Nugent; T. Cullinane, A. Rose, B. Kelleher. S. Zebo; S. Deasy capt, D. O’Driscoll; P. Kelleher, R. Corkery, R. Darmody, D. Lucey, M. Kenefick, N. Barry, B. O’Hara, P. O’Mahony.
Replacements: B. Cagney for Darmody 47 mins; D. Tuohy for Lucey 50.
CRESCENT COMPREHENSIVE: E. O’Toole; F. Aherne, I. Cross, O. O’Riordan, M. Doyle; S. Scanlon, D. Upton capt; K. Finlayson, J. Corrigan, S. Hennigar, K. Hanley, A. McCloskey, L. Russell, E. Ryan, D. Mulcair.
Replacements: R. Dennehy for O’Riordan 12 mins; P. Kinevane for Ryan 38 temporary; B. Downey for Finlayson 65.
Referee: G. Clancy (Munster Assoc).