Pres now meet Castletroy in Wednesday’s final at a Limerick venue. The sides clashed earlier in the qualifying section of the competition when Castletroy edged it 5-3 before making the decider for the first time.
Having struggled in the early stages, Pres played their best rugby yesterday in the second half of a keenly contested affair. Inspired by an outstanding contribution from loose head prop and captain Niall Scannell and with Jack Duffy and Brian Carroll also impressing, they were the stronger side up front but still found it difficult to impose their will on the game.
That was probably due to a large extent at the concession of a third-minute try by Crescent by centre Dara O’Doherty. A cleverly placed little chip by out-half Gareth Quinn-McDonagh bounced nicely for O’Doherty who turned inside a wrong-footed defender and then sprinted 30 metres before touching down — with Shane O’Brien converting.
With flanker Eoghan Cross leading by example and David Cowpar also shining in the back-row, Crescent were the livelier side in the loose and though Pat Deasy narrowed the gap for Pres on 12 minutes with a close range penalty, the Limerick side held on to lead 7-3 at the break having played against the wind.
However, it was a different matter on the turnover as Pres raised the tempo and deservedly went into the lead on 35 minutes. Full-back Deasy cut through from outside the 22 and scorched over just to the right of the posts to put his side 8-7 in front. However, he pulled the conversion wide and must have been relieved that the miss didn’t come back to haunt him.
The Pres pack never released their grip on the game and didn’t have their line seriously threatened.
P Deasy; W Murphy, C Bohane, G Murray, S Og Murphy; J Costigan, M Kelleher; N Scannell capt, B Vaughan, I Mullarkey, D O’Mahony, K Kingston, R. O’Herlihy, J. Duffy, B. Carroll.
P McKeown for O’Herlihy 42 mins; C O’Flaherty for Kingston 56.
T Ryan; S O’Brien, D O’Doherty, JJ O’Toole, J Quinlan; G Quinn-McDonagh, R Fenton; J Randles, L Malone, L Murray, J Donovan, G Herbert, E Cross capt, N O’Shea, D Cowpar.
P Coffey for Fenton 40 mins; C Russell for Donovan 44.
D. McCormack (Munster).