Needing a converted try to upset the Cup favourites, Munchin’s poured forward in waves as the clock ticked past the 70 minute mark. Their momentum, aided by Pres indiscipline, saw the Limerick college rapidly gain ground through a succession of quick tap penalties and the last play set the dangerous Craig O’Hanlon free. But as the Munchin’s flyer darted for the corner, Simon Zebo and Johnny McCarthy got across to produce a double tackle in what proved the last play of the game.
On reflection it was probably a fair result. Tries win games and Pres posted two courtesy of their excellent scrum half Dave O’Driscoll and Ireland Schools captain, Brian O’Hara. But having built up a 12-0 half-time lead, the Cork students found themselves on the back foot for almost the entire second half. Munchin’s mixed up their game brilliantly on the turnover, Robert Guerin and Michael Kelleher varying their kicks to great effect, pinning the holders back inside their 22 for large portions of the half. Danny Barnes and Ger Bourke made incisive inroads and place kicker Michael Madden, while missing two penalties, kept his side in contention by converting another two.
However, defensively PBC excelled. Their lineout wobbled slightly following the withdrawal of Peter Kelleher in the first half but thanks to the leadership of Peter O’Mahony and the unstinting efforts of O’Hara, Bryan Cagney and Patrick O’Donovan, Pres were a more cohesive forward unit.
Under pressure they cradled possession and made recycling look easy. Along with controlling influence of half backs Dave O’Driscoll and Cormac O’Flynn, Don Buckley’s side were able to clear their lines efficiently despite being under the cosh for most of the second half. Pres didn’t have to wait long for the opening try after 10 minutes. From their own scrum set just outside the 22, it somehow buckled under pressure but when the ball popped out, Dave O’Driscoll spotted a gap and dashed under the posts with O’Flynn adding the extras.
Pres began to pressurise them severely up to half time. O’Flynn came close to landing a drop goal, a Simon Zebo chip and chase almost reaped a try only to be denied by John Sherin and minutes after Zebo’s play Pres had their second try. Pres won a scrum five metres from the line and the tireless Brian O’Hara picked from the back and drove over.
But Munchin’s pressure game reaped dividends after the restart. Bourke was to the fore along with Guerin and Kelleher while Pres indiscipline allowed Michael Madden to atone for an earlier missed penalty after 44 minutes. Madden missed a crucial kick after 59 minutes but eight minutes later arced over a beauty as Munchin’s eyed an upset. The visitors created a superb chance in the dying seconds but Zebo and McCarthy managed to halt Craig O’Hanlon in what were heart-stopping moments for the Cork college who now meet Castletroy in the semi-final.
Scorers for PBC: D O’Driscoll and B O’Hara try each; C O’Flynn con.
St Munchin’s: M Madden 2 pens.
PBC: G Nugent; J McCarthy, C Desmond, C Fitzgerald, S Zebo; C O’Flynn, D O’Driscoll; B Cagney, P Kelleher, P O’Donovan; D Lucey, J Coyne; C Murphy, B O’Hara, P O’Mahony (c). Replacements: C Hartnett for Kelleher (inj 16); E Murphy for Fitgerald (ht); I Mullarkey for Cagney (blood 69-70); R O’Donovan for Coyne (70+2)
ST MUNCHIN’S: D Browne; Craig O’Hanlon, C O’Neill, D Barnes, G O’Hanlon; M Kelleher, R Guerin; C O’Regan, D Kavanagh, G Bolger; S Duggan, M Madden; P Cleary, J Sherin, G Bourke (c).Replacements: Ciaran O’Hanlon for O’Regan and P Loughran for Sherin (both 64); K McManus for Browne (65); B Morrissey for Cleary (70 +1).
Referee: T Collins (MAR)