Hot favourites Crescent Comprehensive were, naturally, gutted after Glenstal flyhalf Michael O’Flynn’s brilliantly struck long-range penalty booted them out of the competition leaving Glenstalto celebrating as if they had won the trophy.
While the one-point victory merely guided them into the last four, Glenstal’s celebrations weren’t to be dampened. So far, it is achievement enough to make the semi-finals for the first time in a decade after a few heartbreaking years.
The early stages belonged to the Limerick City side who might even have been out of sight after the opening quarter.
Instead, Glenstal adapted a no-surrender stance after clawing their way back into the game, battling to the brink to keep their hopes of victory alive right up until the last minutes.
The hero was O’Flynn, but others queued up behind him to enjoy their moment in the sun, this being a great team effort.
Crescent created most, if not all, of the try-scoring chances but were left to rue a couple of really good opportunities as they ran into a defensive wall that got stronger as the game went on.
With Shane O’Carroll playing a captain’s part, Cathal O’Connor, Luke Russell and Ivan Sherlock added support giving Crescent enough set piece possession to be content with. Glen Robertson, Eoin O’Toole and Mark Doyle also posed threats.
Doyle gave Crescent the lead after 10 minutes with a marvellous try carved out by the speedy Robertson minutes after Doyle almost went in for another.
But, after battling through a qualification round against Midleton College, Glenstal were not to be trifled with. Glenstal coach Paul McMahon admitted: “The guys seemed to lose their nerve in that opening quarter, didn’t follow the game plan and we had to re-adjust at half time. Happily, they got stuck in during the second half, and played to their potential.”
In defence they certainly did. Having reduced the gap to two points with O’Flynn’s 16th minute penalty, they had to be constantly alert to keep Crescent from scoring just before and after the interval. Doyle was stopped on the line and Robertson was cut down 10 metres out as Glenstal lived on the edge.
A concerted response didn’t appear to be enough for Glenstal when Crescent finally lifted the mini-siege and forced a penalty from a favourable position and angle two minutes into injury time. Unfortunately, Ian Cross was off target and it proved hugely costly.
O’Flynn had impressed all day with his line kicking with and into the wind. When he got a second dead ball chance — this time from 48 metres — he didn’t need any prompting, and duly sent his side into a semi-final confrontation with CBC.
It is a challenge that coach McMahon hopes will bring out the best of his side again.
GLENSTAL: B. Bradley, A. Duff, F. Kearney, C. Hughes (captain), D. Costello, M. O’Flynn, J. Hunt, D. Casey, JJ Clarke, O. Grennan, T. Lambton, C. O’Connor, R. Madden, D. Heffernan, B. Costigan.
Replacements: P. Mullin for Madden, R. Ferrara for Kearney, R. Fullam for Duff, P. Lynch for Grennan. Blood replacement: S. Cosgrove for O’Connor.
CRESCENT: E. O’Toole, F. Aherne, G. Robertson, B. Sergeant, M. Doyle, I. Cross, S. Upton, C. O’Connor, R. Costello, J. Flannery, S. O’Carroll (captain), B. Downey, L. Russell, I. Sherlock, E. Reidy.
Replacements: C. Gleeson for Sergeant, G. Fleming for Flannery.
Referee: D. Moloney (MAR)