Yes it was close, but Pres can savour the win because they showed a huge amount of courage in battling back from 3-12 down to snatch a place in the decider with two decisive late scores.
Crescent may have every reason to feel disappointed, but it wasn’t a steal. If anything, had Pres lost they would have only had themselves to blame. The holders held anything up to 80%of the territory, if not quite the same amount of possession, and they were really unlucky to have fallen those nine points down.
Pres were in control of for long periods. Unfortunately, they lacked the killer instinct after creating numerous half chances and instead had to settle for a 19th minute penalty from Eamon Mills to open the scoring.
Against the run of play, Crescent took the lead five minutes later when full-back Brian Murphy brilliantly manufactured a try at the posts which he converted himself.
Six minutes of dominance followed and they got a further reward in the form of a second try when flanker Cormac O’Connor powered over after several forward drives close to the Pres line.
To their credit, Crescent coped admirably with a continuous stream of Pres assaults throughout the second-half and one could sense the frustration creeping into the holders’ play as timed ticked away.
Crescent will thank captain Jack Donovan, number eight Sean Monaghan and centres Paul O’Sullivan and David Culhane for holding the fort so well against a Pres side led ably by Ryan Murphy, who had huge support from Greg O’Mahony, Brian O’Sullivan and Seamus Glynn.
However, everything they tried appeared doomed to failure and the first break of the half came when Mills knocked over his second penalty 10 minutes from time.
It took an inspired decision to switch Glynn from full-back to out-half for the last few minutes. Mills had done nothing wrong in that position, but Glynn made an immediate impact and his hard running style posed immediate problems for Crescent.
Six minutes from the end he charged onto a pass from Matthew Kelleher and set off on a strong gallop right to the line. Mills added his contribution and ensured Pres booked a place in the final by adding a difficult conversion in windy conditions.
Pres coach Peter Scott was clearly delighted and hailed his young troops for the way they battled their way back from an “impossible situation.”
“I thought we dominated the game and it would have been bitterly disappointing for us to lose it. We lost our most consistent player (Ross Caplice) through injury in the build up and we really had to dig deep. I was very proud of the way the 20 guys (team plus five replacements) performed with such pride in the jersey,” he said.
Pres now meet Castletroy College in the final at Musgrave Park next Wednesday.
B. Murphy; M. McElligott, D. Dee, P. O’Sullivan, D. Culhane; L. Hanly, R. O’Doherty; N. Horan, R. Kavanagh, C. O’Brien; S. Stanley, J. Donovan (capt); C. O’Connor, S. Monaghan, P. Ryan.
S. Glynn; M. O’Leary, R. Cullinane, C. Bannon, B. O’Sullivan; E. Mills, M. Kelleher; B. Scott, D. Malone, S. Randles; G. O’Mahony, D. Hartnett; R. Murphy (capt), A. Hudson, J. O’Callaghan.
J. Fitzgerald for Hartnett (35), M. Russell for Kelleher, B. Fitzgerald for O’Callaghan, S. Dinan for Bannon (all 40), E. Power for Malone (46).
S. Flannery (MAR).