This time, at Musgrave Park, it was sweet revenge as Castletroy deservedly created history by winning the title for the first time. In the process, they gave a huge boost to their senior colleagues who face CBC in Monday’s decider.
Credit is due to Pres for soaking up the intense pressure that the physically superior Castletroy pack produced — mainly through the powerful surges from number eight Enda Carroll, flanker Michael Dooley (hat-trick try hero) and second row Kevin Reale.
But the former champions were always brave and boosted by the return from injury of Ross Caplice, the presence of wily captain Ryan Murphy and the boundless energy of hooker Dylan Malone, they fronted up all day.
Pres responded to every score from Castletroy in the first half; they even took the lead in the second and, after falling behind they had the spirit and energy to launch that late offensive through a back division that prospered more and more from the influence of second row Greg O’Mahony.
Victorious coach James Collins said he hoped the win would be a source of inspiration for Monday’s senior clash: “It was a great occasion, a great day for the school and I felt it was an excellent final played in the right spirit by two very determined teams.”
Darren Nolan kicked Castletroy into the lead with a straight-forward penalty after his side worked their way down the pitch from the opening kick off, but Pres responded immediately to take a penalty chance from Eamon Mills.
Castletroy owned possession but found the Pres defence in stubborn mood. The minutes ticked by without a score but Castletroy were unfortunate not to have scored tries in the 13th and 15th minutes, with winger James O’Sullivan bundled into touch and then Michael Dooley dropping the ball close to the line.
It continued to prove frustrating for Castletroy until Dooley finally ploughed over for a deserved try. However, Pres came storming back to score a smashing try very much against the run of play.
It was created mainly by out half Mills with a nice break and then, following interchange with Chris Bannon, a kick to the corner. Pres won the line out and eventually surged in for the score by O’Mahony near the posts. Mills added the extra points.
He couldn’t do the same again three minutes into the second half, but Pres can bask in the satisfaction of scoring a marvellous try. Ross Caplice, whose fitness was in doubt right up to kick off, nearly got in but still managed to feed the ball back to allow Malone to grab the unconverted try for a 15-8 lead.
The lead lasted barely five minutes before Castletroy, spurred on by their powerful pack, got back on level terms with a try from Dooley following eight successive pick and drives. Nolan added to points to tie the game up.
It got better for the Limerick side, who powered over for a third try after 22 minutes, Dooley getting the touch for the third time and Nolan kicking another conversion to secure a seven points lead.
S. Glynn, M. O’Leary, R. Cullinane, C. Bannon, B. O’Sullivan, E. Mills, M. Kelleher, B. Scott, D. Malone, S. Randles, D. Hartnett, G. O’Mahony, R. Murphy (captain), A. Hudson, R. Caplice.
J. O’Callaghan for Hartnett, E. Power for Malone (both 39), M. Russell for Kelleher (43), F. Dineen for Randles (47), B. Fitzgerald for Caplice, S. Dinan for Bannon, D. Horgan for Scott (all 55).
J. O’Sullivan, D. Nolan, G. Barrett, E. Clancy, S. Droog, A. Fullen, N. Cronin (captain), G. Egliston, E. Murphy, C. Clancy, K. Reale, D. O’Brien, M. Dooley, E. Carroll, C. Bonfil.
D. McCormack (M.A.R).