It wasn’t always easy but the power and strength of the Pres pack ultimately proved decisive on a heavy pitch that certainly didn’t lend itself to expansive rugby.
On a day when, even in a dominant pack, heroes were at a premium, Pres No.8 Cathal O’Flaherty was the star and provided the inspiration for a crucial second-half try to finally put a bit of daylight between the sides.
As Pres move on knowing that there is room for improvement, Ard Scoil will console themselves in the knowledge that they have another chance when they meet Rockwell by going through the back door system.
Their coach Martin McPhail had every reason to feel proud of his charges, who had to fight a rearguard battle for much of the 70 minutes and only capitulated when conceding that 50th-minute converted try.
“This is a team that’s only in the building stage and we’re just not quite there yet, but they showed, each and every one of them, that there is huge heart; in the position we were in we just looked for a bounce here and there but none came our way,” said McPhail.
“We won’t be completely delighted with that performance either because we made a lot of mistakes, so there could be more to come from the players, and hopefully they will produce it the next day.”
Having watched his pack dish out considerable punishment without lavish return on the board, the Pres coach Peter Scott was content enough, given, as he explained, his team had little enough adequate preparation in the last number of weeks.
“This is the cup and the game was in Limerick; it wasn’t the best day for playing rugby and we have had only one and a half games in six weeks, something I feel was reflected in the performance.
“Conditions were difficult and in a cup game you tend to force things; guys then make mistakes and to be absolutely fair to Ard Scoil their work rate was phenomenal.
“They got into the areas out wide and I suppose we allowed them to prosper in defence because we got a bit greedy trying to bash our way through when there could have been space elsewhere,” he added.
Pres enjoyed the better of the first half exchanges after surviving an early penalty scare that Ard Scoil out-half Jamie Gavin missed.
Immediately, an opening attack by the Cork side yielded a penalty chance to Sean Óg Murphy and he made no mistake from out wide.
Thereafter, Pres cranked up the pressure and held a strong territorial advantage; unfortunately their finishing failed to match some excellent approach work and they had to wait until the half-hour mark for Murphy to add to the score with a second penalty.
The Cork side continued to enjoy plenty of possession but also continued to make handling errors before they finally came good 14 minutes into the second half, when the highly impressive O’Flaherty made 30 metres from the base of a scrum and sent Daniel Horgan scampering in for a try under the posts, with Murphy adding the conversion for a 13-0 lead.
Gavin finally put his side on the scoreboard with a penalty, but Pres remained in control and had the last word from Murphy with his third penalty in the 69th minute.
PBC: S Glynn; R Cullinane, J Costigan, D Horgan, R Caplice; S Óg Murphy, R Barry; C Keane, B Vaughan, N Scannell (capt); R O’Herlihy, D O’Mahony; B Carroll, C O’Flaherty, J Duffy.
Replacements: E Dennehy for Caplice (55), K Ryan for Duffy (60), B Coughlan for Keane, B Scott for Vaughan (both 65), E Mills for Murphy, E O’Shaughnessy for Barry (both 67).
ARD SCOIL RÍS: K Phelan; M Russell, J McGarry (capt), E Commane, R Collins; J Gavin, A Griffin; D Kenny, M Fitzgibbon, R McMahon; S Brinn, P O’Sullivan; J O’Toole, P McGann, K Walsh.
Replacements: S McCarthy for Fitzgibbon, C McLoughlin for Russell (both 43), S Keane for McMahon, E Farrell for Griffin (both 60).
Referee: G English (MAR).