In doing so, they joined CBC at the top of the roll of honour and richly deserved to do. They took control as early as the third minute with a beautifully-executed try and although Rockwell gave them many worrying moments, there was no doubting the more controlled and efficient side in a sporting, enjoyable and well-refereed decider came out on top.
Whereas Rockwell looked a little overawed in the opening stages, Pres clicked into top gear and struck for a quick lead when, after a series of concerted attacks, they carved the opposition open and centre Daniel Horgan coasted through for a try that out-half Séan Óg Murphy converted.
It was the Tipperary team’s second successive defeat in the final and they will be disappointed at failing to produce their best on the biggest day of all. They had individual talent to burn but not the all-round strength and teamwork of the new champions.
The Pres pack, with co-captains Niall Scannell and David O’Mahony, Cathal O’Flaherty and Jack Duffy (later awarded the ‘Avonmore Super Hero’) ensured that they capitalised on such a great start and never subsequently lost their grip.
To their credit, Rockwell probably made the greater number of line breaks due to the tireless and skilful efforts of JJ Hanrahan at out-half, the brave Brian O’Rahilly at full-back and the powerful back-row pair Shane Buckley and Luke Cahill but there was always the feeling that Pres could raise their game when the need arose.
Hanrahan did reduce Rockwell’s arrears with a penalty after 13 minutes and two further dangerous attacks were spoiled by a lack of discipline at crucial moments. They were the kinds of mistakes that Pres largely avoided and they resumed control with a penalty by Murphy on the stroke of half-time when they led 10-3, a hugely promising situation given that they would have the meaningful breeze at their backs on the resumption.
They duly retained the initiative on the resumption and O’Flaherty came within inches of a spectacular try after a powerful, mazy run from 40 yards.
After Rockwell’s Hanrahan missed a penalty from 35 yards, he and his midfield runners got into a muddle on the hour, leaving Horgan to intercept and coast home from 40 yards for a try at the posts that Murphy converted.
Although this was a shattering blow and effectively ended their hopes of a 24th title, Rockwell, didn’t give up the fight and after a strong forward surge, they created a gap through which the highly promising Hanrahan glided for a try that he converted himself.
With their lead cut to seven points, Pres might well have become nervy and uncertain but the opposite was actually the case and it came as no surprise when replacement Killian Kingston went in for their third try on 67 minutes to put the issue beyond doubt.
The new trophy, donated this year by Munster Rugby chief executive Garrett Fitzgerald, was presented to the PBC co-captains Niall Scannell and David O’Mahony.
Coach Peter Scott explained how this unusual situation came about: “We have a democratic way of deciding it,” he said.
“The players pick the captain and they voted and it was a draw. They voted a second time and again it was a draw. So we felt the only thing to do was choose both of them and they were fantastic captains and I’m delighted for both of them.”
PBC: S. Glynn; R. Caplice, J. Costigan, D. Horgan, E. Dennehy; S. Og Murphy, R. Barry; C. Keane, B. Vaughan, N. Scannell co-capt, R. O’Herlihy, D. O’Mahony co-capt, B. Carroll, J. Duffy, C. O’Flaherty.
Replacements: R. Murphy for Carroll 50 mins; K. Kingston for Keane 60; E. Mills for Glynn, R. Cullinane for Caplice, B. Scott for Scannell, B. Coughlan for Vaughan, E. O’Shaughnessy for |Barry, all 70.
ROCKWELL: B. O’Rahilly; S. Horgan, H. McNulty, D. McGillicuddy, R. Mullane; J.J. Hanrahan, T. Rafferty; T. Doyle, R. Moran, C. O’Donnell, S. McCarthy, S. McGuire, S. Buckley capt, J. Meagher, L. Cahill.
Replacement: B. Haugh for Rafferty 60.
Referee: Leo Colgan (MAR).