Cahill, a member of the IRFU’s U19 national talent squad was the fulcrum for everything good the Tipperary nursery did in this one-sided Avonmore Munster Senior Schools Cup qualifier at Bandon RFC yesterday.
Rockwell had the game sewn up before half-time, scoring all but five of their 31 points against a game Bandon Grammar outfit.
Bandon knew they had to keep things tight early on and use the boot of accomplished pivot Darren Sweetnam to frustrate a fancied Rockwell side — so shipping a soft try inside three minutes was not part of the plan.
That score came from Rockwell out-half David Johnson, a try under the posts converted by half-back Brian Haugh.
Losing influential scrum-half Jack Robinson to injury after 13 minutes didn’t help the cause, but Bandon’s tackling was excellent, with skipper Sam Hunter and back-row colleague Peter Deane leading the charge to force turnovers and mistakes.
They also tried to play a bit with the rare chances they had to give their backs some ball, but when Sweetnam’s chip over the Rockwell rush defence inside his own half was not gathered, Cahill took centre stage. He appeared early in the move to bust some holes in the Bandon rearguard, before turning up on the wing and shaking off three tackles to touch down in the corner for a quality, unconverted score on 27 minutes.
The mission for Bandon was now to keep the score to 12-0 before half-time, but Rockwell had other ideas. Cahill reacted first when the ball squirted out the side of a Bandon scrum, and deftly off-loaded to blindside flanker Dick Moran to charge over. Haugh converted and then orchestrated the best period of continuity in the match, as Rockwell off-loaded slickly and recycled fast through 10 phases.
Bandon couldn’t put out all the fires and Johnson repeated his earlier effort by sailing through a gap to touch down. Haugh’s impressive conversion pushed Rockwell out to 26-0 and fears of a second-half massacre arose.
But to Bandon’s credit, they refused to fold and successfully frustrated Rockwell — who began to empty their bench and saw their sharpness suffer as a result — with wing Peter Good particularly impressive.
A yellow card for Rockwell wing Shaun Horgan, the result of a dangerous tackle on lively Bandon wide man Mighty Okafor, failed to dim the visitors’ ambition. But too often the final pass went to ground.
They added a fifth try in the dying minutes when Cathal Ryan ploughed over from close range.
Scorers for Rockwell College: D Johnson 2 tries; C Ryan, L Cahill, D Moran try each; B Haugh 3 cons.
BANDON GRAMMAR: C Moloney; M Okafor, C Pringle, S Good, P Good; D Sweetnam, J Robinson; E Crowley, N Willoughby, R Bateman; E Tyrrell, PJ Hegarty; S Hunter (capt), R Kingston, P Deane.
Replacements: G Peevers for Robinson (13, inj), B Miller for Tyrrell (41), I Walters for Bateman (50), E O’Driscoll for Deane (65, inj).
ROCKWELL COLLEGE: D McGillicuddy; S Horgan, H McNulty, C Kiely, R Jermyn; D Johnson, B Haugh; C O’Donnell, D Mulcahy, MJ Murphy; A O’Sullivan, N Flynn; D Moran, S Dwyer, L Cahill.
Replacements: E Phelan for O’Donnell, A Lynch for McNulty (both 45), D Kennedy for Murphy (55), A Sweeney for Cahill (50), L McGrane for Haugh, R Maher for Horgan, C Ryan for Kiely (all 61).
Referee: C McTaggert (MAR).