Slick Crescent champions again after stellar display

CRESCENT College Comprehensive recovered from an indifferent start to stamp their class on this Avonmore Munster Schools Junior Cup at Clifford Park yesterday.

This second successive victory — the first back to back titles in the history of the school — gave them their sixth trophy against local rivals seeking their third cup, and first since 2005.

Crescent’s victory was achieved on the basis of a powerful second-half display that involved both strong forward and skilful back play that ultimately proved too much for their opponents.

From the start, Ard Scoil gave witness to the fact that they weren’t there to make up the numbers. Perhaps the pep talk from former pupil Paul O’Connell helped, but they took the game to Crescent with huge intensity exemplified by immense work from Daniel Wixted and the back row trio of Joe Cannon, Josh O’Halloran and particularly Paul Obande.

Essentially the game was played in Crescent territory and it said much that they survived the pressure due in no small part to some dynamic tackling, with key hits going in from Gearóid Lyons and Jason O’Sullivan when Ard Scoil carved out promising openings.

It took Crescent 20 minutes to mount their first attack and, from it, Lyons was barely off target with a penalty and he subsequently missed a second from a much more difficult angle.

Those lapses could have proved costly and Crescent could hardly quibble when Stephen Fitzgerald kicked the losers into the lead with his first penalty two minutes after the resumption.

Cormac Blake’s promising run from the base of a scrum helped set up a third chance at goal for Crescent, but frustratingly Lyons again failed to find the target, this time pushing his well struck effort just past the far upright.

That frustration was alleviated two minutes later when Crescent forced a mistake in the Ard Scoil defence and utilised the pace of the back line from a scrum five metres out, with full back O’Sullivan unselfishly sending winger Jack Hogan in for a try at the corner, with Lyons finally getting some extra points for a 7-3 lead.

Utilising their forward power, through Blake, Rory Noone, Jay Kavanagh, Mike O’Donnell and Cillian Rea, it was only a matter of time before Crescent’s back division took advantage. Again, O’Sullivan took on the Ard Scoil defence after Greg O’Shea straightened up an attacking move and winger Alan Crean nipped in. Almost as if failure wasn’t an option, Lyons knocked over the conversion from the touch line.

It got better for Crescent when Blake took possession inside his own ‘22 and streaked away up the touch line for a brilliant individual try with a minute left on the clock, although by then the win was already assured following Lyons’ snap drop goal in the 50th minute.

CRESCENT: J O’Sullivan, A Crean, G O’Shea, JJ O’Neill, J Hogan, G Lyons (captain), E Barry, J Tuohy, C Rea, L McMahon, M O’Donnell, J Kavanagh, R Noone, C Blake, J Green.

Replacements: E Parkes for O’Neill (50), M O’Connor for McMahon, C Guerin for Kavanagh, L Russell for Rea (all 56),

ARD SCOIL RIS: B Moriarty, J Walshe, W Leonard, S Fenton, O Lyons, S Fitzgerald, R Deegan (captain), K Brown, K Bracken, J O’Halloran, F Bradshaw Ryan, D Wixted, J Cannon, P Obande, J O’Halloran.

Replacements: J English for O Lyons (53), M Casey for Backen, B Sexton for Ryan (both 55), G Farrell for J O’Halloran, G Brown for Moriarty (both 57).

Referee: O Hodges (M.A.R)

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