Given that they scored the game’s two tries, Garryowen were worthy winners of the trophy for the 38th time and their first since 2007 but Bruff will rue their failure to turn territorial supremacy to advantage. They also scorned a few chances of kicking for goal as they went for tries. Yet the tries failed to materialise through their own shortcomings combined with the stout defence presented by a Garryowen side that was desperate not to lose in the final for a second successive year.
Forward supremacy has traditionally proved crucial in the Munster Cup and Bruff had forwards of the quality of player/coach Peter Malone, John Shine, David Horan and Cathal O’Regan carrying the fight to Garryowen but in the end had to accept defeat.
In contrast, Garryowen struggled up front in spite of the best efforts of veteran Paul Neville, Frank McKenna, Mark Melbourne and Le Meki Viapula, but their backs were a lot speedier and streetwise and that told in the outstanding manner in which they claimed their two tries.
Furthermore, skipper Conan Doyle did a fine job at number 10 in place of the unavailable Declan Cusack, having moved from centre to fill the all-important out-half berth and the pace of try scorers Ronan O’Mahony and Corey Hircock did the rest.
An early Fergal Lawlor penalty gave Garryowen the momentum they needed. Their prospects were further helped when left wing Ronan O’Mahony combined speed with a discreet little push in the back of a Bruff defender to grab a well-taken try in the corner, and even though Lawlor missed the conversion, he stretched his side’s lead to 11 points with a second penalty on 16 minutes.
Bruff narrowed the gap with a Brian Cahill penalty but failed to capitalise on the increasing dominance of the pack and had to settle for 11-3 arrears at the interval.
Heroic Garryowen defence in the early stages of the second half just about kept Bruff at bay and even though Cahill narrowed the gap to five points, the decisive score came in the 64th minute.
Garryowen centre Corey Hircock jinked to cut inside on receiving possession just inside his own half before cleverly switching direction to outpace the Bruff defence and race home for a superb try from 60 metres. A late Lawlor try put the issue beyond doubt even though Bruff were still swarming over the opposition line when the final whistle blew.
BRUFF: A Cashman; M. Cosgrave, B Cahill, J Carroll, T O’Callaghan; T Cahill, E Maher; D Horan, C O’Regan, S Foster, M. O’Connell, A Burke, P Malone, J Shine, M Carroll.
Replacements: J Hogan, G Collins, B Morrissey, P Cleary, G Leonard, P O’Brien, N O’Riordan.
GARRYOWEN: L Bourke; R O’Mahony, I Hanley, C Hircock, A Gaughan; C Doyle, F Lawlor; J P Cooney, J Rael, D Lavery, F McKenna, M Melbourne, P Neville, K O’Gorman, L Viapula.
Replacements: A McMahon, M Kennedy, A Kennedy, S Buckley, C Hartigan, N Cronin, A O’Loughlin.
Referee: F Butler (IRFU).