Midleton College 6Ardscoil Rís 13
MIDLETON COLLEGE learned a harsh lesson about the fine margins of sport as Ardscoil Rís escaped East Cork with a last-gasp Avonmore Milk Munster Senior Schools Cup qualifier victory yesterday.
Having pulled back a six-point deficit to level it with 15 minutes to go, Midleton smelt blood in the closing minutes.
But Rory Hurley’s drop-goal attempt missed the target, and Ardscoil finally found the gaps in the outside channels they’d threatened to exploit all day, centre Robbie Deegan dummying his way over from 30 metres out in the final minute of normal time.
Ardscoil’s next opponents, CBC Cork, won’t be running scared on the basis of this performance but the Limerick school deserve credit for sticking to their task despite often falling foul of referee Chris Harrington.
They had a superb counter-attacking full-back in Ronan McKenna and authority at 10 from Robbie Burke, while Conor Glynn — who put in stints at blindside flanker and in the front row — led the forward charge.
Their pressure yielded three penalty chances for Burke in the opening 18 minutes. He failed to get hold of the first of those but landed two beauties from tricky angles to give his side a tenuous 6-0 lead.
But Ardscoil’s breakdown work began to let them down thereafter — with a number of promising lineout opportunities spurned too — allowing Midleton to edge their way back into the contest in the second period.
Stuart O’Sullivan and Thomas Turkington carried powerfully while the Colton brothers, Adam and Andrew, did the dirty work close-in as they eked out a pair of penalty opportunities which Munster Schools captain Ned Hodson — who had nudged a previous chance wide just before half-time — converted to level it with 15 minutes to go.
That was the signal for both sides to take more risks in search of a match-winning score. But it was Midleton’s defence who blinked first, standing off Deegan after he’d been sent into space by Burke. His deception skills were on the money and he crossed near the posts with Burke converting.
Ardscoil still had to face a three-minute Midleton onslaught, but their fringe defence and discipline held out in admirable style to advance to a last-eight meeting with CBC at a Cork venue on February 1.
MIDLETON COLLEGE: B Mitchell; O Brennan, B Moore, N Hodson (capt), C Simpson; R Hurley, A Simonin; M Twomey, R Steele, T Turkington; A Pennington, Adam Colton; Andrew Colton, G Chambers, S O’Sullivan.
Replacements: S England for Chambers (46); L Deane for Andrew Colton (67).
ARDSCOIL RIS: R McKenna; C Mulqueen; R Deegan, D Kelly, E O’Callaghan; R Burke, J Murray; T Cusack, D O’Shea, L McMahon; P Kearns, C Irwin; C Glynn, D O’Halloran, C Power.
Replacements: P Obande for McMahon (h/t); L Guinane for Cusack (61), F Bradshaw Ryan for Irwin (65).
Referee: C Harrington (MAR).