Pack power gets Munchin’s over the line

St Munchin’s dominated territorially and were by far the greater physical force, yet they were fully extended to overcome Limerick city rivals Ardscoil Rís in the quarter-final of the Avonmore Milk Munster Senior Schools Cup at Clifford Park yesterday.

St Munchin’s now meet the winners of next Wednesday’s replay between Glenstal and PBC, but will need to improve appreciably to progress to the decider.

They had wind assistance in the opening half and when they mauled their way over the Ardscoil line from 30 metres for a try credited to Matthew McSweeney after five minutes, it looked as if they were headed for a clear-cut victory.

However, a tendency to kick for field position and an over-reliance on a much stronger pack meant that they were unable to add to that advantage, even though Ardscoil Rís hardly encroached into the St Munchin’s half for the entire 35 minutes.

The powerful Ryan triplets Evan, Gavin and Darren, in each row of the scrum, could not be blamed for Munchins’ failure to make a greater impression on the scoreboard.

The trio, along with skipper Lee Nicholas, ensured they remained completely on top.

However, a five point advantage at the break looked precarious as they turned to face the wind.

However, Munchin’s again started the half in blistering fashion and when Evan Ryan finished off a powerfulattack up the right flank within six minutes of the restart and Shane Airey converted with a fine kick, they again appeared to be very much in thedriving seat.

However, Ardscoil battled on and the mighty efforts of number eight and captain Ciaran Power, DavidO’Halloran and Paul Obande gave them a reasonable degree of possession.

Out-half Robbie Burke allied a shrewd tactical approach to a mighty left boot and Ardscoil duly achieved a decent degree of field position.

Ardscoil hopes were raised when Burke knocked over a close range penalty on 55 minutes and battle was really re-ignited when he landed a beauty from the halfway line with six minutes on the clock.

But Munchin’s played out the remaining time with their pack retaining their edge and Airey using the ball intelligently and productively throughout.

ST MUNCHIN’S: C O’Donnell; E O’Keeffe, D Goggin, T O’Neill, D Morrissey; S Airey, B Nugent; E Kelly, L O’Halloran, E Ryan, G Ryan, M McSweeney, G Powell, D Ryan, L Nicholas (capt).

Replacements: D O’Burne for E Ryan (40, inj); J Clancy for O’Donnell (56); D Montgomery for O’Halloran (62).

ARDSCOIL RÍS: R McKenna; R Deegan, A O’Byrne, D Kelly, C Ryan; R Burke, J Murray; T Cusack, D O’Shea, C Glynn, P Obande, P Kearns C Irwin, D O’Halloran C Power (capt).

Replacements: C Noonan for Murray (45); C Flanagan for O’Shea (58); L Guinane for Cusack (61).

Referee: K Barry (IRFU).

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