The Tipperary school will meet the winners of today’s second semi-final between PBC and St Munchin’s and, based on yesterday’s performance, will take a lot of beating.
The ingredients for success was typical of good quality teams; a well marshalled defence, intense when on the back foot allied to an ability to seize scoring opportunities.
Rockwell were, overall, the more clinical of the two sides and there wasn’t an awful lot the Cork side could do to change that.
A tough opening quarter was marked by territorial dominance for Christians, who had wind advantage, but scoring opportunities were confined to a drop goal attempt by Dave O’Riordan and one sniping run from his half-back partner Charlie O’Regan as the Rockwell defence stood firm, even though they had suffered some physical pain at scrum time.
Christians dominated territorially but continuously came up against a well organised Rockwell defence. It didn’t help that O’Riordan sent a second penalty attempt to the left and wide after 29 minutes.
They paid dearly for that, with Rockwell launching their first major offensive in the dying minutes of the half and winger Alex Lynch, prospering from a brilliant break by Rob Jermyn, was denied when he lost the ball and conceded a defensive scrum to Christians.
But Rockwell made far better use of position than Christians and went ahead in injury time with a brilliant try from winger Steve McMahon who was sent in by Cillian Kiely. Aidan Moynihan’s conversion effort drifted left and wide.
Although Christians produced some positive rugby in the opening exchanges of the second-half, with Charlie Slowey, Rory Daly, Darragh Moloney and particularly Mike Ryan pulling the strings, but Rockwell rode out the storm again before establishing the type of territorial control they would have expected with wind advantage.
Sixteen minutes in, Moynihan kicked a crucial penalty from the 22, after full-back David Johnston and Jermyn had done the damage in putting the Christians defence under pressure. From there, Rockwell grew in confidence, the pack maximising potential from the pick and drive and through a powerful maul, with captain Sean McCarthy, hooker Darragh Mulcahy and flanker Sonny O’Dwyer inevitably to the fore. And it got better when Moynihan knocked over his second penalty for an 11-0 advantage with 11 minutes left.
It didn’t matter that his long range effort five minutes from time drifted away to the left. By then Christians were a spent force as the minutes ticked by with no apparent way of getting a foothold for long enough in Rockwell’s defensive zone.
CBC: T Quinlan, G Ryan, T Morehead, J McCarthy, C McAuliffe, D O’Riordan (captain), C O’Regan, C Slowey, R Daly, R Burke, T Arrigan, D Moloney, A Mintern, D Stokes, M Ryan.
Replacements: A McCarthy for Stokes (half time), R Foley for O’Regan (53), M Lordan for Daly (60), R O’Dowling for Arrigan (62), S Galvin for Burke (67), D Fitzgerald for Moloney (70).
ROCKWELL: D Johnston, A Lynch, R Jermyn, C Kiely, S McMahon, A Moynihan, D McGagh, J McCormack, D Mulcahy, J Maxwell, S McCarthy (captain), D Foley, A Sweeney, A Butler, S Dwyer.
Replacements: N Flynn for Foley (47), J Feehan for Sweeney (56), R Lyons for McCormack (65), S McNulty for Maxwell, W O’Dwyer for Mulcahy, A Barron for McGagh, S O’Donoghue for Kiely, R Maher for Lynch (all 70).
Referee: E Hogan-Connell (MAR).