Injury-struck Presentation lost key players over the last few weeks and suffered another major blow before kick off when star flanker Paul Derham was forced out with back trouble.
The disruption of the forward unit against a magnificently drilled and powerful St Munchin’s pack proved too much for the Cork team, who suffered in the set-pieces and had little answer to a quality maul that would have done justice to many more experienced teams.
The upshot was that the Pres back division saw too little of the ball and their strongest runners had to spend too much time without ball in hand.
“They came with a very good game plan and carried it out very effectively,” said Pres coach Peter Scott. “They deserved their win and we wish them luck in the final.”
St Munchin’s struck first inside 10 minutes when prop forward Eoghan Kelly finished off a period of intense pressure when ploughing over for a try that Shane Airey converted. Pres had their share of possession and pressure immediately afterwards but went through 19 phases without success before conceding a penalty inches from the St Munchin’s line.
They got a decent reward for their endeavour, however, when Seamus Glynn was sent in for a brilliant try after a sensational weaving run by Rory Scannell, who also nailed the conversion to put his side back on level terms.
It probably helped that St Munchin’s captain Lee Nicholas was on the sidelines at the time having been sin-binned.
Inevitably, the wind advantage enjoyed by the Limerick side played a big role in what part of the pitch the game was played in; Pres had to fight a rearguard action from there on and conceded a second try, with Dan Goggin sending winger Edward O’Keeffe in for an unconverted 35th-minute score to tee the match up nicely for the second half.
A third-minute penalty from Scannell cut the gap to two and intensified the effort from the Cork side, but they found St Munchin’s in no mood to yield.
The concession of three successive penalties didn’t help their cause. Indeed they were fortunate not to concede a 57th-minute try when Nicholas was denied by putting a foot in touch but the Limerick outfit didn’t have to wait long to reap the reward for forward pressure, with prop Kelly putting the finishing touches to another attack from a maul.
Pres were left staring defeat in the face yet again at 10-17, although Scannell’s 64th-minute penalty narrowed the gap to four. They did their best to make up the deficit but really didn’t have enough quality possession to play with.
The closest they came was when centre Cian Murphy was hauled down five metres out and lost possession, St Munchin’s using their physicality to play their way to safety.
PBC: B Crowley, J Barrett, S Glynn, C Murphy, P O’Brien, R Scannell, P O’Leary, A Slattery, M Abbott, D Hartnett, R McCarthy, R Callanan, I Silke, J Fitzgerald (capt), K Farmer.
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, E Nugent, L Nicholas (cap), D Ryan.
Replacements: D O’Byrne for Ryan (37), G Powell for McSweeney, J Clancy for Morrissey (both 66).
Referee: D McCormack (M.A.R.).