O’Callaghan hat-trick inspires Christians to final

Flying left winger Ben O’Callaghan crossed for a superbly taken hat-trick as CBC swept past Castletroy College in yesterday’s semi-final of the Avonmore Munster Schools Junior Cup at Dooradoyle.

Even though Castletroy enjoyed a territorial advantage in the second half, they never looked like upsetting the odds against a well-balanced Christians side who raced into a 19-6 lead at the interval and absorbed the best that the opposition could subsequently throw at them without undue difficulty.

Castletroy opened brightly and were rewarded with a cracking penalty from a 45m by Conor Linehan after five minutes. Christians responded impressively as they claimed quick possession in the left corner and centre Michael Clune jinked his way through for a try, converted by Michael O’Halloran.

A second well-struck penalty by Linehan kept Castletroy in touch but again the Cork side had the appropriate answer. Skipper Greg Roche, second rows Cian Barry and David Lynch and number eight Evan Mintern ensured they remained on the offensive. After 17 minutes. O’Callaghan’s pace and line of running saw him race in for his side’s second try.

Christians third try owed something to fortune. A loose ball broke kindly for full-back Killian Doyle, deep in his own half and he made ground before finding O’Callaghan, who touched down. O’Halloran converted and even though they had been favoured by the breeze, a 19-6 advantage left Christians very much in the driving seat.

Castletroy stepped up appreciably on their earlier form and spent much of the half deep in Christians territory. However, it was the impressive manner in which the Cork boys protected their line that will probably have pleased their backroom team more than anything, with the entire pack and half-backs Michael O’Halloran and Jamie Murphy especially to the fore.

Castletroy’s prospects were not helped when scrum-half Conor Fleming suffered a nasty looking injury that caused play to be stopped for 10 minutes before he was taken from the ground by ambulance.

Skipper Ronan Murphy at number eight did all he could to lift his Castletroy side and unstinting support was always forthcoming from Niall O’Shea on the open side flank and out-half Conor Linehan but Christians dealt comfortably with their best efforts. They turned over possession almost at will and duly lifted the siege in the closing minutes to create space for O’Callaghan to sprint away for his third try that O’Halloran converted.

CBC: K Doyle; D Lee, M Clune, P Hyde, B O’Callaghan; M O’Halloran, J Murphy; C Fitzgerald, V O’Brien, G Roche (capt), D Lynch, C Barry, S O’Hanlon, D Walsh, E Mintern.

Replacements: N Guilfoyle for Barry; S Kennedy for Fitzgerald.

Castletroy: B Donovan; P Morrissey, B Nash, S Hoare, J Porter; C Linehan, C Fleming; E Fitzgerald, L Lyons, M Finucane, J Doyle, T Morrissey, D Rowsome, N O’Shea, R Murphy (capt).

Replacements: R Kennedy for Fleming; M O’Mara for Lyons; E Slattery for Rowsome; D Garry for Porter; D Kennedy for Fitzgerald; S Shinners for Finucane.

Referee: T O’Donoghue (MAR).

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