Rockwell, seeking a third title in succession for the first time in over 50 years, were blown away by the intensity of a fired-up Crescent side who romped to their 10th title with a degree of ease even their staunchest of supporters could hardly have expected.
Crescent dominated the first-half and took advantage of virtually every chance that came their way. They had a good buffer in anticipation of a second-half response from the champions, but that never materialised with Rockwell contributing to their own downfall when reduced to 14 men early in the period.
It was Crescent’s first senior title since 1994, a long lapse by any stretch of the imagination, but it was one of the school’s greatest triumphs, particularly as it will go down as one few expected them to win.
But they certainly delivered, with skipper Gearóid Lyons performing kicking heroics from the tee and from hand, centres J J O’Neill and William Leonard causing considerable problems and winger Greg O’Shea a constant danger. That’s not to mention the magnificence of a pack that took control from the early stages, with the entire back row grouping of Diarmuid Dee, Jack Dinneen and Jay Kavanagh setting the scene and the standards.
Rockwell, through Sonny Dwyer, Aidan Moynihan and Aidan Butler, before injury forced him to retire at the break, did their best but it was always an uphill struggle against a side that was clinical and unforgiving.
First blood went to Crescent from the boot of Lyons, who knocked over a fourth minute penalty off the back of a ruck offence, following an initial break from hooker James Green and further good work from O’Neill and Liam McMahon.
Crescent’s hunger at the breakdown and early turnovers combined to pose problems for the holders, Dee’s strong run forcing the concession of a further penalty and Lyons made no mistake to push the lead out to six after 12 minutes.
Ice cool Lyons, whose injury-time conversion of Greg O’Shea’s try in last week’s semi-final put Crescent into this decider, was again on target when he kicked his third penalty from the touchline after 18 minutes to keep Rockwell very much on the back foot.
However, the Tipperary side did respond and winger David O’Mahony got the try scoring credit — after their first meaningful attack in 26 minutes in which flanker Jimmy Feehan almost made it to the line. When Feehan was halted short, O’Mahony picked up to squeeze in at the corner for the unconverted score.
The pace of the game rarely wavered, and four minutes later Crescent had extended the lead to 11 points. The attacking potential offered through O’Shea and O’Neill bore fruit when the centre was sent in for a try by his winger, and once again Lyons’ accuracy was exceptional as he made it 16-5 to the challengers.
The gloom for Rockwell continued into the second-half when talisman Steve McMahon was sent off for a tip tackle on Crescent centre Leonard. McMahon may have been unfortunate to produce a sloppy challenge, but the incident forced Leonard to retire and referee Kieran Barry showed the full-back a straight red.
With McMahon’s accuracy unerring, Crescent took advantage with a brace of penalties to push the lead out to 22-5 by the 46th minute and force Rockwell into a more desperate form of catch-up.
Reduced in numbers, and in the face of a now rampant Crescent pack, they never had a hope. In fact, they yielded another try 20 minutes into the half when Dee blew the last available defender out of his way to score in the corner. Lyons showed he was human by finally missing a difficult kick but Crescent, at 27-5 were fully in control and on their way to a thoroughly memorable triumph.
CRESCENT COMPREHENSIVE: J Frawley, J O’Sullivan, JJ O’Neill, W Leonard, G O’Shea, G Lyons (captain), G Fitzgerald, S McGee, J Green, L McMahon, J Keane, R Scott, D Dee, J Dinneen, J Kavanagh.
Replacements: J Purcell for Leonard (41, injured), C Blake for McGee, M O’Donnell for Scott (both 47), G Mullins for McMahon, E Casserly for Dinneen, J Leonard for Frawley, E Barry for Fitzgerald, C Rea for Green (all 68).
ROCKWELL: S McMahon, D O’Mahony, S O’Donoghue, R Parata, W Coffey, A Moynihan, B Riley, D O’Connell, S McNulty, J Maxwell, N Flynn, S O’Connor, J Feehan, A Butler (captain), S Dwyer.
Replacements: T Anglim for Butler (half-time), A Horgan for Flynn (47), A McMahon for Riley (59), R Horgan for Moynihan (62), E Mulcahy for O’Donoghue (70)
Referee: K Barry (M.A.R).