Tomas Quinlan’s goal-kicking was impeccable and Rob Jermyn’s magnificent double-try contribution was crucial.
But skipper Gerry Hurley, who led his troops to a first three-in-a-row since the 1905-’07 successes, preferred to highlight the never-say-die group attitude that allowed Constitution come back from the brink of defeat to set the platform for scenes of joy after one of the great comebacks for which the club are noted.
Constitution won the title two years ago by snatching victory away from UL Bohemian with a late try. Last year, they plundered a win from Garryowen. This time, despite struggling for periods, they again stood up to be counted late on.
Garryowen might feel aggrieved, but they can’t say they were robbed either.
Garryowen coach Conan Doyle preferred to focus on the positives in his side’ s performance.
“It was disappointing and we shouldn’t have conceded two tries in the last minutes but they got their scores when they needed them and their kicker was spot-on today.
“It was a good game, delighted with our lads. It was tough but a good sign at that level. It was encouraging for us. Con are fourth in Division 1A. Our performance shows we are able to compete at that level. We were the better team for much of the game so hopefully we can push on for the rest of the year.”
Hurley, who also won a fourth medal with Garryowen in his time there, was not surprised with the intensity of the performance from the Limerick side.
Garryowen were arguably the better side in the opening half and for some of the second period too until Con produced what they needed in the last quarter.
Garryowen led 13-6 at the break, the only try coming from their impressive number eight Joshua Hrstich. Jamie Gavin converted and also kicked two penalties to match a couple from Quinlan.
The Con youngster kicked another brace in the early stages of the second half but Gavin responded to put seven between the teams again after 54 minutes.
Jermyns’ first try in 57 minutes was converted by Quinlan to allow Con draw level but Gavin hit back with a penalty after 71 minutes for a 22-19 advantage.
From there, Constitution upped the tempo and winger Jermyn finished a brilliant late attack, before Quinlan’s touchline conversion ensure the 26-22 win.
A relieved Hurley commented: “We respond well to pressure. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. We had lads out there who just never gave in and I think the last effort showed how much the boys wanted to win that trophy. They had the quality to put together the type of play needed to get the vital scores.”
CORK CONSTITUTION: D Lyons, K Desmond, L Duffy, N Kenneally, R Jermyn, T Quinlan, G Hurley (captain), G Duffy, A O’Driscoll, C Crokery, D O’Brien, G Lawlor, C O’Flaherty, J Murphy, L Cahill. Replacements: S Dwyer for O’Brien (40), C Corkery for Slattery (55), M Abbott for O’Driscoll (64), F McSwiney for O’Flaherty (59). Temporary. M Keyes for Quinlan (29-40)
GARRYOWEN: A Wootton, S McMahon, A O’Byrne, J Purcell, J McInerney, J Gavin, J Glynn, B McNamara, E Rossiter, B Rowley, P McCarroll, A McCloskey, M Hanrahan, S Sherry (captain), J Hrstich.
Replacements: R Brosnan for McNamara (55), J M Griffin for Rossiter (58), L Bourke for McCarroll. Temporary, J Keane for McCarroll 10-18.
Referee: E Hogan O’Connell (IRFU).