Fancied Ardscoil Rís got their Munster Schools Senior Cup campaign off to a winning start, recording a hard-fought, 21-13, first-round victory over city rivals St Munchin’s College at Thomond Park yesterday.
Ardscoil’s Rís’s quick-fire start, which yielded 12 unanswered points inside the opening 20 minutes, proved crucial. However, Ardscoil had to repel a fiercely-determined challenge from St Munchin’s College as they repeated their semi-final success of last season over the same opponents
On a bitterly cold day, St Munchin’s College dominated possession for the opening 10 minutes, but were unable to convert their superiority into points, despite the best efforts of impressive team captain John Foley, at number eight, second row Liam O’Dwyer, prop Peter Meyer and hooker Jordan Prendiville.
And Munchin’s paid a heavy price for that when Ardscoil struck for the game’s opening try. Centre Peader Collins intercepted a pass deep inside his own 22, on 12 minutes, before racing the length of the pitch to score.
While out-half Conor Fitzgerald was off target with the conversion, it wasn’t long before Ardscoil doubled their advantage.
A slick backline move saw Fitzgerald and try-scorer Collins create the opening for centre Jack O’Donnell to touch down. Out-half Fitzgerald made no mistake with the conversion.
Trailing by 12 points, St Munchin’s desperately needed to get points on the board before half-time.
To their credit, the 2012 Senior Cup finalists fought back with scrum-half Briain Bennett landing two smashing penalty goals in the 23rd and 31st minutes. Trailing 6-12 at half-time, St Munchin’s remained very much in the contest.
However, it was the Mossie Lawler-coached Ardscoil Rís side which gained the crucial opening score of the second period when out-half Fitzgerald, a Limerick minor hurler in 2014, kicked his first penalty to stretch his side’s advantage to 15-6.
St Munchin’s responded and prop Peter Meyer powered over after a great drive. Bennett’s conversion drew St Munchin’s to within two points, 13-15.
But clinical Ardscoil Ris upped their work-rate in the final 15 minutes and a second penalty goal from Fitzgerald in the 57th minute gave them some breathing space at 18-13.
Play-maker Fitzgerald sealed the victory for his side when landing his third penalty goal with the final kick of the contest.
Ardscoil Ris’ reward for this opening day win is a home quarter-final clash with CBC. St Munchin’s have a second opportunity to make the semi-finals when travelling to face Rockwell College for a quarter-final clash next month.
Ardscoil scorers: P Collins, J O’Donnell try each, C Fitzgerald three pens, 1 con.
St Munchin’s scorers: P Meyer try, B Bennett two pens, 1 con.
ARDSCOIL RÍS: D Gavin; L Brock, J O’Donnell, P Collins, M McMenamy; C Fitzgerald, H Bourke; P Lyons, T Chan (capt), T Walsh; B O’Byrne, R Coffey; O Bernard, J McCabe, D Ryan.
Replacements used: E Cusack for Gavin, N Randles for Brock, I Brown for McCabe.
ST MUNCHIN’S COLLEGE: M Browne; M Lyons, E O’Connor, J O’Curry, J O’Hanlon; J Kiely, B Bennett; P Meyer, J Prendiville, E O’Callaghan; S Corbett, L O’Dwyer; A Moloney, C Carmody, J Foley (Capt).
Replacements used: J Burke for Carmody, C Wells for O’Callaghan, A Fitzgerald for Corbett, A Rice for Kiely, S Kelly for Browne.
Referee: M Connolly (IRFU)