Displaying opportunism and patience, Christians outscored their Limerick rivals three tries to one, the third from a game-killer intercept, to secure their first win at this level since 2012.
For Crescent, it was a third successive tumble at the final hurdle.
A delighted Christians head coach Tommy Crowe admitted it had not been at all easy. “We’re delighted to come and play here at Thomond Park, and delighted to take a cup back to Cork. These guys had some heartbreak in the last year. They lost a McCarthy Cup final, they felt that hurt, they were waiting for this chance and we’re happy to have them come out ahead.
“Full credit to Crescent, it was an unbelievable game. It was a great game of rugby and right in the melting pot until the last 10 minutes. We got another bit of luck with an intercept. We had that luck in the semi-final, but we’ll take that luck when it comes.”
Christians led 15-3 at the break but it was a lead that was, arguably, somewhat flattering. There was never too much between the sides in that opening 30 save for the art of finishing. On each of the three occasions that Christians put heavy territorial pressure on Crescent, they came away with the spoils, first with a penalty from skipper Eoin Monahan, then with tries from Robert Loftus and Robert Hedderman, the first converted by Monahan.
The Loftus try in 13 minutes was typical of the type Christians had scored in the earlier rounds, using their powerful forwards to grind down the opposition. Tight-head Loftus got his moment of glory courtesy of some earlier donkey work from fellow prop Luke Masters.
The second try in the 24th minute was quite different because, while Masters made an initial thrust off a line out, the ball was swept out through the hands and full back Hedderman joined just at the right time before stopping, turning and twisting over for the unconverted try. Crescent’s only first-half points came from the boot of out-half John Hurley who kicked a 23rd minute penalty.
To their credit, Crescent dominated much of the second-half until conceding a late, game-clinching try to the Cork side. Goal kicker Hurley missed a 34th-minute penalty opportunity but helped push his side right back into contention when he swept in for an excellent try under the posts and he added the conversion to peg the Christians lead back to five points.
Crescent continued to look for defensive weaknesses out wide but a couple of very promising moves broke down because of handling errors.
One could sense the frustration creeping in and Christians must have seen it too. Monahan’s clever cross field kick found Daniel Galvin but the winger was unable to control possession and the chance was lost.
Galvin’s subsequent dynamic break from broken play did set Christians up with territorial advantage and Crescent contributed to their own downfall when they tried to run a penalty from inside their ’22.
J D O’Hea was waiting for the error and he intercepted to race away for a score at the posts with Monahan kicking the conversion to push the winning lead out to 22-10.
Head coach Ed Barry from Crescent expressed his disappointment but promised Crescent would re-group and come again from this defeat. “The lads put in a super effort and I guess on the day some of our handling errors let us down, but we went out to play rugby, never gave up and the boys will be back.”
CBC: R Hedderman, C Shalloe, JD O’Hea, E Barrett, D Galvin, E Monahan (captain), C Sisk, L Masters, D O’Connor, R Loftus, E Doyle, A Ryan, R Barry, F Burke, B Roche.
Replacements: E Moloney for Barrett (40), P Harrington for Loftus (49), L McCartthy for O’Connor (59)
CRESCENT COMPREHENSIVE: A Cosgrave, C Cusack, T O’Hora, N O’Sullivan (Captain), C Philips, J Hurley, M Edwards, C Dennehy, E O’Halloran, D Nevin, P King, F Coleman, K Moloney, J Hennessy, D Feasey.
Replacements: S Burton for King (40, inj), M Fenton for Cusack, Ben Leahy for Moloney, C Fitzgerald for Nevin, D Shaw Kelly for Feasey (all 59)
Referee: K Barry (IRFU).