Christians now look a very sound bet for a first title since 2009 with a side that combines strength and forcefulness up front with speed and guile behind. Three of yesterday’s four tries were skilfully executed and they could have had at least two or three more were it not for some outstanding defensive work by Ardscoil.
This point was well made after five minutes when towering full-back Liam Coombes looked certain to score in the right corner after a sparkling Christian attack only for Nathan Randles to make his way from the far wing and bring off a superb try-saving tackle.
The Cork side had good reason to remember Conor Fitzgerald, who knocked them out of the competition last year with a last-minute penalty kick. This time he opened up their defence to score between the posts and convert to put Ardscoil seven points in front after 17 minutes.
However, Christians hit back five minutes later when Coombes and Alex McHenry combined to send scrum-half Richard Cassidy in for a fine try in the left corner. Fitzgerald landed a penalty to push the Limerick side 10-5 in front at the interval, their prospects considerably enhanced with Christians number eight and captain Daire Feeney in the sin bin.
However, there were no further scores with Feeney off the pitch and he was no sooner back in the action when the ball was knocked from his grasp as he dived to score.
But Christians were not to be denied, James Taylor going over for a classic out-half try at the posts after a powerful maul. Taylor added the points.
Ardscoil’s response was superb as they regained possession from the restart and set up a splendid attack that ended with a try by left wing Darren Gavin.
Taylor quickly had Christians on terms at 15-all with a penalty and the tempo never relented. McHenry displayed delightful sleight of hand in sending Ian Casey over in the left corner.
Taylor’s conversion attempt struck an upright but he quickly added a penalty to make it 23-15 before an Ardscoil defensive error opened the way for an opportunist try by replacement JD O’Hea that removed any further doubt.
L Coombes; B Galvin, J Harrington, A McHenry, I Casey; J Taylor, R Cassidy; J Humphries, G Good, C Leahy, R Thompson, S Duffy, R O’Neill, R Hyde, D Feeney capt.
C McHugh for Humphries 41; JD O’Hea for Harrington 45; S Bushe for Good 47; P Kelleher for Leahy 70; D Barry for O’Neill 68; C Sisk for Cassidy 70.
E Cusack; N Randles, P Ryan, P Collins capt, D Gavin; C Fitzgerald, C Casey; M Scallon, C Slater, J McCarthy, C Cannon, D O’Grady, O Bernard, L Clohessy, O Ring.
M McMenamy for Cusack and J Ryan for Cannon both 59; C Madden for Randles 65.
G Clancy (IRFU).