What counts is they are champions this morning, and they achieved it in impressive fashion in an exciting showpiece at Musgrave Park yesterday. Yes, Crescent produced the only try of the game. Yes, Christians had to defend with their lives in a pulsating last 10 minutes, but this was a victory for hard work and refusal to surrender in testing circumstances.
Christians will thank out half James Taylor, who kept his nerve to knock over three penalty goals — the third a beauty to give his side the lead for the first time.
But if Taylor gets the nod for his scoring contribution, Christians supporters were full of praise for second-row Andrew Thompson who crucially intervened for an intercept to deny Crescent a late try.
Crescent produced the better moments behind the scrum and there can be no faulting skipper Calvin Nash for bravely leading the charge on several occasions, not least on his dynamic run that almost set up a try near the end. On a day when Crescent mourned the passing of one of their most famous rugby personalities, Dudley Herbert, they desperately craved the title. Unfortunately they met a team that did the simple things well and reaped the rewards.
Crescent took the lead after 10 minutes when Daniel Hurley made no mistake with a short range penalty goal after which both sets of backs began to show their talents. Yet, the next score came from a penalty by Taylor and it remained at 3-3 until Crescent grabbed the opening try with Taylor getting in near the corner at the Dolphin end of the ground. He was not to know until later his failed attempted conversion – the ball fell from the kicking tee as he began his run-up – was to be crucial in this game of tightest margins.
At 8-3 to Crescent, Christians right winger Barry Galvin thought he had scored under the posts after a magnificent break from 40 metres out only to be called back for a foot in touch. They did score in the 52nd minute, a second penalty goal from the boot of Taylor in front of the posts, and with Crescent’s Billy O’Hora in the bin, CBC went in search of points. Crescent survived that spell but, just after O’Hora returned, Taylor expertly knocked over a 60th minute penalty from 40 metres to finally give Christians the lead. But it certainly wasn’t over at that stage, and even against the wind it was all Crescent; they launched assault after assault and Nash’s marvellous run looked certain to reap rewards only for Thompson’s intervention.
Crescent continued to press though and will bemoan a knock on under pressure close to the line. When Christians snaffled a Crescent throw 10 metre out the momentum swung back to the Cork school.
They will remember the disappointment of the day, but their fans could not have expected a bigger effort as they went down fighting.
*A minute’s silence was observed for the late Dudley Herbert, former coach to Crescent Comprehensive and the Munster Schools, and administrator with Munster Schools rugby.
L Coombes; B Galvin, J Harrington, A McHenry, I Casey; J Taylor, R Cassidy; L Masters, G Good, C Leahy; R Thompson, S Duffy;, R O’Neill, R Hyde, D Feeney (captain).
P Kelleher for Masters (38), S Bushe for Good (45), D Barry for Hyde (58), F Hennessy for Duffy (66).
D Hurley; J Fehilly, C Nash (captain), B O’Hora, C Phillips; M Hanly, J Lyons; J Henchy, J Barry, T Connolly; J Blake, F Coleman; N Mulcahy, D Feasy, B Faloon.
Hickey for Feasy (51).
K Barry (M.A.R)