The Limerick school, who lost out in last year’s final, were given an almighty scare against a Rockwell side that can count themselves very unlucky not to have pulled off a huge shock.
Rockwell began the game by putting huge defensive pressure on the Glenstal team and were rewarded with a Jake Flannery penalty in the fifth minute.
Glenstal eventually settled and went in at the break all square thanks their captain Ben Healy’s penalty. Healy was central to everything that Glenstal did and his cut pass sent Ronan Quinn away for the game’s first try early in the second half.
Quinn still had plenty to do but did so in impressive fashion, running in from 30 metres. Healy nailed the conversion but Rockwell were soon back in the game.
Healy’s crossfield kick bounced away from Quinn and into the hands of Ryan O’Sullivan, who scored a sensational try to bring Rockwell to within two points. However, Jake Flannery’s touchline conversion sailed wide and Glenstal held on.
Early on, Rockwell’s big defensive hits had rattled their opponents, forcing knock-ons. Glenstal were then penalised for not rolling away by referee John Adams – Connolly made no mistake from straight in front to put his side 3-0 up.
The Tipperary side were then handed another scoring chance through another knock-on, but superb defensive work at the breakdown got Glenstal a relieving penalty.
Glenstal were playing with the advantage of a strong breeze in the opening 35 minutes and it helped to bring them deep in Rockwell territory after 15 minutes.
The lineout maul was brilliantly defended by Rockwell’s defence, with Glenstal hooker George Downing forced over the touchline five metres from the line.
Rockwell then went up the other end and nearly went in for the first try when Conall Kennedy blocked Quinn’s clearance. However, the flanker knocked on. Had he collected, a try was a certainty.
Glenstal weathered that storm and put themselves back in the Rockwell 22 when Downey won another penalty at the breakdown.
They then laid siege to the Rockwell line, but at each juncture they were repelled and eventually had to settle for a Healy penalty that left the score level at the break.
Glenstal then hit the front 13 minutes into the second-half. Downey’s powerful run sucked in the Rockwell defence on the right-hand side and when the ball was moved left, Quinn took Healy’s pass and dodged past a couple of defenders to score.
Healy nailed the conversion to put Glenstal seven points up, but there was still a sting left in the Rockwell tail.
A crossfield kick from Healy to Quinn was nearly inch perfect, however, when the ball didn’t go to hand, O’Sullivan was alive to the danger and scored a simply magnificent try – scoring from inside his own half. Flannery was off-target with the conversion and Glenstal held on for a nervy win.
A Egan, A Hogan, H Benner, C Dooley, R Quinn, B Healy, A Walsh; H Boland, G Downing, P Prendergast, D Kelly, J Fitzgerald, R Leahy, C Booth, M Fanning.
M Walsh for Fitzgerald (43), D Hyland for Boland (48), N Quelly for Kelly (53), E Fitzgerald for Booth (68).
D Farrelly, C Pearson, J Hunt, A Daly, S Cotter, J Flannery, O Mangan; C Ryan, D Molloy, B Ryan, N O’Hanrahan, R Browne, C Kennedy, J Harney, S Grogan.
J O’Meara for Grogan (43), R O’Sullivan for Cotter (43), J O’Sullivan for Mangan (75).
J Adams (MAR)