Ardscoil Rís enjoyed roughly 40% of possession and territory, but ultimately they had nothing in terms of scoring threat to match a highly- accomplished Christians outfit who played at a higher pace and reaped the dividends in the form of five tries to send a gallant Limerick outfit home without reward.
While there was no conclusive winner in the tough battle of the packs — maybe Christians had a slight edge — where Ben Roche for the winners and Daniel Okeke for Ardscoil were arguably the stand-out players, there was a clear difference behind the scrum.
Yes, Glen Clancy did all he possibly could to batter his way through the Christians defence – and he did make significant ground on a couple of occasions – but the visitors just couldn’t match the organisation and penetrative powers of the Christians back division, particularly from centres Thomas Downes and Eoghan Barrett.
This duo were well served by half-backs Jack O’Riordan and Cian Whooley, while Robert Hedderman also provided some headaches for the Ard Scoil rearguard.
Ardscoil Rís head coach Conor Glynn was philosophical about the outcome and happy with certain aspects of his side’s performance.
“We had a lot of the ball in the second half and I was pleased with the way the boys battled throughout that period considering where we were at half-time (20-7 down).
“Unfortunately, all that effort took a toll, they wore us down in a sense and hit back with a couple of late tries that probably came as a result of a few injuries on our part, but look, they’re a fine side and they defended very well there in the second half. They took their opportunities well but my message to our boys is that it wasn’t really a 34-7 game, it was closer than that for sure.
“We’ll take this one on board and prepare for the next round now.”
Christians started at a blistering pace and grabbed the opening try inside a minute from Downes. The brilliant Barrett was at the heart of all the early good moves and almost set up another try six minutes later, before skipper Roche rumbled over for a different type of score in the 11th minute. Hedderman converted, before kicking a penalty for a 15-0 advantage.
The Limerick outfit had a well-earned 28th-minute try from skipper Rys Tucker and Darragh O’Gormon converted but Hedderman struck back just before half-time to give his side that 20-7 lead.
In the second half, after absorbing all the Ardscoil Rís pressure, Christians struck late with tries in the 65th and 69th minutes from substitute Eoin Monahan and flanker Ronan Barry, both of them converted by Hedderman.
It all left head coach Tommy Crowe in happy mood: “It has been nip and tuck with Ardscoil the last few years, it’s never easy against them, we’re delighted to have absorbed pressure and to show patience and we’re particularly delighted to have scored a couple of tries to finish it off.
“I suppose we got scores at critical times and the one just before half-time gave us that bit of a margin to play with. We took our chances, we finished well, there was good pace out there, we’re looking forward to the next test.
“Overall, we played a nice brand of rugby, we were positive at all stages of the game and ultimately we got the rewards.”
R Hedderman; M Bowen, E Barrett, T Downes, A O’Connor; C Whooley, J O’Riordan; M Donnelly, D O’Connor, L Masters; D McAuliffe, J Willis; C Barry, R Barry, B Roche (captain).
C Rasmussen, D Good, R Loftus, C Hurley, P Fives, F Burke, L Kahn, B Cain.
C O’Rahilly; C Murphy, K Dineen, G Clancy, L O’Shanaghan; D O’Gorman, I Leonard; M Gaule, R Tucker (captain), F Lyons; B Noonan, W O’Callaghan; M O’Callaghan, J Ward-Murphy, D Okeke.
S Clery, O Czyzczon, K Danaher, J Taylor, J Horrigan, C Moloney, A McNamara, D O’Byrne.
Referee S Kierans (MAR)