Two tries, one in either half, from centre Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham and full-back Andrew O’Byrne helped Ulster Bank League Division 1 A side Garryowen ease past their Division 1B opponents before a sizeable attendance.
UL Bohs were seeking their first Munster Senior Cup win in 56 years and provided stubborn resistance for three quarters of the game, but their city rivals greater cutting edge proved crucial in the end.
No-one could begrudge Garryowen their first cup final success in six seasons, as the Dooradoyle side had defeated two Ulster Bank League Division 1A sides, Young Munster and six-in- a-row-seeking Cork Con en route to last night’s final.
After the winners held a narrow 7-3 half-time lead, Garryowen scored the first points of the second half through hugely influential scrum-half and captain Neil Cronin.
Garryowen’s strength in depth on their replacements’ bench proved key to their success, as head coach Conan Doyle was able to unleash a host of experienced All-Ireland League players in the second period.
The ‘Light Blues’ sealed their victory in the 73rd minute, when full-back O’Byrne dotted down.
UL Bohemian lost their winger Colin Ryan to a yellow card inside the opening six minutes. Garryowen finally took advantage of their numerical advantage in the final play before Ryan’s return.
Out-half Jamie Gavin spotted an overlap on the right and found Liam Coombes with a beautifully-judged crossfield kick.
Coombes did superbly to beat a UL Bohs defender and pass the ball inside to Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham, who dotted down.
Scrum-half Neil Cronin duly converted for a 7-0 lead for the Light Blues.
Ulster Bank League Division 1A side Garryowen had a chance to increase their advantage after 28 minutes, but the normally reliable Cronin was off target with a penalty from just inside the UL Bohs half.
UL Bohs’ had to wait until the 34th minute to create their first scoring opportunity. The Annacotty side forced an excellent turnover on the half-way line after terrific counter rucking and the ball was fly-kicked upfield.
UL Bohs won the race to the ball inside the Garryowen 22, but as they inched their way to the line, they knocked on and Garryowen relieved the pressure following the resultant scrum.
UL Bohs managed to open their account on the stroke of half-time, when Robbie Burke kicked a penalty goal from inside the Dooradoyle side’s 22.
Garryowen maintained their four-point advantage until half-time.
Both sides struggled to build any decent momentum in the third quarter, as handling errors became more frequent in the persistent drizzle.
However, a 63rd-minute penalty from Cronin and O’Byrne’s late try helped the Dooradoyle side claim the cup.
H O’Brien-Cunningham, A O’Byrne (try each), N Cronin (two pens, con).
R Burke (pen).
A O’Byrne; L Coombes, H O’Brien-Cunningham, P Collins, J McInerney; J Gavin, N Cronin; A Keating, L Cronin, J Phelan, T Ferguson, D Moore; D Ryan, M Wilson, M Rowley. Replacements: D Barron, N Horan, S Rennison, D McCarthy, A Leonard-Rice, A McCloskey, J Daly.
J McCarthy; J McNamara, A Enright, H Flemming, C Ryan; R Burke, J Murray; M Bromell, J Bennett, M Lynch, D Frawley, E Kelly; J Ryan, I Condell, N Kinane. Replacements: D Rowsome, D O’Connor, M Mullally, D O’Grady, R Hennessy, S English, P Nesbitt.
Richard Horgan (IRFU)