Defending champions CBC advanced to the semi-finals of the Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Senior Cup with an 11-point win over Castletroy College.
After a slow start saw them fall six points behind, the Cork school warmed to their task with five tries in an entertaining game.
“Absolutely delighted,” was CBC coach Tommy Crowe’s initial reaction. “Cup games are there to be won and we’ve won it even though we said to the lads it wasn’t a game of perfect. We’ve plenty of things to work on.
“We’ve a month now to gather and get ourselves ready for a semi-final but for our first day out, the schoolkids are waiting all year for this, we’re delighted to win the game, move on, and get ready for the next challenge. It was difficult in the wind in the first half and we coughed up one or two early penalties and the scoreboard didn’t reflect how we were playing.
But we got two great tries into the wind, that settled us, and from that, we powered on.
Musgrave Park was unusually quiet for this round two game as Christians’ students were banned from attending by the Munster Branch over a pitch invasion following their victory over Pres in last year’s final.
“It was out of our control,” added Crowe. “We’d have liked to have our supporters there, absolutely, but it’s just a conversation we never entered into. That was the constraint that was put on us on the day and we just got on with it.”
Another constraint was lining out without last year’s Cup-winning out-half Cian Whooley, due to injury, but he’ll be back for the semi-finals. Castletroy go into their quarter-final against Limerick rivals St Munchin’s encouraged by elements of a performance where they dominated the first-quarter collisions and battled to the end.
Smart tactical kicking by Castletroy scrum-half Jack Oliver, son of former Scottish scrum-half and Munster elite player development officer Greig, forced errors, which he capitalised on with 3rd and 17th-minute penalties.
Shane Buckley missed a close-range CBC penalty but they came again in a dominant second quarter and two tries in the five minutes before half-time gave them a 10-6 lead.
Jack Morehead made the initial break for both tries, with David Kiely racing in from halfway before Buckley’s pass sent George Coomber into the corner. Buckley missed both touchline conversions.
It looked like the impressive Luke McAuliffe had their third when he powered over after the break but he was held up. However, waves of CBC pressure eventually told as John Moloney and Jason Aylward saw yellow cards for slowing down the ball and a deliberate knock-on respectively, with referee Richard Horgan awarding a penalty try for the latter offence.
13-man Castletroy hit back from the restart, forcing a penalty which Oliver slotted to reduce the gap to eight, 17-9.
It didn’t stay there long. CBC pinched a ruck ball and Coomber sent Aaron Leahy away for a long-distance sprint to the corner.
Coomber’s conversion attempt hit the post before adding a penalty after Jamie McNamara was yellow carded, Castletroy’s third in little over 10 minutes. Dogged in their resistance, replacement Nesta Nymakazi got a push-over try, with Oliver converting to narrow to 25-16.
Another substitute, Alan McDonald, put it to bed as he dived under the posts from close range, with Coomber adding the extras to make it double scores, as Oliver’s stoppage-time try only narrowed the margin of defeat.
J Murphy; A Leahy, G Coomber, J Morehead, D Kiely; S Buckley, A O’Mahony; A O’Regan, L McAuliffe, C Hanlon; J Morrison, J Aherne; P McBarron, R O’Sullivan, F MacFhlannchadha (capt).
A Treacy, S Rall, A McDonald, R Kelleher, M O’Connor, T McCarthy, C Lavin, J Moylan, W Waterman, R Shalloe.
E O’Halloran; L Cunneen, S Hanrahan, J Aylward, M Lyons; M O’Hanrahan (capt), J Oliver; R Magill, D McGinn, J McCormack; S Den Dikken, J Moloney; J Toland, S Quirke, J McNamara.
N Nymakazi, P O’Shea, A Walter, O O’Shea.
R Horgan (MAR).