CBC Cork 13 PBC Cork 12: The faces may change but circumstances on the path to glory often remain the same between these two iconic schools as proved by a delicately balanced Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Senior Cup semi-final thriller at Musgrave Park yesterday.
Christian Brothers College edged through to the decider at the expense of unlucky Presentation, who scored two tries to one but were outdone by the concession of too many first-half penalties and the inevitable bounce of a ball.
The winners won’t be worried they had to scrap for a place in the final, that it all probably came down to a last-ditch tackle by Ian Casey on his opposite winger Paul Buckley seven minutes into the second-half, or that they didn’t reach their full potential against dogged opposition.
Christians may have had the bigger pack but Pres yielded nothing up front and, arguably, produced a man of the match in their No.8, Jack O’Sullivan.
Apart from Buckley’s magnificent attempt to score and an excellent try from left winger Sean French, overall Christians probably held an edge behind the scrum, with Pres having to work to curb Alex McHenry and Liam Coombes on a few occasions.
But this was a game of fine margins even when Christians moved into an eight-point lead as the game headed towards the three-quarter mark.
Even then, Christians head coach Neil Lucey was never at ease. He noted: “It was typical Pres, they just never gave up and they came back strongly to make us fight all the way to get over the line.”
After some early shadow boxing and a penalty miss apiece, Pres took the lead after 12 minutes when O’Sullivan charged down an attempted clearance and managed to control the ball before falling over for a try out wide.
Peter Sylvester’s attempted conversion drifted away in the wind and Pres paid the price for a fracas after the restart, when conceding a penalty to James Taylor, who nailed the 30-metre effort.
Christians scored again after 21 minutes to take the lead, a brilliant long-range counter-attack from McHenry paving the way for Ross O’Neill to make big ground on the wing before sending full-back Liam Coombes in for the try, that Taylor converted. Christians held that 10-5 lead comfortably to the break.
Pres did start the second-half with determination and came agonisingly close to grabbing a second try only for Buckley to be tackled just short of the line. However, it was Christians who got the first score of the period when Taylor made no mistake with a 30-metre penalty to stretch the lead out to eight points.
No matter, it all opened up again when Pres charged to score. French got over in the corner, sent in by full-back Jonathan Wren. French brilliantly converted into the teeth of a wind from the touchline.
That was to be it in terms of scoring, though, with Christians coming closest when Taylor’s injury-time penalty effort whistled wide.
L Coombes, B Galvin, J Harrington, A McHenry, I Casey, J Taylor, R Cassidy, J Humphries, G Good, C Leahy, R Thompson, S Duffy, R O’Neill, R Hyde, D Feeney (captain).
S Bushe for Good, F Hennessy for Duffy (both 41), D Barry for Hyde, C McHugh for Leahy (both 57), C Sisk for Cassidy (62)
J Wren, P Buckley, L O’Connor, J O’Shea, S French, P Sylvester, H Shanahan, B O’Connor, M Shinkwin, S Deane, C O’Flynn, B O’Mahony (captain), C Fitzgerald, D Hyland, J T O’Sullivan.
J E O’Sullivan for Fitzgerald (51), T Fitzgerald for Buckley (58 injured), P Crowley for C O’Flynn (66).
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