Glenstal Abbey 18 - CBC Cork 17: The decades of heartbreak are over for Glenstal Abbey. Yesterday the Limerick side were crowned Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Senior Cup champions with a sensational one point victory over Christian Brothers College Cork at Musgrave Park.
Prior to the weekend finals held few fond memories for the Murroe school — they lost last year’s decider to PBC while their previous appearance, in 1970, ended with defeat to Rockwell.
But all that pain and anguish was washed away with this historic win, made all the sweeter when coming against a CBC side who were chasing a record-breaking 30th title.
For spells it looked like CBC would live up to their favourite tag but Glenstal were made of stern stuff and took the battle to their rivals en route to this sensational result
Triumphant skipper and master-playmaker Ben Healy insisted it was a victory that simply had to happen. “It was a bit of a distant dream at the start of the season, but losing this second final wasn’t an option for us.
“There’s a group of players there, particularly the guys in my year, who decided it had to be the ultimate goal .... it wasn’t about competing; it was about winning.
“We approached it a different way in a sense; we put a massive emphasis on performance this year rather than on the end results as such, knowing that by performing the results should take care of themselves. We went ahead but they pulled us back and that was a wake-up call.
Last year, we didn’t lead at any stage of the final, but even when they got the score (to cut the Glenstal lead to a point) we were still ahead, we said we just had to get back control and we did, happily.”
It was a nervous opening for both sides, as both struggled to land the first score. Christians though had to spend a great deal of time in defensive mode having elected to play into a very strong wind.
The Cork side appeared content to keep the exchanges tight; they did well in that sense by using inspirational skipper number eight Ben Roche and they worked one brilliant rolling maul which made 40 metres to ease some pressure.
The Limerick outfit did have an early scoring chance when centre Harry Benner came agonisingly close to an interception, and in the difficult conditions, Healy was narrowly wide with an 18th-minute penalty attempt.
Yet for all that territorial dominance, the best try-scoring chance of the match fell to CBC’s Eoghan Barrett in the 23rd minute.
The lively centre made a searing break from inside his own half but couldn’t outpace full back Aran Egan.
Christian’s won two successive penalties with Robert Hedderman landing the second effort from in front of the posts. But Glenstal hit back shortly afterewards - Healy kicked a 34th-minute penalty to tie the scores (3-3) and leave the game very much in the balance.
A marvellous mazy run from winger Andrew Hogan was the inspiration for a second penalty from Healy eight minutes into the second half which pusehd Glenstal ahead for the first time.
They got a further boost when Caolan Dooley showed a clean pair of heels to get in for a try wide out, but they had only begun to celebrate when Christians struck back with a Robert Loftus try that Hedderman converted from the touchline to bring it back to a one point game 11-10.
Glenstal weren’t quite finished yet; they scored another try with nine minutes left from prop Patrick Prendergast and Healy converted to stretch the lead back out to eight points.
Trailing by eight, CBC went hunting scores in the closing minutes and were fortunate that Glenstal failed to punish them with a series of dangerous counter-attacks.
For the last four minutes, the Cork College did everything but score as Glenstal closed up shop with a determined stream of defenders in all the right places.
Eventually, CBC found a way through — with Matthew Bowen touching down and Hedderman adding the conversion.
It was the last play though as referee Shane Kierans’ whistle confirmed Glenstal’s place in the record books.
A Egan; A Hogan, H Benner, C Dooley, R Quinn; B Healy (captain), A Walsh; H Boland, G Downing, P Prendergast; D Kelly, J Fitzgerald; R Leahy, C Booth, M Fleming.
M Walsh, B Leonard, S MacKeown, R Hanly.
R Hedderman; M Bowen, E Barrett, T Downes, A O’Connor; E Monahan, J O’Riordan; M Donnelly, D O’Connor, L Masters; A Ryan, C Hurley; J Willis, R Barry, B Roche (captain).
D Good, R Loftus, S Buckley, L Kahn, C Whooley.
S. Kierans (M.A.R)
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