Mark Butler has now coached Rockwell College to three Munster Schools Cup victories. But he was also at the helm when they lost the same number of finals so he was well entitled to smile after yesterday’s victory over Ardscoil Rís at sunny Thomond Park.
“We have a lot of good players, which you need to win a cup, but, today, I thought some final nerves might have been kicking in and we made a lot of errors, especially in the opposition green zone,” he rationalised.
“Full credit to Ardscoil, they asked a lot of questions of us. When they moved the ball into the wider channels, I thought we looked a bit exposed. They didn’t reach the final without being a good side and they had a couple of injuries as well which obviously affected them and they showed at times what they are capable of.”
In actual fact, both sides started without two regulars, Tom Brown and Jerry McCabe for Ardscoil and Rockwell’s Tommy Anglim and Sean Lanigan-Ryan.
“We have a couple of disappointed fellows who were unable to tog off today,” said Butler. “The late try was a big score, it got us back to two scores ahead and I think it was a little bit against the run of play for they were coming back into the game. But for us to score that try with 14 men on the park was a massive blow to their hopes.
“Every final, it’s a different group of players. They’re all special. There’s 150 years of rugby tradition in Rockwell, you walk down the main corridors and see all the teams from years gone by. We’re just the timekeepers of Rockwell rugby and hopefully we’re doing it justice. Full credit to Munster rugby, we got to play here in a semi-final and a final. Long may it continue that we play at Thomond Park where the tradition and history involved are very special.”
Forwards coach Denis Leamy had every reason to be satisfied with the side’s performance, stressing “to be involved is fantastic. I owe the college an awful lot and to get over the line today is brilliant.”
Mossie Lawler, a former Munster team mate of Leamy, struggled to conceal his disappointment at a second successive final defeat for Ardscoil.
“We made too many unforced errors,” he lamented. “In the first five minutes, we lost three line-outs and dropped two balls and put a kick-off into touch. You can’t do that at this level no matter what age you are.
“Possibly they were nervous but there’s a bit of experience in that group this year. In fairness, Rockwell are clinical in everything they do, they didn’t make mistakes and that’s why they are champions.”
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