Ardscoil Rís 10 St Munchin’s College 5
In a game of tight margins this game needed a scoring hero to make the difference, and Ardscoil Rís had one in out-half Darragh O’Gorman, who scored the vital try and brilliantly kicked his side out of trouble in this exciting Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Senior Cup tie at the University of Limerick yesterday.
That Ardscoil Rís survived with 14 men for 10 minutes of the pulsating second half — they had second row Brian Noonan yellow-carded for a technical foul and number eight Daniel Okeke sent off near the end for what referee Eoghan Cross confirmed was a “direct punch” — says a huge amount for their character.
The defence covered the necessary angles and both O’Gorman and, on one crucial occasion, full-back Cian O’Rahilly, pegged St Munchin’s back with long and well- directed clearance kicks.
It made for pleasant viewing for Ardscoil Rís coach Conor Glynn: “We came in with a certain game plan and the lads stuck to that, although they could not have reckoned with having to defend like that in the closing stages. They threw themselves about and they went through an immense amount of hard work in defence, particularly during the time we were down to 14 from the yellow card. We rode the yellow very well and just knuckled down after the red.
“Look, it was great to get back with a win after losing the first round. We’ll have to wait and see who we draw now, but we will take stock of this win and it will give us confidence. We know we can play, so we won’t be afraid of anyone in the next round.”
Glynn reserved high praise for O’Gorman: “This is Darragh’s third experience of the cup and you could really see that experience shine through. He had a really good game, big contribution from a big player, we saw him step back into the pocket often and calmly put the ball where he wanted it to go. That was very important on the day.”
With hooker and captain Rys Tucker and Okeke often to the fore, Ardscoil Rís did much of the early pressing, but failed to take advantage of territory near the St Munchin’s line. Instead, the losers struck first, after forcing the concession of four successive penalties and a warning from the referee to Ardscoil Rís that another transgression might lead to a yellow card.
From the last of those penalties and a powerful rolling maul off clean lineout possession, Jake Murphy got the opening try of the game, following good approach work from Shane Kelly and Alex Casey.
St Munchin’s continued to push, but Jude Pendejito, who missed the conversion, also sent a penalty attempt wide of the mark.
Glad to survive some anxious moments, Ardscoil Rís struck back brilliantly on the stroke of half-time, with O’Gorman’s powerful run bringing him to the line and through the last tackle for a try at the posts that he converted himself to give his side a 7-5 lead.
Eleven minutes into the second half, he kicked a long-range penalty goal. He missed another five minutes later, but it mattered not.
The St Munchin’s pressure mounted when Ardscoil were reduced in numbers, but tackles went in and most of those tackles counted; the losers were stopped in their tracks and two turnovers, in particular, allowed O’Gorman and Moloney to send play right back into St Munchin’s territory to allow a determined defence regroup and hold on for a memorable win.
ARDSCOIL RÍS: C O’Rahilly; C Murphy, K Dineen, G Clancy, L O Shanahan; D O’Gorman, I Leonard; M Gaule, R Tucker (captain), F Lyons; B Noonan, W O’Callaghan; M O’Callaghan, S Hanley, D Okeke.
Replacements: S Clery, J Hardaker, E Roche, J Ward-Murphy, J Taylor, J Hourigan, D O’Byrne, C Moloney, A McNamara.
ST MUNCHIN’S: Z Moloney; C Quilter, L Kelly, J Pendejito, T O’Halloran; G Quilligan, E Maher (captain); C Finn, K Hyland, E Sheehan-O’Donnell; A Casey, M Crowe; C Nesbitt, J Murphy, S Kelly.
Replacements: H Wood-Hennessy, E Kelly, S Ryan, A Deegan, J Kingston, A Tierney, J Ryan.
Referee: E Cross (MAR)
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