So close as mighty Quinn kicks Con to 25th crown<

CHAMPS: The Cork Constitution players celebrate with the ODM Financial Munster Senior Cup after defeating Garryowen at Thomond Park. Picture: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile

Cork Constitution 9 Garryowen 6
A 40-metre penalty kicked in the 22nd minute of extra-time by full-back Chris Quinn gave Cork Constitution their 25th ODM Munster Senior Cup at the expense of their old rivals Garryowen at Thomond Park last night.

Just when it seemed the game would finish in a 6-6 draw, Constitution were awarded a penalty out on the left hand side of the pitch as Garryowen were preparing to throw into a lineout. Quinn, who had enjoyed a fine game throughout the night in the number 15 Con jersey displayed a steely nerve to bisect the posts and break the hearts of a Garryowen side who had performed with great heart and no little skill.

It was a Munster Cup worthy of these two great clubs. The two sides performed with great courage and commitment in the most appalling conditions, especially in the first half, and it was an emotional occasion for the Con scrum-half and captain Gerry Hurley, who played much of his early senior rugby with the Light Blues. He played a true captain’s part in the number nine Con jersey and he had many willing allies, not least match winner Chris Quinn and the outstanding Luke Cahill at number eight.

For Garryowen what has been a miserable season so far only got worse, and that was harsh justice in the extreme on forwards Mark Rowley and James Rael not to mention a real terrier-like scrum-half in Neil Cronin.

Garryowen desperately needed a good start after all their poor results so far this season and they got it in the shape of a well-struck penalty by Jamie Gavin after only two minutes. Darragh Lyons almost immediately missed a sitter for Con before making amends with a fine equaliser in the 12th minute at a stage when the stadium was being swept by a horrendous rain shower which must have left referee Kieran Barry tempted to take the players off for a period.

However, they stuck at it and a second Lyons penalty deservedly pushed Con in front after 18 minutes.

Con skipper Hurley kept his side on the offensive with the shrewd tactical game that was the hallmark of his time at Rockwell College and Garryowen, aided all the time by a decided edge at scrimmage time with Gavin Duffy, Andrew O’Driscoll and Ger Sweeney giving the Garryowen trio of Rory Brosnan, James Rael and Peter O’Shea a tough time.

The introduction of the Connacht-contracted prop JP Cooney helped to shore things up, the Garryowen defence held firm and even though they were turning to face the strong wind, they still entertained hope of claiming the trophy for a 39th time. Sure enough, they battled through an exciting and honestly fought second period, often looking the better side, and they really upped the tempo when Con back-row James Ryan was yellow carded in the dying minutes.

Jamie Gavin eventually drew them level with a close-range penalty at the death, and given that they had claimed the first score of the game, they would have been declared champions had the game finished level, having scored the opening points. Then Gavin missed a couple of extra-time penalties before Chris Quinn held his nerve to claim the winning points for Con with the last kick of a dramatic evening.

CORK CONSTITUTION: Chris Quinn; Cathal Quinn, L Duffy, N Kenneally, C Desmond; D Lyons, G Hurley capt; G Duffy, A O’Driscoll, G Sweeney, J McSwiney, C O’Flaherty, G Lawlor, J Ryan, L Cahill.

Rolling replacements – M Abbott, B Cagney, S Dwyer, R Burke, Y Browne, R Foley, C Jouve.

GARRYOWEN: L Bourke; S McMahon, C Doyle, A Gaughan, J McInerney; J Gavin, N Cronin; R Brosnan capt, J Rael, P O’Shea, A McCloskey, D Mulcair, S Buckley, A Kavanagh, M Rowley.

Rolling replacements – E Rossiter, JP Cooney, A Valcu, M Hanrahan, H McNulty, A O’Byrne, G Ryan.

Referee: Kieran Barry (IRFU).


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