A fantastic second half display saw holders Rockwell College defeat a much fancied Crescent Comprehensive 15-5 in the first round of the Munster Schools Senior cup and continue a remarkable senior cup winning sequence at Clanwilliam FC in Tipperary Town which stretches back to 2009.
Rockwell went into the game without No.8 talisman and captain Aidan Butler. The Cashel man, brother of Munster No.8 stalwart Paddy, suffered a hamstring injury the previous evening in the captain’s run at Clanwilliam and was replaced by Neville Flynn with Sean O’Connor moving to the backrow.
Crescent’s superb ball retention was putting Rockwell on the back foot for much of the early exchanges forcing the concession of two early penalties, one of which was missed by Crescent kicker Gearoid Lyons. However it was the second penalty after 15 minutes which was to hurt Rockwell the most. Lyons took a quick tap and go penalty and after releasing to James Frawley out on the right the fullback scored in the corner. Again Lyons failed to seek maximum retribution for the Limerick men with his conversion attempt falling short.
The concession of such an early try seemed to spark Rockwell into life with Maxwell and backrow forwards Tommy Anglim playing in first cup match and two time winners medallist Sonny Dwyer constantly seeking to find gaps in the Limerick men’s defence. One such opportunity arrived on 22 minutes when after a superb offload from Riley to Aidan Moynihan the outhalf went agonisingly close to the Crescent line at the clubhouse end only for a high tackle from Crescent’s Cormac Blake, from which the big backrow was fortunate to avoid the bin for, prevented his passage but earned his side a penalty. Rory Parata added the three points to put Rockwell back in the encounter.
Rockwell kept going however superbly collecting the kick off and forcing Crescent into mistakes. Just minutes later Moynihan, scorer of all Rockwell’s points in last year’s decider at Thomond Park, executed a superb cross field kick into the corner but an unfortunate mix up between Winger O’Mahoney and fullback McMahon saw the ball knocked on with the line open. One sensed from all the pressure a Rockwell try must surely be in the offing and it duly arrived after 30 minutes when Moynihan collected a pass from Riley just outside the twenty two and after brilliantly feigning past centre Joey Purcell he scored under the posts at the club house end to leave kicker Parata with the simplest of tasks to add the extra. Lyons missed another penalty for the Limerick men on the stroke of half time to leave Rockwell 10-5 to the good at the break.
Rockwell put the game beyond doubt 17 minutes into the second half. After several phrases on the Crescent twenty two Riley passed out wide to Flynn who fed Anglim and with the Fethard man doing superbly to stay on his feet until the cover arrived McMahon blazed a fantastic trail to touch down in the corner with space at a premium. Against a strong breeze Parata could not be faulted for failing to add the extra. Rockwell continued to dominate most of the second half exchanges and forwards coach Denis Leamy will no doubt be delighted with Rockwell’s performance from the set pieces with Flynn winning almost all of Rockwell’s own line outs and Sean O’Connor playing in superbly in his first senior cup match nicking two from the opposition. Rockwell face Castletroy College in the quarter final on February 20 at Clanwilliam while their juniors take on Saint Munchin’s in the first round on Wednesday February 6 at 3pm again at the same venue.
Rockwell: D O’Connell (Tipp Town), S McNulty (Clonmel), J Maxwell (New Inn), A Horgan (Cork), S O’Connor (Boherlahan), T Anglim (Fethard), S O’Dwyer (Thurles Capt), N Flynn (Cahir), B Riley (Bahrain), A Moynihan (Cork), W Coffey (Toomevara), R Parata (South Africa), S O’Donoghue (Clonmel), D O’Mahoney (Clonakilty), S McMahon (Waterford). Replacements J Feehan (Killenaule) for Horgan (Injured 50 mins), R Horgan (Cork) for Moynihan injured 66 mins.