Rockwell College were denied an historic three Munster Schools Senior Cups in a row after a fantastic performance by Limerick City based Crescent Comprehensive at Thomond Park in Limerick City on Monday last.
It’s been said that you learn more when you lose than when you win and Crescent managed by former Rockwell coach Tony Trehy proved that adage correct. After been beaten 15-5 by Rockwell in the first round of this competition, the Limerick outfit, run by the Jesuit order, regrouped superbly despite having to come through a bruising semi-Final replay against Cork outfit CBC just six days earlier and continued a great week for an order which elected its first pontiff just seven days previously .
Rockwell Coach Mark Butler went into this encounter with a full strength side to pick from although there were concerns about a hamstring injury sustained by captain Aidan Butler in the semi-final victory over Munchin’s.
Playing with the wind the game started superbly for the Limerick men when after just five minutes they were awarded a penalty just outside the Rockwell 22 for offside by the Cashel men.
Crescent’s semi final hero and captain Gearoid Lyons, no doubt on a high from his last gasp semi-final conversion against CBC which the Limerick outfit won 7-6, put his side 3-0 in front.
Indeed he doubled his side’s advantage just 7 minutes later after Rockwell were again penalised at the breakdown although Rockwell could count themselves fortunate not to have conceded a try to Limerick backrow Diarmuid Dee who was causing havoc for the Rockwell rearguard who was held up just short of the line.
With Rockwell failing to gain any meaningful foothold in Crescent territory the Limerick men’s pressure eventually paid off with another penalty for offside in the 18th minute putting them 9-0 to the good.
Indeed it took Rockwell 20 minutes to get inside the Crescent 22 and the result was to put them right back in the game. A superb carry from a lineout from Jimmy Feehan saw Sean O’Connor make a brilliant break for the corner and his offload to winger David O’Mahoney saw him touch down with space at a premium. Rory Parata however failed to add the extra.
Crescent however weren’t fazed and after another exchange of slick passes inside the Rockwell 22 after 31 minutes, JJ O’Neill touched down in the corner. Lyons added the extra to put the Limerick men 16-5 up.
Rockwell did attack the Crescent line again before the break and probably will regret twice opting for a tap and go inside the Crescent 22 when a kickable penalty was in the offing and the Limerick men went in at the break 16-5 to the good.
Rockwell lost captain Aidan Butler at halftime with a shoulder injury but were to be hit with a further blow just 6 minutes into the second half when fullback Steve McMahon, who has scored a try in every round of the cup for Rockwell, was red carded for dangerous play after he failed to land Crescent centre William Leonard correctly.
Lyons further rubbed salt in the wound when he landed the resultant penalty for Crescent to put them 19-5 up.
After 45 minutes the Tipperary men were penalised again when back row Tommy Anglim, who had replaced Aidan Butler at half time, was penalised for offside. Lyons again added the 3 points.
Worse was to follow on 57 minutes when after a brilliant Crescent move which involved lock Jonathon Keane and No.8 Jack Dineen whose exquisite offload put Diarmuid Dee in in the corner effectively ended the game as a contest. Lyons showing that he is fallible after all missed the conversion to leave the score at 27-5.
The game petered out as a contest after this try and try as they might in the closing stages Rockwell could not pierce the Crescent rearguard. The Limerick outfit bridged a 19 year gap going back to 1994 when Crescent boasted none other than former Munster and Ireland backrow David Wallace among its artillery.
Rockwell - S McMahon (Dungarvan), D O’Mahony (Clonakilty), W Coffey (Toomevara), S O’Donoghue (Clonmel), R Parata (Cork), A Moynihan (Cork), B Riley (Bahrain), A Butler (Cashel), S Dwyer (Thurles), J Feehan (Killenaule), S O’Connor (Boherlahan), N Flynn (Cahir), J Maxwell (New Inn), D McNulty (Clonmel), D O’Connell (Tipp Town) . Replacements all used : J Bolger (Wexford), D O’Dwyer (Moycarkey), L Hickey (New Inn), A Horgan (Ballincollig), T Anglim (Fethard), R Horgan (Cork City), E Mulcahy (Middleton) and A McMahon (Dungarvan).
Referee - K Barry (Mar).