Munster Schools Senior Cup Semi-Final
Rockwell College 13
St Munchin’s CollegE 6
A late try by Rockwell College fullback Steve McMahon means the Tipperary men will dine at Munster schools rugby‘s top table for an unprecedented fifth successive year after a nail biting victory over Limerick’s St Munchin’s College in a repeat of last year’s decider at Clanwilliam FC on Tuesday afternoon last.
Encounters between Rockwell and Munchin’s are always close affairs and no one from either side needed any reminding of how close last year’s decider at Thomond Park was when Rockwell emerged victorious 6-5.
Rockwell coaches Mark Butler and Denis Leamy had a full strength side to pick from for this encounter with two-time winning medallist Neville Flynn restored to the second row at the expense of Adam Horgan who dropped to the bench.
It was Munchin’s however who were first out of the blocks and completely dominated the early exchanges with centre Dan Goggin Rockwell’s tormentor in chief causing havoc with some excellent line breaks and No.8 and Tipperary Minor Footballer Ben Kilkenny causing Rockwell plenty of problems at the breakdown.
Indeed from one such foray into Rockwell territory only an exceptional tackle from Rockwell scrum half Ben Riley on Goggin prevented a certain try for the Limerick men after twelve minutes with Riley forced to retire from proceedings after his bravery. The move forced Rockwell to re-jig their defence with O’Mahoney dropping to scrum half and Rory Horgan coming in on the wing. The Munchin’s pressure eventually yielded dividends after 15 minutes when Rockwell were penalised for off-side and flyhalf Shane Airy made no mistake to put the Limerick men 3-0 to the good.
Despite living on their nerves at times Rockwell did get back into the encounter. A searing run by centre Shaun O’Donoghue almost yielded dividends in the 20th minute but it was an exceptional gallop by Steve McMahon from a mark inside his own 22 to the opposing 22 which yielded Rockwell’s first penalty after the Limerick men were penalised for hands in the ruck. Shortly afterwards Parata executed to perfection to leave the score at the break at 3 points each.
Rockwell were on the back foot for the early part of the second half and had to rely on Aidan Moynihan and Rory Parata’s kicking to gain territory as well as some excellent tackling from wingers Willie Coffey and David O’Mahoney. However just 11 minutes into the second half Munchin’s lost influential centre Goggin who was sent to the sin bin for slapping the ball out of the hands of scrum half David O’Mahoney. Shortly afterwards Parata brilliantly executed another penalty for Rockwell after the Limerick side were penalised for offside.
However straight from the kick-off Rockwell were penalised for not releasing the tackler and Shane Airy levelled matters up once more. Rockwell gave it everything in the closing stages with some great work from tighthead James Maxwell, second row Sean O’Connor and back row James Feehan taking the game to the Limerick men. Rockwell were to lose influential captain Aidan Butler with a hamstring injury midway through the second half as well as James Feehan and Neville Flynn in the closing stages and introduced forwards Tommy Anglim, Adam Horgan and Luke Hickey to their pack.
With the game heading for a 6-6 draw nobody could have predicted the dramatic outcome. With over three minutes of injury time on the clock scrumhalf Dave O’Mahoney produced a superb carry from the base of a ruck, and his off load to fellow halfback Moynihan who in turn off loaded brilliantly to Parata. Parata’s step seemed to distract the Limerick defence and his exquisite pass to Steve McMahon saw the fullback use his strength to drive over from five yards out. It was a truly remarkable late score from the Waterford man who has had a fine tournament thus far. Parata made no mistake with the extra to put Rockwell 7 to the good. It was a cruel late blow to saint Munchin’s who failed to capitalise on one last play to bow out of this year’s tournament.
Speaking after the game Rockwell Head coach Mark Butler said he was “delighted with the win” but that his side “still had a lot to improve on if they are to win the cup this year”. They will now meet the winners of Crescent Comprehensive and Christian Brothers College (CBC) who must replay after they drew 3-3 in the other Semi-Final at Tom Clifford Park in Limerick last Thursday. Depending on the outcome of this game Rockwell will play the Senior Cup Final most likely on Monday March 18 at Musgrave Park if CBC win and at Thomond Park if Crescent win.
Rockwell: Steve McMahon (Dungarvan), David O’Mahoney (Clonakilty), Shaun O’Donoghue (Clonmel), Rory Parata (Passage), Willie Coffey (Toomevara), Aidan Moynihan (Canovee), Ben Riley (Bahrain), Denis O’Connell (Tipp Town), Sean McNulty (Clonmel), James Maxwell (New Inn), Neville Flynn (Cahir), Sean O’Connor (Boherlahan), James Feehan (Killenaule), Sonny Dwyer (Thurles), Aidan Butler (Capt, Cashel).
Replacements Rory Horgan (Cork) for Riley injured 12 minutes, Adam Horgan (Ballincollig) for Flynn and Tommy Anglim (Fethard) for Feehan both 50 minutes. Luke Hickey (New Inn) for Butler (inj 54 mins).
Referee Olly Hodges (MAR).
St Munchin’s: S Halpin, E O’Keeffe, D Goggin, D Kelly, G Bateman, S Airey, R Meagher, D Begley, P Meyer, B Keogh, S O’Mullan, T O’Dwyer, K Browne, L Nicholas (C), B Kilkenny. Replacements T Madden, E Brennan, J Prenderville, J Sheehan, N Nugent, A Wallace, S Doona and Kelton Faloon.
Munster Schools Junior Cup
Quarter Final Replay
Rockwell juniors just pipped following battling display
Christian Brothers College 22
Rockwell College 21
Rockwell experienced the highs and lows of sport in 24 dramatic hours last week. Just as their seniors claimed a place in this year’s senior Cup final for the fifth year in a row, Rockwell Juniors bowed out of this year’s Munster Schools Junior Cup by the narrowest of margins on Wednesday last at Musgrave Park in Cork City.
Just a week after a dramatic draw between the two sides at Clanwilliam FC, Rockwell took on the Cork giants in their own backyard in Munster Rugby’s second home. Coach Kevin Leamy had to plan for the encounter without influential outhalf Bill Johnston who was injured in the drawn game and in an interesting development, moved No.8 Brian McLoughlin to the centre with first round try scorer Mikey Wilson moving to No. 8.
The encounter started well for the Tipperary men when after just 2 minutes flanker Jack Kennedy, who took charge of the kicking duties in Johnston’s absence, put Rockwell 3-0 ahead after CBC were penalised for offside just outside their own 10 metre line. Rockwell continued to press CBC in the early stages and undeterred by the home side’s huge support, almost nicked a try in the corner after 12 minutes after a great run by No.8 Mikey Wilson after he was set up by Mcloughlin.
Just three yards short of the line however a great tackle form the returning CBC winger Ben O’Callaghan who missed the drawn encounter through illness forced the big Rosegreen man into touch.
CBC finally got back on level terms after 14 minutes when Rockwell were penalised for off side about 10 metres into their own half and Michael O’Halloran was once again flawless with his kicking to tie the scores at 3-3. Rockwell put pressure on CBC from the restart which saw them bring play inside the CBC 22. From the resultant throw CBC hooker James Humphries was penalised for a crooked throw and the resultant free kick saw Rockwell maul over from 5 yards with converted centre Brian Mcloughlin getting the vital touchdown. Kennedy failed to add the conversion the only blemish on his fine kicking record all afternoon.
Rockwell failed to build on their five point lead and it was CBC who attacked the Rockwell line. The Corkmen put together a succession of drives inside the Rockwell 22 and after Rockwell failed to clear, CBC hooker James Humphries touched down for the Corkmen even if there was a suspicion of a knock on in the build up. O’Halloran added the extra to put the Christians 10-8 to the good.
However a bigger disaster was to emerge for Rockwell just four minutes later. In search of an equaliser they spread the ball out wide on the CBC 10 metre line. CBC centre Oisin Conway read Rockwell’s game plan superbly and intercepted scrum half Daryl Egan’s pass before running almost 70 yards with the ball and adding a second try for the Corkmen. O’Halloran exacted maximum retribution to leave the half time score at 17-8.
Many Junior sides would have rolled over facing such a deficit but Rockwell kept going and two early second half penalties put them right back in contention at 17-14. However Rockwell’s comeback was halted after 11 minutes when after a succession of phases inside the Rockwell 22 Oisin Conway scored his second try for the Corkmen. O’Halloran failed with the conversion attempt to leave the score at 22-14.
Try as the might Rockwell couldn’t get within scoring range in the closing minutes as CBC continued to press for a try to see off the Rockwell challenge. In a last throw of the dice McLoughlin was restored to No. 8 with Tim Brennan coming in on the wing and Jack Binchy going to the bench. In the last minute the move paid dividends when after a succession of drives and some superb carries by second row Conor Cashman inside the CBC 22, outhalf Stephen Quirke got in for his second try of the tournament and although Jack Kennedy converted the clock beat Rockwell and it is CBC who will meet Crescent Comprehensive from Limerick City in the Semi-Final.
Rockwell: S Quirke (Clonmel), C Manton (Fethard), L Molloy (Waterford City), B Ryder (New Zealand), K Moynihan (Cork), B McLoughlin (Kilfeacle) D Egan (Clara/Bahrain), N Campion (Clonmel), B Murray (Fethard), J Tierney (Cashel), J Binchy (Clonmel), C Cashman (Cahir), J Kennedy (Clonmel), D Fehilly (Clonmel, Capt) and M Wilson (Rosegreen). Replacements : T Brennan (Clonmel) for Binchy (53), J Kendrick (Cahir) for N Campion (55) , L Devereaux (Cahir) for J Kennedy inj 56 mins. Replacements not used H Gilbert (Clonmel), C Beary (Cork), M Irwin (Clonmel), K Looby (Cahir) & J Stone (Cork). Referee: Shane Kierans (MAR).