CBC were crowned Coca Cola Munster Schools Senior Cup champions after beating PBC by 11 points to 8 in a gripping final at Musgrave Park.
CBC were crowned Coca Cola Munster Schools Senior Cup champions after beating PBC by 11 points to 8 in a gripping final at Musgrave Park. Around 7,000 people turned up to watch, on a sunny but windy afternoon, and even those supporting the losing side would have left Musgrave Park enriched by the experience. It was one of those occasions when you just wished there didn't have to be a loser. As usual when these two schools clash, there was little or nothing between them, a point readily agreed by the rival coaches Peter Melia for Christians and Ian O'Leary of Pres. "You just have to be elated at the final whistle while tempering that kind of emotion with sympathy for the Pres lads," said Melia. "It may not have been a classic, but with such a close scoreline, it keeps everybody on the edge of their seats to the end," said Melia. "History shows once one of these sides gets ahead, the other comes rattling straight back so at 11-0 we never thought we were there." It's very satisfying for us in that this particular Christians team were beaten by Pres in the junior final three years ago, and it's the first time this team has actually won a trophy, they've been in every final and lost them all." Melia also made the point that his team won the game up front, and few would dispute that. Certainly, Ian O'Leary didn't disagree, and sportingly conceded: "At 11-8 the game was there for the taking, but in the last ten minutes, I thought they played a very clever game and were probably a little better than us under pressure. They did the right things. Their defensive kicking was better. At the end of the day, little things win these sorts of matches and we really have no complaints." A capricious wind that appeared to favour Christians from the kick-off was, in fact, blowing all over the place, and contributedlent its weight to the nerves felt by on both sides throughout the rip-roaring seventy minutes. Nevertheless, there were some sparkling openfield attacks, and Pres showed what they were capable of in the 16th minute when Donal Long, David Daly, Evan Ryan and Alex Kelleher combined in a surge into the Christians' 22. When the ball was recycled, David Kingston was just prevented from getting away what would almost certainly have been a scoring pass. Christians then demonstrated their class when scrum-half Duncan Williams featured prominently in a counter-attack which resulted in a Pres infringement, after which and a well-struck penalty by Eamon Ronan put his side three points in front after 21twenty one minutes. Ronan then had a dropped goal effort blocked down, and almost immediately a great break by Christians centre Karl Mitchell failed for want of support. David Kingston, the Pres full-back, suffered similar frustration, and then he delaying his drop goal attempt from close range and the chance was lost. Christians moved six points in front right on the break, when Williams found a raking touch, Christians snaffled the Pres throw and this time Ronan made no mistake with a smartly-taken drop goal. 6-0 ahead at the interval, the second period could hardly have opened on a more promising note for Christians. After only Three minutes after the interval, the Pres out-half Evan Ryan fumbled a pass in his own 22, Jonathan Harte broke from the resultant scrum, and fed his back-row colleague Michael Essex. He in turn did well to get away an overhead pass to right winger James O'Hanlon, who scampered over in the corner. Even though now Despite being 11 points in arrears, there was never any fear that Pres might capitulate. Instead, a lightning burst by winger Edward Mills carried play deep into the Christians' half, after which they produced a highly effective maul and rumbled over the line for Brian Barry to claim the touchdown. That was after 11 minutes, and battle was really joined five minutes later when Tom Gleeson narrowed the gap to three points with a close range penalty. To their great credit, however, Christians regrouped in commendable fashion. There was no sign of panic, rather a few inspiring touches, such as a lovely run by Mitchell that stretched Pres and helped to confine them to their own territory. That was until stoppage time when, true to character, they surged back into the attack and prop Martin Gateley, of all people, planted a delightful grubber kick into the right corner, which Christians were happy to scramble into touch. Although Pres won the subsequent line-out, they never really got the maul going. They then infringed at the subsequent scrummage and their last chance had gone. Christians jubilantly celebrated their 27th victory in the competition, and left leaving Pres sitting on the 25 mark and ruefully reflecting that the trophy hadn't adorned their sideboard since 1996. CBC: M.J. Ahern, J. O'Hanlon, J. McCarthy, K. Mitchell, G. Blower, E. Ronan, D. Williams, E. Ronan, J. Williams; D. Hurley, J. Kerins, R. Hasson, R. Noonan capt, A. Kelly, B. Holland, M. Essex, J. Harte. PBC: D. Kingston, F. Dennehy, T. Gleeson, A. Kelleher, E. Mills, E. Ryan, D. O'Leary, M. Gateley, J. Moynihan, B. Barry, C. Kennefick, S. Clinch, D. Daly, R. Geoghegan capt, D. Long. Replacement: D. Prendergast for Long 67 mins.