Crescent have final word over Ardscoil Rís
Holders retain title with dominant display in first ever all-Limerick final
The Crescent College team celebrates after winning the SEAT Munster Schools Senior Cup Final, Thomond Park, Limerick, yesterday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Crescent Comp 21
Ardscoil Rís 7
Crescent College Comprehensive won the Munster Schools Senior Cup for the eleventh time at Thomond Park yesterday when they proved too strong for Limerick city rivals, Ardscoil Rís who were appearing in their first final since 1996 and have never won the event.
Crescent completed their first back to back success in the event since 1990 and their target next year will be to win a three in a row for the first time.
It was a first ever All Limerick final in the 105-year history of the competition and it brought a terrific atmosphere and a big crowd but the quality of play was scrappy at times.
That was particularly the case early on when nerves seemed to play a part but once the game settled down there were some bright passages but defences were generally on top.
The lineout play by both sides was of a high quality and there were very few takes against the throw-in.
Crescent’s pack generally dominated and especially at one crucial stage of the second half whey they were reduced to seven and Ardscoil won a scrum five metres from their line.
Amazingly Crescent won the strike and lifted that particular siege.
Crescent won because of their greater experience and also because they moved the ball better amongst their three-quarters who benefitted from a good service by scrumhalf Gary Fitzgerald behind a pack who dominated.
Robert Scott and Cormac Blake were magnificent throughout and while Ardscoil had their stars they could not penetrate the Crescent defence and frequently lost possession with faulty passing, especially in the first half.
Everything attempted by Ardscoil centred round their outstanding captain and fullback Stephen Fitzgerald who moved to outhalf late on in a bid to salvage the game.
Ardscoil had excellent forwards in Jerry McCabe, Kelvin Brown and Jack O’Halloran but their efforts were not sufficient to turn the tide.
The Crescent three-quarters always posed a threat with wingers Calvin Nash and Jason O’Sullivan a constant danger.
Crescent outscored Ardscoil Rís by three tries to one. It took them 26 minutes to get their first try when skipper Cormac Blake made a burst through the middle. A brilliant handtrip stopped him short but he regained his footing to touch down near the posts.
Fionn McGibney converted and while Ard Scoil made an occasion foray into opposition territory they were well contained.
Just on half-time Crescent struck for a crucial second try – and a splendid effort it was. Both halfbacks were involved before McGibney linked with fullback Dylan Sheehan who sped over close enough for McGibney to convert.
Crescent’s Robert Scott was yellow carded early in the second half but even without him his side managed to win a strike against the head in a scrum near their line.
A try then might have turned the tide for Ardscoil but having weathered the storm Crescent got back in control.
Ardscoil’s Jerry McCabe was sinbinned 16 minutes from the end and Crescent wrapped it up with a try by Jason O’Sullivan which McGibney converted.
In fairness to Ardscoil they battled to the end and were rewarded when Kelvin Brown picked up and dived over for a try that David O’Mahoney converted.
CRESCENT COMPREHENSIVE: D Sheehan; J O’Sullivan, JJ O’Neill, W Leonard, C Nash; F McGibney, G Fitzgerald; M O’Donnell, C Moloney, L McMahon; R Scott, R Noone; S Fitzgerald, J Kavanagh, C Blake. Replacements: J Hogan for Nash, E Barry for Fitzgerald (both 61 mins), M Rickard for O’Donnell (64 mins), C Guerin for Noone (66 mins), J Harrington for O’Neill (69 mins).
ARD SCOIL RÍS: S Fitzgerald; B Moriarty, P McNamara, J O’Donnell, L Brock; D O’Mahony, D Scannell; J O’Halloran, S Fenton, T Walsh; D Ryan, P Staff; J Cannon, J McCabe, K Brown. Replacements: H Bourke for Scannell, K Bracken for Walsh, L White for Brock, all 57 mins.
Referee: E Hogan O’Connell (MAR).