Crescent power way past city rivals to seal glory
Crescent CC 21 Ardscoil Ris 7
Crescent College Comprehensive retained their SEAT Munster Schools Senior Cup title following victory over Ardscoil Ris at Thomond Park last Monday.
The Dooradoyle side claimed the trophy for the 11th time when they proved too strong for Limerick city rivals Ardscoil Ris, 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 competition 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, with great rugby on display.
Nerves seemed to play a part early on, but once the game settled down there were some bright passages.
The line-out play from both sides was of a high quality and there were very few takes against the throw in the game.
Crescent's pack generally dominated – especially at one crucial stage of the second half when they were reduced to seven and Ardscoil won a scrum five metres from their line.
Amazingly, Crescent won the strike against the head and lifted that particular siege.
Crescent won because of their greater experience and also because they moved the ball better amongst their centres, who benefited from a good service by scrum-half 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 full-back Stephen Fitzgerald, who moved to out-half 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 backs always posed a threat, with wingers Calvin Nash and Jason O'Sullivan both a constant danger.
Crescent outscored Ardscoil Ris by three tries to one.
It took them 26 minutes to get their first try when skipper Blake made a burst through the middle. A brilliant hand-trip stopped him short, but he regained his footing to touch down near the posts.
Fionn McGibney converted and while Ardscoil 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 half-backs were involved before McGibney linked with full-back 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 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 Brown picked up and dived over for a try that David O'Mahoney converted.
Crescent CC – D Sheehan; J O'Sullivan, JJ O'Neill (J Harrington 69), W Leonard, C Nash (J Hogan 61); F McGibney, G Fitzgerald; M O'Donnell (M Rickard 64), C Moloney, L McMahon; R Scott, R Noone ( C Guerin 66); S Fitzgerald (E Barry 61), J Kavanagh, C Blake (capt).
Ardscoil RiS – S Fitzgerald (capt); B Moriarty, P McNamara, J O'Donnell, L Brock (L White 57); D O'Mahony, D Scannell (H Bourke); J O'Halloran, S Fenton, T Walsh (K Bracken); D Ryan, P Staff; J Cannon, J McCabe, K Brown.
REF – E Hogan O'Connell (MAR).