O'Brien stars as Roscrea stun fancied Terenure
A little bit of history was created at Tallaght Stadium when the home to Shamrock Rovers hosted its first Senior Cup quarter-final, but that paled into insignificance when measured against the drama that followed.
At the end of 80 absorbing minutes Cistercian College Roscrea qualified for the semi-final. It was a performance more convincing than the three-point winning margin might suggest.
Terenure, the pre-tournament favourites, looked to have stolen it deep into injury-time when Billy Dardis, for the second time in the half, appeared to have set Matthew Madigan racing free to the corner.
However, a slight hesitation on the part of the speedy winger – allied to some typically never-say-die Roscrea cover defending – sealed the first major shock of the competition to date.
That would seem the logical conclusion, yet such was the collective composure and control exerted by Roscrea right from the opening blast of Alain Rolland's whistle that there was nothing lucky about this massive win for a school still chasing its first outright success.
Irrespective of who they draw in the semi-final, this is a better, more powerfully balanced unit than the runners-up of 2011.
Put simply, this Roscrea group is more than capable of going the whole way.
The return of Sean O'Brien as skipper and No 8 has made such a difference not alone in freeing up Rory Maloney to play on the flank but also in providing a physical presence into which every other Roscrea player feeds.
Much like his illustrious namesake, this back-row forward is a raw colossus. He may not have registered on the scoreboard, but he influenced this match more than any other individual.
For Terenure it represented a hugely disappointing end to a highly promising season, but on this memorable occasion they were out-muscled and out-thought by a well prepared, highly focused force.
The league champions hit the ground running when out-half Tim Foley struck a penalty from wide on the left just five minutes in.
But the 'Nure gave a hint of their threat when, after 13 minutes, a steal at the ruck (which was to prove their primary source of quality possession throughout) saw Harrison Brewer, Niall O'Sullivan and Dardis all handle before Jack Swaine crashed over at the corner for a 5-3 lead.
They almost cut the Roscrea defence apart again when a slick inside pass from Gary Clarkin set Craig Trenier bullocking up the middle supported by both wings, Madigan and Jordan Lynch, but a classic smother tackle from Dwayne Corcoran snuffed the danger out.
It made for the only clear-cut chance as Roscrea dominated territory and field position, yet due in the main to Terenure's outstanding defence allied to some superb poaching at the breakdown, the better team in the opening period went in trailing at the break.
Just five minutes after the restart it appeared normal service had been resumed when a piece of Dardis magic opened the way for Madigan to touch down for a 10-3 lead.
But Roscrea continued unperturbed and when Foley took play up to the corner, the pack rumbled and Jacob Walshe crossed to narrow the gap to two.
Now the heat was on and with Moloney the central figure in taking play up to the 'Nure line, it was the flanker himself who crossed for what was to prove the match -winning try.
There was still the Madigan moment when the favourites appeared to have rescued it but on this memorable occasion there was one team and one outcome and it belonged to the boys from Roscrea.
They are going to take some stopping.
Terenure – B Dardis; M Madigan, H Brewer, S O'Neill (capt), J Lynch; J Swaine (R Church 65), G Clarkin (T Schmidt 58); S Borza (K Colgan 45), A Roche (J Carroll 70), C Trenier (T Creagh 45); R Somerville (M Murphy 65), R Lalor; N O'Sullivan, P Thornton, D Doyle.
Roscrea – F Higgins; T Carroll, C Brennan, D Corcoran, R Wharton; T Foley (C Gaffney 57), D Lavelle; J Walshe, C Gavin (P Ennis 70), O Heffernan; K Buckley, D Trayers; M Kelly, R Moloney, S O'Brien (capt).
REF – A Rolland (LRR).