Fitzgerald try crucial as Pres bridge five-year title gap
PBC (Cork) 17 Crescent Comp (Limerick) 12 Munster Schools Jnr Cup final
Record winners PBC claimed a 29th title at Temple Hill after they withstood a late onslaught from Crescent College Comprehensive.
Leading 17-5 after Cian Fitzgerald's 41st-minute try had been converted by James Broderick, Pres looked set for an easy victory, but Crescent, who had been on the back foot for much of the match, upped their game considerably.
They applied a lot of pressure close to the Pres line and replacement Mark Fitzgerald eventually made that pay when he crossed in the left corner. When full-back Brian Ryan nailed a brilliant conversion from the sideline, just five points separated the sides and Crescent scented the chance to repeat their victory of two years ago.
They forced a turnover and Ryan set Daniel Hurley away. He showed a great burst of pace to make headway, but he was forced out of play just inside the 10-metre line and Pres were champions for the first time in five years.
It was a deserved victory as, apart from the opening 10 minutes, PBC carried a greater attacking thrust and would have been further clear, but for some wastefulness from penalties.
With Hurley prominent, Crescent went for the jugular early on, opting to go for the corner with a kickable penalty, but that came to nothing and Pres gradually settled.
Broderick put Pres in front with a penalty in the 16th minute and five minutes later, after captain Jack O'Shea found touch with a penalty, scrum-half Harry Shanahan took control from the line-out and fed Peter Sylvester, whose pass allowed O'Shea to touch down. Broderick added the extras. In first-half injury-time, Crescent finally got on the scoreboard, Hurley playing in Aaron Cosgrove to make it 10-5 at the interval.
Two penalties were squandered by Pres early in the second half and Crescent lost prop Jack Henchy to a yellow card, but it was not until the 40th minute that the winners pulled clear. After working through the phases, with second-row Conor O'Flynn impressing, Fitzgerald scored a try and then Broderick opened up a 12-point lead.
Though they were asked stern questions by Crescent in the closing stages, PBC were not to be denied.
PBC – M Healy; P Buckley, J Broderick, J O'Shea, M St Leger; P Sylvester, H Shanahan; N O'Brien, B Scannell (D O'Brien 58), K Morris, C O'Flynn, J O'Sullivan, B O'Connor, C Fitzgerald, J O'Sullivan.
CRESCENT COMP – B Ryan; K Brosnahan, D Hurley, M Shanahan (M Fitzgerald 48), A Cosgrove; M Hanley, B Fitzgerald; J Henchy, M Sheehan (E O'Halloran 48), SG Scanlon, S Leahy, P King, T Connolly, E Wixted (R McMahon 41), J Blake.
Ref – K Imbusch (MAR)