ST Mary's College edged past St Gerard's in a highly competitive encounter at Lakelands.
Leading by four points at the break St Mary's were pinned in their own half in a tense final quarter as their defence was stretched to breaking point at times. However, they held their opponents at bay, denying them on the line twice and maintaining their narrow lead until the end.
St Gerard's out-half Tommy Whittle drew first blood when he kicked his team into the lead midway through the first half as St Gerard's took the game to St Mary's from the opening whistle.
That score, however, seemed to invigorate the favourites and Mary's began to exert their control in the second quarter.
The power of St Mary's front-row eventually paid dividends five minutes before the end of the first half when loosehead prop Mick Fitzgerald benefited from a terrific maul to push over for the game's decisive score.
John Delany added the extras to leave his side 7-3 up at the break.
Just before the break St Mary's lost their influential captain Tom Lynch and his absence was felt in the latter stages of the second period. St Gerard's managed to get back on top in the closing stages only to be repelled by resolute and at times heroic defending by the victors in a bruising finale.
ST MARY'S – T Kennedy; M Oppermann (M Talbot 65), D Matthews, B Hoey, S McCahill; J Duffy, J Delany (M Fogarty h-t); M Fitzgerald, J Finnegan, C Whelan, C Corcoran, H Diepman, N Curran, G Kenny, T Lynch (capt, P Fogarty 46) .
ST GERARD'S – M Prendergast; A Simmonds, C Callan, R Toal-Lennon, A Lynch; T Whittle, P Kelly (K McCarthy 53); N Byrne, J Ryan (capt), T Kenna, B Fitzpatrick, C Doyle (J McGuire 37), D King, D Smyth, C Kenny.
REF – T Townend