ROCKWELL powered their way to a sixth final in seven years, thanks to a highly impressive semi-final win over a gritty Glenstal Abbey side at Thomond Park.
Two second-half tries from centre Lee Molloy and flanker Bryan McLaughlin helped Rockwell secure a final showdown with Ardscoil Ris of Limerick.
While those two tries helped break Glenstal’s spirited resistance, the goal-kicking of Rockwell’s highly influential out-half Bill Johnston was another key factor in the Tipp side’s success. Johnston, who controlled the game superbly throughout, landed four penalty goals, two in either half.
Glenstal, who had beaten holders Crescent College in the previous round, had been hoping to reach their first final in 45 years. However, Molloy’s opening try four minutes into the second half, which propelled the winners into a significant two-score lead at 11-3, was a killer blow.
Glenstal were dealt another setback for the start of the second half when their talented play-maker, out-half Jack Stafford, was forced off with an injury.
Rockwell had opened the game impressively and Johnston rewarded that bright start when kicking his first penalty goal on five minutes.
While the Limerick side managed to make a couple of promising line-breaks, there were unable to finish them thanks to some terrific cover defence.
Rockwell, who led 6-3 at half-time, took a firm grip on the game with Molloy’s 39th minute try following sustained pressure.
While Johnston missed the conversion, the out-half added two further penalty goals on 52 and 58 minutes to stretch his side into a commanding 17-3 lead.
Rockwell’s big, abrasive pack grew more dominant as the half wore on as Glenstal were forced to chase the game and flanker Bryan McLaughlin rewarded their endeavour when dotting down late on.
ROCKWELL– T McHale; S Lanigan-Ryan (D Gallagher), L Molloy, C Cashman, K Moynihan (J Stone), B Johnston, D Egan (J Pickering); J Kendrick (C Beary), B Murray (D Barron), J Tierney (N Campion); S O’Connor (Capt), M Wilson; T Anglim (J Binchy), B McLaughlin, M Casey (J Power).
GLENSTAL ABBEY – C Hogan; G Daly (B Fleming), J McAleese, T Costigan (Capt), S O’Sullivan (D Kenny); J Stafford (M Boland), R Johnston; I Molloy (D Quane), M Ryan (P Molony), J Hartnett (J Williams), A Donohoe (R Clarke), B Clancy; N Mulvihill, J Murphy (W McGann), G O’Hara.
REF – K Barry (IRFU)