ARDSCOIL Ris’ dream of securing a first Munster Schools Senior Cup success were shattered by Rockwell College in their final showdown before an estimated attendance of 7,000 at Thomond Park on St Patrick’s Day.
Ardscoil, who were making their second successive final appearance and just their third ever, fought back bravely to trail by just three points, 13-16, with five minutes left.
Having pulled off stunning late comebacks in wins over Cork sides, CBC and PBC in the previous rounds, Ardscoil’s hopes remained very much alive, even more so when Rockwell’s outstanding out-half Bill Johnston was sin-binned.
However, it was then that the Tipperary side showed their mettle, overcoming the loss of their out-half to that yellow card to score the game’s decisive try through their excellent flanker Bryan McLaughlin. Full-back Tom McHale duly added the conversion to seal Rockwell’s 26th Munster Schools Senior Cup success.
Ardscoil Ris, who were forced to line-out without two key members of their pack, Tom Walsh and Jerry McCabe through injury, were dealt another injury blow in the 12th minute when centre Jack O’Donnell was forced off after picking up a knock.
Unsurprisingly, given the size of the prize at stake, the opening quarter was error-ridden with neither side gaining a firm grip on the game.
Rockwell out-half Johnston, brother of UL-Bohs’ star David, and Ardscoil Ris out-half Conor Fitzgerald traded penalty goals inside the opening 28 minutes to leave the sides tied at 3-3.
However, Rockwell were 10-3 up at half-time , through a 31st minute try from flanker Mikey Wilson which was converted by Johnston.
Fitzgerald kicked a 51st minute penalty to reduce the Tipp side’s lead to four, 10-6. However, two further Johnston penalties had Rockwell 16-6 to the good on the hour.
Spirited Ardcoil fought back impressively with flanker Ian Brown touching down in the 65th minute and Fitzgerald converting to leave three points between the sides. However. McLaughlin’s late try sealed victory for Rockwell.
SCORERS: Ardscoil Ris: Ian Brown try, Conor Fitzgerald two pens, con. Rockwell College: Mikey Wilson, Bryan McLaughlin try each, Bill Johnston three pens, con, Tom McHale con.
ARDSCOIL RIS: Darren Gavin; Nathan Randles, Jack O’Donnell, Peader Collins, Marcus McManemy; Conor Fitzgerald, Hugh Bourke; Andy Coffey, Ty Chan (Capt), Pierce Lyons; Barra O’Byrne, Ronan Coffey; Oisin Bernard, Ian Brown, Darragh Ryan. Replacements: Conor Cannon, Jack Sexton, Luke Moylan, Diarmuid Scannell, Stephen Monaghan, Evan Cusack, Liam Brock, Patrick Ryan.
ROCKWELL COLLEGE: Tom McHale; Diarmuid Gallagher, Lee Molloy, Conor Cashman, Kieran Moynihan, Bill Johnston, Daryl Egan, Niall Campion, Ben Murray, James Kendrick; Sean O’Connor (Capt), Jack Binchy; Mikey Wilson, Bryan McLaughlin, Mike Casey. Replacements used: Diarmuid Barron, Conor Beary, Jack Tierney, John Power.
REFEREE: George Clancy (IRFU)