There were scenes of wild celebration in Dorradoyle on Saturday as Castletroy College won the Munster Schools Junior Cup thanks to a 13-7 win Limerick rivals Crescent.
This was a win for Castletroy College, secured against the odds. Plucky Castletroy upset double-chasing Crescent College to secure their second Munster Schools Junior Cup title before a large attendance at Dooradoyle on Saturday.
While Castletroy College had fallen on leaner times following their own Senior and Junior double winning heroics of 2008, this impressive cup success catapults the Newtown right back up to the summit of schools rugby in the province.
Castletroy are deserving winners of the province’s premier U-16 schools competition, beating Glenstal Abbey, St Munchin’s College and Ardscoil Ris in the semi-final, before turning the tables on a highly regarded Crescent College side, who had been aiming to complete a magnificent Senior and Junior Cup double.
It was fitting that Castletroy should regain the Cup at this juncture, as the Munster Schools Junior Cup trophy honours the memory of the late Eamonn Mulcahy, a former teacher at Castletroy College, who was part of their successful Junior Cup backroom team of five years ago.
Castletroy College’s success was built around their magnificent pack. The contribution of their back-row trio of Darragh O’Neill, captain Niall O’Shea and David Rowsome was simply immense, while hooker, Mark O’Mara, nephew of former Munster and Ireland prop Peter Clohessy, and second row Eoin Hourigan were also outstanding.
Half-backs Jamie Heuston and Connor Fleming controlled the game superbly, especially in the opening half when Castletroy played into a stiff breeze.
Castletroy bossed the breakdown area all through, depriving their opponents of quick ball and forcing several turnovers. The winners’ game plan was simple, but highly effective.
While Castletroy’s line-out proved a reliable source of good quality possession all through, Crescent struggled in this facet of the game.
Crescent’s free-running back-line lit up the Junior Cup prior to Saturday’s final, but Castletroy’s defence shackled them superbly. Invariably, any time the likes full-back Glen Dickinson or threatening centres Billy O’Hora and Calvin Nash succeeded in making a line-break, Castletroy’s scramble defence managed to snuff out the danger.
While the winners deserve huge credit for the manner in which they played, the short four-day turnaround Crescent College had from their stunning semi-final replay win over CBC did appear to take its toll. The Dooradoyle side appeared flat for long stages. Equally, the weight of expectation and the opportunity to make history may well have weighed heavily on these young shoulders.
Castletroy laid the foundation for this win in the opening half, after which they enjoyed a 5-0 lead, despite playing against the breeze. After a nervy start from both sides, the opening score didn’t arrive until the 23rd minute.
From a line-out well inside the Crescent half, Castletroy’s second row Eoin Hourigan gathered clean possession and their pack, with hooker O’Mara leading the way, powerfully mauled their way up close to the line. While the initial onslaught was halted, flanker Niall O’Shea was on hand to dive over.
Castletroy moved 10-0 in front three minutes after the re-start when, following another expertly executed maul, back-row Darragh O’Neill pounced to score.
Crescent gave themselves a lifeline in the second minute of added time when powerful prop Anson Thai surged over for a well-taken try. Winger Conor McSweeney superbly landed the conversion. However, any prospects of an unlikely Crescent comeback were ended by a 64th minute penalty goal from Castletroy scrum-half Connor Fleming.
SCORERS – Castletroy College: Niall O’Shea, Darragh O’Neill try each, Connor Fleming pen. Crescent College Comprehensive: Anson Thai try, Conor McSweeny con.
CASTLETROY COLLEGE – Oisin Kelly; Shane Hogan, Ronan McDonnell, Colum Carroll, Sean McBrearty; Jamie Heuston, Connor Fleming; Joey Conway, Mark O’Mara, Conor Myers; Evan Slattery, Eoin Hourigan; Darragh O’Neill, Niall O’Shea (Capt), David Rowsome. Replacements: Alan McDonagh for O’Mara (temp 49-51 mins), Sean English for Slattery (58 mins), Luca Rider for O’Neill (60 +2 mins). Not used: Cathal Lee, David Kennedy, Kevin Davern, Patrick Tuite, Eoghan Carew.
CRESCENT COLLEGE COMPREHENSIVE – Glen Dickinson; Conor McSweeney, Billy O’Hora, Calvin Nash (Capt), Jordan Young-O’Connor; Cian Clifford, Jack Lyons; Anson Thai, Jason Barry, Sean Scanlon-Barry; Brian Considine, John Blake; Conor Slattery, Peter Hickey, Niall Mulcahy. Replacements: Joe Barry for Hickey, Luke O’Connell for Clifford (both 39 mins), Brian Ryan for Nash (injured, 56 mins). Not used: Killian Murphy, Ed Barry, Andrew Reeves, Sean Downes, Bailey Faloon.
REFEREE – Olly Hodges (MAR)