ST MUNCHIN'S College booked their place in the semi-finals of this season's Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Senior Cup following a thrilling 27-24 quarter-final victory over local rivals Castletroy College at the Markets Field on Wednesday afternoon.
The clinical Corbally side outscored their gritty opponents by four tries to three at the end of a hugely exciting contest which ebbed and flowed throughout.
St Munchin's prize for this hard earned but deserved success is a semi-final showdown with PBC at Musgrave Park on Wednesday, February 26, (kick-off time TBC)
The 2006 Senior Cup winners looked all set to enjoy a more comfortable afternoon when racing into a significant 27-10 advantage over their Limerick rivals with a little less than 10 minutes remaining.
However, 14 unanswered points from Castletroy, including two converted tries, set up a nervy finish at the Garryowen venue.
WATCH: One of @stmunchins three first half tries in their @ClaytonHotels Munster Schools Senior Cup 1/4 final tie v @CastletroyC at Markets Field #LLSport @Limerick_Leader @LimkLeaderSport #MSSC pic.twitter.com/TY6mdUMXfx— Colm Kinsella (@ckSportLeader) February 12, 2020
St Munchin's duly held on to their advantage during the final minutes to added time to claim victory.
Both sides deserve great credit for serving up such an entertaining contest as a result of their enterprising approach.
There was plenty of free-flowing rugby as the well-matched sides were rewarded the their industry and endeavour with seven tries over the 70 minutes.
St Munchin's College earned their passage into the quarter-finals on the back of a narrow victory over Ardscoil Ris in the previous round.
Castletroy, in contrast had suffered defeat in their previous outing against CBC, in Cork, but earned today's second chance at progressing to the semi-finals as a result of their top two finish in the round robin phase of the Senior Cup before Christmas.
WATCH: Out-half Alexander Wood, son of ex-Munster, Ireland & Lions hooker Keith, helps @stmunchins into 17-10 half-time lead v @CastletroyC in Munster Schools Senior Cup 1/4 final at Markets Field #LLSport @LimkLeaderSport @Limerick_Leader #MSSC pic.twitter.com/ffl3xuZRIY— Colm Kinsella (@ckSportLeader) February 12, 2020
St Munchin's made the better start to the derby fixture, taking a ninth minute lead. The Corbally side was awarded a penalty deep inside the Castletroy '22 and opted for a kick to the corner.
St Munchin's won clean possession from the resultant line-out and their powerful, well-executed maul took them over the Castletroy whitewash with hooker Jack Devanny dotting the ball down.
The conversion was off target as St Munchin's advantage remained at 5-0.
Back came Castletroy, however, as the Newtown school scored a try of their own on 17 minutes. From a scrum inside their opponents '22, Castletroy moved the ball right, before wily scrum-half Jack Oliver cleverly touched the ball down with the St Munchin's defence caught napping.
Oliver also converted the try for a 7-5 lead.
WATCH: @CastletroyC strike for opening half try v @stmunchins in @ClaytonHotels Munster Schools Senior Cup 1/4 final tie at Markets Field #LLSport @Limerick_Leader @LimkLeaderSport #MSSC pic.twitter.com/L9pzG4qY5F— Colm Kinsella (@ckSportLeader) February 12, 2020
However, the lead was short-lived as St Munchin's quickly replied with their second try of the game.
Out-half Alexander Wood, son of former Munster, Ireland and Lions hooker Keith Wood made an excellent break up the middle of the pitch. Alert scrum-half Donnacha O'Callaghan spotted space in behind the Castletroy defence and sent a neat grubber kick in behind, with speedy right winger Conor O'Shaughnessy winning the race to the touchdown.
The conversion was missed, but St Munchin's were 10-7 to the good after 23 minutes.
However, the see-saw nature of the scoring continued in the 27th minute when the reliable Oliver landed a smashing penalty from outside the St Munchin's '22 to tie the scores at 10-10.
The first half drama was far from done, however. A terrific individual try from St Munchin's winger James O'Brien, which saw him show a clean pair of heels to the Castletroy College defence after gaining possession close to the half-way line, had the Corbally side back in front at 15-10.
Out-half Wood duly converted to help his side into a 17-10 lead, five minutes before half-time. It was a lead they duly held onto until half-time.
The score remain the same until mid-way through the second half when Wood converted an excellent penalty with his trusty left boot to leave 10 points between the sides at 20-10.
WATCH: @stmunchins & @CastletroyC players applaud each other off pitch at full-time in today's Munster Schools Senior Cup 1/4 final. The Corbally side scored exciting 27-24 win to book semi-final spot v PBC in Cork #LLSport @Limerick_Leader @LimkLeaderSport #MSSC pic.twitter.com/tsJ6hC4EDE— Colm Kinsella (@ckSportLeader) February 12, 2020
St Munchin's took an even more firm grip on the game two minutes later when prop Kean Sheehy intercepted a Castletroy College pass, before scoring his side's fourth try of the game.
Wood's conversion left a significant 17 points between the sides at 27-10 after 54 minutes.
To their credit. Castletroy College continued to battle strongly and their endeavour was rewarded with a second try of the game, this time scored by winger Mark Lyons just before the hour mark.
Oliver also converted to reduce St Munchin's lead to 10 ponts at 27-17.
And Castletroy College had more than a sniff of pulling off a dramatic comeback when Jason Aylward and Mark Lyons combined to put scrum-half Oliver away up the left touchline and the exciting half-back duly touched down for the second time during the game.
Oliver converted the score for good measure to leave three points between the sides. However, time ultimately ran out on Castletroy's hopes of producing a stunning comeback.
SCORERS: St Munchin's College: Jack Devanny, Conor O'Shaughnessy, James O'Brien, Kean Sheehy try each, Alexander Wood two cons, pen. Castletroy College: Jack Oliver two tries, three cons, pen, Mark Lyons try.
ST MUNCHIN'S COLLEGE: Daragh McDermott; Conor O'Shaughnessy, Seamus McCarthy Burbage, Darragh Long, James O'Brien; Alexander Wood, Donnacha O'Callaghan; Kean Sheehy, Jack Devanny, Kieran Ryan; Graham Kirwan, Craig Finn; Joachim Clohessy, Evan Hickey, Liam Neilan. Replacements: Gus Harrington, Sean Nestor, Josh Egan, Nathan Walsh, Stephen Hayes, Jonathan Kelly, Darragh Slattery, Conor O’Brien Comerford, Kieran Tracey, Joshua Costello.
CASTLETROY COLLEGE: Evan O'Halloran; Louis Cunneen, Sam Hanrahan, Jason Aylward, Mark Lyons; Michael O'Hanrahan, Jack Oliver; Robert Magill, Dean McGinn, Jason McCormack; Samuel DenDikken, John Moloney; John Toland, Sean Quirke, Jamie McNamara. Replacements: Declan Aylward, Oisin O'Shea, Nesta Nyamakazi, Dylan McMahon, Paul O'Shea, Rhys Whyte, Luke Heuston, James Lammond, Adam Cummins, Cian Mulkern.
REFEREE: Joy Neville (MAR)