Line-out action from Glenstal Abbey's Munster Schools Senior Cup final victory over CBC at Musgrave Park
INDOMITABLE Glenstal Abbey deservedly claimed the Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Senior Cup title for the first time in their history with a thrilling 18-17 final victory over CBC, of Cork, at Musgrave Park this Sunday.
An excellent second half display which saw the Murroe side score two well-executed tries proved the catalyst to their first final success in their 79 years competing at this level.
The well-drilled Murroe side, which has a student population of just 255, were far more convincing winners than the tight final scoreline might suggest.
Motivated no doubt by the final defeat against PBC 12 months ago, Glenstal produced a terrific display of attacking, open rugby in their third ever final appearance, but their defence was excellent too.
The sides were deadlocked 3-3 at half-time on a bitingly cold day which included flurries of snow.
Glenstal had five ‘survivors’ from the Pres’ final defeat 12 months ago, including back-rowers Conor Booth and Mark Fleming, hooker George Downing, winger Ronan Quinn and captain and out-half Ben Healy.
Up to six members of the starting line-up in Sunday’s showpiece final are from Limerick, flying winger Ronan Quinn and influential back-rower Mark Fleming, both Adare, as well as centre Caolan Dooley from Newcastle West, scrum-half Andrew Walsh from Murroe, flanker Ronan Leahy, from Ballyneety, and second-row James Fitzgerald, also from Adare.
Prior to their impressive quarter-final win over Crescent College Comprehensive, Glenstal Abbey had defeated Bandon Grammar School in the quarter-final, while overcoming Rockwell College in the opening round.
The new Senior Cup winners boast an impressive backroom team with Sean Skehan, a former Leinster Schools Senior Cup medal winner with St Michael's as head coach, together with assistant coaches Tom Hayes and Kelvin Brown, of Shannon RFC, and Noel Davis and Jamie Gavin.
Glenstal, backed by the strong wind in the opening half, enjoyed the lions share of possession and territory. However, in bitingly cold, windy, both sides took time to settle down.
The Murroe side did have the chance to open the scoring in the 18th minute but captain Ben Healy was off target with a penalty attempt on the CBC ‘22 in the swirling wind.
From their first foray into the Glenstal ‘22 the Cork side created the first decent try-scoring opportunity of the game.
Centre Eoghan Barrett, who scored two tries in their semi-final win over PBC, made a stunning 50 metre break up the middle of the pitch. However, a terrific cover tackle from Glenstal full-back Aran Egan prevented Barrett from adding to his try tally.
The Cork side did hit the front after 27 minutes when full-back Robert Hedderman slotted a straight forward penalty goal from in front of the posts.
However, Glenstal Abbey were level by half-time when out-half Healy was on target with a difficult penalty attempt from 30 metres out towards the right touchline.
Given the strength of the wind, you wondered whether the Limerick side needed to be in a more favourable position at half-time.
Glenstal did grab the first score of the second half, however, when Healy landed his second penalty goal on 43 minutes after a smashing break by Andrew Hogan off a clever inside pass.
Six minutes later Glenstal struck for the opening try of the game.
Off a line out, powerful number eight Mark Fleming made a powerful surge up the middle of the pitch to earn favourable field position, before centre Caolan Dooley eventually touched down in the right corner as the East Limerick side converted a three on two overlap.
However, CBC hit back immediately with a try as Glenstal failed to deal properly with the restart. Winger Adam O'Connor powered his way deep inside the Glen' '22 and replacement prop Robert Loftus dotted down for the Cork side. Hedderman’s conversion made it a one-point game at 11-10.
The score only seemed to spur Glenstal on and they quickly struck back for their second try of the game. Flying winger Ronan Quinn made a powerful surge up the middle of the pitch, before Glenstal worked the ball through multiple phases as Healy, replacement Ronan Hanly and prop Patrick Prendegast linked up to get within touching distance of the CBC tryline.
Prop Prendergast then dotted down from close range, with Healy landing a superb conversion.
CBC did grab a late consolation score, but this was Glenstal’s day and a truly historic one.
SCORERS: Glenstal Abbey School: Caolan Dooley, Patrick Prendergast try each, Ben Healy two pens, con. CBC: Robert Loftus, Matthew Bowen try each, Robert Hedderman pen, con.
GLENSTAL ABBEY SCHOOL: Aran Egan; Andrew Hogan, Harry Benner, Caolan Dooley, Ronan Quinn; Ben Healy (Capt), Andrew Walsh; Harry Boland, George Downing, Patrick Prendergast, David Kelly, James Fitzgerald, Ronan Leahy, Conor Booth, Mark Fleming. Replacements: Padraic Mulligan, Donagh Hyland, John Ashe, Niall Queally, Mark Walsh, Brian Leonard, Scott MacKeown, Mark O’Farrell, Ronan Hanly, Bill Fitzgerald.
CHRISTIANS BROTHERS COLLEGE: Robert Hedderman; Matthew Bowen, Eoghan Barrett, Tommy Downes, Adam O’Connor; Eoin Monahan, Jack O’Riordan; Mark Donnelly, Daniel O’Connor, Luke Masters, Anthony Ryan, Cian Hurley, John Willis, Ronan Barry, Ben Roche (Capt). Replacements: Charlie Rasmussen, David Good, Robert Loftus, Dylan McAulliffe, Scott Buckley, Louis Kahn, Daniel O’Hara, Cian Whooley, Killian Coghlan, Harry O’Riordan.
REFEREE: Shane Kierans (MAR)