WATCH: Holders St Munchin's repel Castletroy rally to reach Munster Schools Junior Cup final

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent, at Thomond Park

Reporter:

Colm Kinsella, Rugby Correspondent, at Thomond Park

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ckinsella@limerickleader.ie

Holders St Munchin's repel Castletroy rally to reach Munster Schools Junior Cup final

Action from St Munchin's College's Clayton Hotel Munster Schools Junior Cup semi-final win over Castletroy College at Thomond Park this Wednesday

HOLDERS St Munchin's College powered their way into another Clayton Hotels Munster Junior Cup final after holding off a strong second half comeback from Castletroy to secure a thrilling 21-15 semi-final win at Thomond Park this Wednesday.

When clinical St Munchin's raced into significant 21-3 lead after 41 minutes, the Corbally side looked to have taken a decisive grip in an entertaining contest.

However, a brave Castletroy College side rallied strongly in the final quarter and two well-executed tries left the holders hanging on to a six point lead with still five minutes remaining.

It was then that two-time Junior Cup winners St Munchin's showed their mettle, repelling Castletroy's best efforts to overhaul them late on and the Corbally side deservedly advanced to a March 27 final, this time against Rockwell College, semi-final winners over Crescent College later in the afternoon.

St Munchin's, impressive winners over CBC in the previous round in difficult wet and greasy playing conditions, made the better start on a cold, blustery afternoon.

Some excellent continuity play between backs and forwards created the opportunity for tighthead prop Gus Harrington to power over the Castletroy tryline from close range. It was Harrington's second try in as many Junior Cup games.

Talented out-half Cillian O'Connor duly added the extras for a 7-0 lead.

Castletroy, twice Cup winners in the past, stormed back into the contest in the 24th minute when their reliable goal-kicker, scrum-half Jack Oliver nailed a penalty kick from just outside the '22.

St Munchin's continued to shade the game in terms of both territory and possession.

The Corbally side, which claimed the Cup for the first time in 20 years last season, increased their advantage just before half-time when grabbing their second try of the afternoon.

This time it was their influential second-row Stephen Hayes, also a tryscorer against Christians, who barged his way over the whitewash from close range.

O'Connor's successful conversion made it 14-3 to the holders at half-time.

St Munchin's took a firm grip on the game 10 minutes after the restart when striking for their third try. Second-row Hayes began the move with a powerful surge, before the ball was quickly spread to left winger Ryan Naughton who showed a terrific turn of space to score.

O'Connor's successful conversion guided the winners into an 18-point lead.

However, Castletroy came roaring back and tries from their excellent flanker Reece Kelly and substitute Harry Lynch, one of which was converted by Oliver, set up a grandstand finish.

However, Ger Slattery's St Munchin's side held their nerve and their opponents out to advance to the province's showpiece schools U16 final later this month.

CASTLETROY COLLEGE: Stephen Kiely; Lee Morgan, Cillian O’Farrell, Aiden Walter, Adam Cummins; Gavin Rowsome, Jack Oliver; Adam Sands, Declan Aylward, Neil McLoughlin; Evan O’Connell, Oisin O’Shea; Rhys Whyte, Reece Kelly, Lee Burke. Replacements: Conor Davies Molloy, Andrew Clinton, Oisin Toland, Lee Bennett, Jack Roche, Noel Clancy, Luke Heuston, Harry Lynch, Glen Ryan, Rory Collins.             

ST MUNCHIN'S COLLEGE: James O'Brien; Oisin Pepper, Joshua Costelloe, Liam Angermann, Ryan Naughton; Cillian O'Connor, Kieran Tracey; Mikolaj Imbierowski, Harry Bennis, Gus Harrington; Shane Hannan, Stephen Hayes; Shane Griffin, Kevin Rea, Konrad Jezierski. Replacements: Conor O’Brien, Rhys Costello, Benjamin Dillon, Michael Kelly, Dean McNamara, Evan Moore, Gordon Wood, James Madden.

REFEREE: Paudie Sheehan (MAR)