Presentation Brothers College 21 Christian Brothers College 19
PBC have progressed to the final of the Schools U19 Pinergy Munster Senior Cup in the most dramatic fashion as they edged past their great rivals Christians at Musgrave Park on Thursday afternoon.
Pres trailed by 12 points with just seven minutes remaining but tries from Sean Condon and former Cork minor hurling captain Ben O’Connor, who twice converted from the toughest of angles, ensured it was PBC who sealed their place in the showpiece occasion.
The other semi-final between Crescent College Comprehensive and Bandon Grammar School was due to go ahead at Tom Clifford Park in Limerick at the same time but it was ultimately postponed because the pitch was deemed to be unplayable.
Christians progressed directly into the last four after recording a 37-25 triumph over Bandon Grammar School in the Round 2 semi-final qualifier at the end of January.
Pres, who was also in a semi-final qualifier on the other side of the draw, lost out to Crescent College on the back-pitch of Thomond Park meaning they had to defeat St Munchin’s College in the quarter-final to reach this stage and they prevailed on a scoreline of 31-12.
These two schools shared the 2020 title due to the Coronavirus pandemic while they also faced off in this tournament’s last final back in 2019 where CBC emerged 5-3 victors following a titanic tussle.
In front of a huge local crowd, it was always going to be a similarly tight contest between these two fierce rivals and the first 28 minutes saw little action close to the end line.
Defences reigned supreme as Pres needed their backs to hold firm when Shane Maloney attempted to race clear in the 24th minute while Billy O’Riordan thought he had grabbed the opening try for Christians moments later but the referee had blown for a forward pass earlier in the build-up.
A relieved PBC responded well to that let-off and it was they who finally broke the deadlock just shy of the half an hour mark as Fionn Roussel, who also scored in their win over Munchins last time out, went down behind the posts after good work from Rory O’Shaughnessy.
Ben O’Connor made no mistake with the conversion.
But their hard-fought advantage would only last a few minutes as CBC provided the perfect riposte when Jack Casey’s try was given the all-clear after consultation amongst the officials with Daire Burke adding the extras to make it 7-7 at the half-time break.
Christians took that momentum into the second period and shortly after Daire Burke failed to edge his side in front with a penalty, he produced a brilliant kick into the corner where Benjamin Lynch rose highest to claim above his opponent before applying the finish.
Burke couldn’t tally the conversion on that occasion but he would following his own try in the 57th minute which looked like it would be enough to win the game for Christians as they led 19-7 at that juncture.
But you should never write Presentation Brothers College off as they refused to believe that this game was over.
They duly gave themselves hope after 63 minutes when after a quick passing move close to the goal, O’Connor eventually released Sean Condon allowing the number 11 to go down in the corner.
O’Connor remained composed and blasted over the conversion from a tight angle and deep into injury time, it was him that made the scores level with a great try.
Again he was the coolest man in the ground and from a similar position, he fired over the crossbar to send Pres into the final.