IT’S a huge 24 hours for Cork’s PBC and CBC as they travel to face stiff Limerick opposition in their attempts to reach the finals of the Pinergy Munster Schools Junior and Senior Cups.
Pres are first into the Lion’s Den of Thomond Park this afternoon, when they put their junior title on the line against St Munchin’s at 3.30 after the other semi-final, which is an all-Limerick affair between Ardscoil Ris and Castletroy College at 1pm.
Then, it’s Christians’ turn, tomorrow, in their eagerly anticipated senior cup replay against the holders Crescent College Comprehensive which kicks-off at 2pm with a prize of a place in the Tuesday March 14 decider against Pres at Musgrave Park at the same time.
Pres captured their 30th junior title last season to stretch their lead at the top of the roll-of-honour to 10 with St Munchin’s chasing an eight title, having last held the trophy in 2020.
The Cork school had a successful qualifying tournament and began the defence of their title with a 27-14 win over Rockwell at Musgrave Park.
Flanker Cormac Bohan crossed for the first of his brace of tries, converted by centre Daniel Murphy for a 7-0 lead before the Rock levelled only for Pres to scored twice more on the run-in to the interval.
Prop Fionn O’Sullivan made it 12-7 and the strong running number 8 Tom Murray bagged the third try, Murphy adding the extras for a 19-7 half-time advantage.
The Tipperary school cut the margin with a second converted try, but Pres hit back with a Murphy penalty and the conversion of Bohan’s second try for an impressive win.
They are captained by scrum-half Frankie Og Sheahan, son of former Munster and Ireland hooker Frankie, and it’s a well-balanced side, who are hoping to join the seniors in the final.
St Munchin’s, who have Dan Foley at number 8, son of the late and great Anthony, lost to Castletroy by 18-16 in round 1, but rebounded to overcome Crescent in the winner-take-all encounter, Dan among the try scorers in a 20-10 triumph.
It’s a repeat of the epic senior battle between the schools last week, when Pres survived a courageous fightback from St Munchin’s, who whittled the 25-point lead down to six and came close to snatching a dramatic try at the posts in injury-time.
This is Christians’ third appearance in the senior cup and both games featured stunning comebacks with the Cork school benefitting the first day against Pres but being on the receiving end in the dramatic 15-15 draw against Crescent.
It was a very strange game, the Limerick visitors dominating possession and territory for a good chunk of the first-half, but turning around 8-0 in arrears, unable to take advantage of seven successive penalties awarded against Christians.
Full-back Ben Lynch opened the scoring with a penalty before hooker Adam Wrona forced his way over for the first try.
Eoin O’Callaghan eventually opened Crescent’s account with a penalty at the start of the second-half, but Christians replied with an opportunist try from right wing Chris Barrett after Alex O’Connell collected a loose ball.
Lynch converted for a 15-3 lead in the 40th minute and it remained that way approaching the end, when Crescent stormed back to score two tries in three minutes and land a touchline conversion to force a second meeting.
Cathal Lanigan-Ryan, one of seven substitutes introduced by Crescent, who also made a series of positional switches, kick-started the late drama with a try from a well-worked short penalty though O’Callaghan missed the conversion.
He made amends, however, in the grand manner with a try at the Dolphin end corner after full-back Jed O’Dwyer carved out the opening and then splitting the uprights with a superb conversion.
A bruising tie took a toll with Christians also looking to the bench and making seven alterations, as well, but there’s a major injury concern surrounding their number 8 and captain Eanna McCarthy, who limped off during the second-half.
Crescent also have injury issues in the pack and finding the right balance behind is another matter to occupy their coaching team while Christians will look for a quicker start on this occasion and not be on the back foot for so long again.