1st XV v Belfast Harlequins (H) by D O’Brien 02.01.2016
St Mary’s College RFC V Belfast Harlequins RFC
AIL Division 1B
Saturday 2nd January 2016.
A Very Scrappy New Year to St Marys it was, for the first 30 minutes, thereafter it became A Very Happy New Year, to St Marys as the team went on to flit, fleet-footedly, through wet pastures and determined defenders to stack up 38 points.
After the inimitable Smythy’s lunchtime delivery of his entertaining and comprehensive valedictory speech in reply to president Declan’s fine introduction, the win was fitting repayment to him by his team. The victory was also a heartening start for new head coach Jamie Cornett, whose coaching contribution during the past few years’ apprenticeship to Smythy has been both positive and impressive. Jamie is a most affable and approachable young man who is highly respected and liked by his players and fellow coaches. He will receive widespread support and goodwill throughout the club. Everyone will hope for his success and enjoyment of his role.
In addition to Smythy’s departure, the team also lost their talented fullback Ray Crotty, who is emigrating, he will be missed. It is good to report the return, if only temporarily, of last year’s player of the year, Dylan Fawcett, who showed his usual almost terrifying commitment.
It was clear that Christmas and its wake had had a desultory effect on the team as the visitors took the initiative early on. It was only after spending most of the first quarter of the game well in their own half and having given away six penalties, two converted, that the home team sprang into action. Then, it was supercharged stuff all the way, with fast rucking, strong scrummaging, good vectors taken, and determined running. Each of the 20 played his part. There were commendable performances in forwards and backs. Up front, Ciaran Ruddock was the most impressive (and scored two tries, one mauled and one from a fine individual break), Brian Mc Govern was a rock. Once again, the often unseen and unsung hero, Barry O’Flanagan, made much good happen and prevented much bad happening. Hugh Kellegher has the look of a warrior, and will improve. One who has improved steadily all season, Mark Fallon, well, he scored two tries too (one from the back of the scrum and one from an impromptu, hard individual drive for the line).
The half backs were gliding, with Robbie Glynn guiding operations, smoothly serving his runners and his kicking was notably accurate. Speaking of kicking, what name can you give a man who converts five tries, kicks a penalty and runs a backline? ………….Sean Kearns!
Since he has been released by Leinster to play for his beloved club again, Darragh Fanning has been superlative every game, and today was no exception, well maybe even better. He was the one who kept it all together early on, and throughout mounted penetrative attacks. Defenders find it nigh on impossible to deal with him. Today, he covered the pitch like a demented groundsman looking for weeds. He is just a great player. He had to be my MoM.
A quick word about Belfast Harlequins, it is dispiriting to be beaten, 38 – 13, yet, they never stopped trying, they fought every millimetre of the way. There was not a man in the ground who was not pleased to see them score their deserved late try. This is a particularly young side with promising players, they will develop into a fine team in time and come to the top. All teams know lows; and those lows often make the highs so much better later on. St Marys have a close friendship with Quins and we wish them the best for the future.
We remain on top of the table, two points ahead of close rivals Ballymena, with Dublin University just behind in third. It appears that those three may well fight to the end for top spot and automatic promotion, but next week we play fourth placed Old Wesley, away on Donnybrook’s all weather pitch. Old Wesley, having lost heavily today will be looking to tear into us and we must be particularly careful. And, you must be there. We will be hoping to have Skipper, Rob Sweeney, Kevin Sheahan, Hugo Kean and David Aspil back for the game, with a possibility of David Fanagan also joining them.
A new year has arrived, 2016, it is my true wish that all of you who support St Mary’s College RFC enjoy every day and every match. I also wish every team in our club enjoyment and camaraderie and let us all hope that the club returns to AIL Division 1A.
My New Year resolution is, to continue to avoid using dreadful Americanisms such as, “and hey” as used by some of our professional rugby journalists
2 mins, penalty, S Fallon, 19 minutes penalty M Best, 29 minutes penalty M Best, 31 minutes try D O’Connor, Half Time 10 – 6.
52 minutes try M Fallon, 62 minutes try M Fallon, 63 minutes try C Ruddock, 68 minutes try C Ruddock, (all converted S Kearns) 75 minutes try J Siri (con M Best).
The Squad (Rolling substitutions)
15 R Crotty, 14 R O’Loughlin, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 I Dineen, 11 D Fanning, 10 S Kearns, 9 R Glynn, 8 M Fallon, 7 B O’Flanagan, 6 H Kellegher, 5 D O’Connor, 4 C Ruddock (Capt.), 3 E Ferron, , 2 D Fawcett, 1 B McGovern, Richie Sweeney, T O’Reilly, I Cullinane, S Toal-Lennon, T Kennedy.