Garryowen FC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1A
Saturday 12th November 2016.
Emotions in rugby run from elation to dejection. Today it was exasperation. To have scored ten worthy tries in two games and to have lost both is frustrating for the team and supporters. However, it is indicative of the abilities of the group to score. It is important not to lose confidence or resolve. In fact the efforts made in the last quarter were commendable and of highest quality. Today many factors worked against us and most of these will not pertain again, it should be hoped. On the other hand it has to be accepted that there were lapses in concentration and drops in intensity, holes appearing, critical tackles missed, and failures to execute. To be blind to these facts would make remedial action impossible.
The Marys’ scrum was emphatically dominant and was a potent weapon capable of producing scores. However, early in the second half when this became a clear factor, Garryowen failed to produce a fit replacement prop when required. This lead to non-contested scrums, so negating this potency. They then had to play with a man short, as they were not allowed replace the prop with a non-prop.
It seemed very unfair that the wrong man was given a yellow card early in the second half, and even more so, when that key man had received a yellow earlier and so was sent off. That left his team with a player down. Garryowen’s loss of a man due to non-contested scrums, helped balance this to some extent.
These are facts, obviously the coaches will not be whining, but setting about correcting failings and sharpening further the strong points and potencies. Good to relate that we remain in sixth position on the table, one ahead of Garryowen. There are two weeks before we entertain Lansdowne, at home under lights on 25th November.
Besides the scrum, the lineouts had a mixed day for us; generally our rucking was competitive. There were moments of exhilarating and high quality rugby from both sides and some good performances. In the forwards, Kevin Sheahan was a paragon, he was everywhere he should be, in both attack and defence. He has intelligent anticipation. He contributed handsomely going forward, often sacrificing himself, especially when having to take ball from the back of non-contested scrums. In defence, he was clamp-like in the tackle and he sealed off many gaps. His overall contribution was vital and he had to be the recipient of the SoftCo MoM Award. It has also been a pleasure watching the integration and sparkle of Cathal O’Flaherty proceed. Today he was most industrious and effective, in the lineout and in the open milieu and he scored a try. He had a fine game and now is of major importance to the team. Garryowen present a compact team and their gambit of using big men in the middle running straight and hard, worked well for them. To their distinct advantage they still maintain the stratagem of delaying all restarts, by every possible indirection. This breaks the rhythm and pace of the game, and the concentration of their opposition.
St Marys started very well and attacked continuously for the first four minutes and this delivered a good try from hard working David O’Connor, following a series of drives. Conor Dean converted and we looked to be set fair. However, almost immediately the home team rebounded with a try, and they followed with three more in the first half, finding holes and miss-matches and had some good fortune. Marys also lost Hugh Kellegher to injury, when he had showed developing influence. The half ended 22 – 7.
The second half was six minutes old, when the visitors added a penalty through Conor Dean and a revival looked on, 22 – 10. However, a real set back occurred two minutes later. A kick ahead caused a slight mix up in the Marys’ cover, the ball went loose in front of these players when a supporting Marys’ player kicked the ball in an off side position and was rightly penalised. Much to the surprise of all, a penalty try was awarded and the referee gave a yellow card to David Fanagan, who had previously received a yellow; so it became a red. He was not the player involved. Later the referee realised this was the case; this was little benefit to David or his team. David was badly missed, especially late in the half when the game had broken up and was very suitable to his abilities. The score went to 29 – 10. It was 51 minutes when we got a penalty to the corner and a lineout taken led to a maul, many of the team joined in and Nick McCarthy scored, 29 – 17. On 56 and 59 minutes Garryowen scored two converted tries and it was 43 – 17.
This signalled a call to arms, and credit to the Marys lads they seized the reins and drove themselves relentlessly forward, running the ball with abandon. Cathal O’Flaherty scored a very good converted try. Two converted tries followed, both involving all-in mauls, after penalties to the corner. Ryan O’Loughlin and Tommer O’Reilly got over. With the score at 43 – 38 Marys made frantic efforts to gain that final winning and redemptive score. With fresh replacements, such as Ciaran Ruddock on, they ran from everywhere and from all angles. Unfortunately most of the efforts were from too far out and we failed to break the defensive bonds. It ended 43 – 38.
It would be folly to blame or cry. This is a good time in the season to pause and ponder, rather than when too late. Reflection, remedial action and hard-working preparation are required. With a wise DoR and two deeply committed, skilful and respected coaches ready to act, we will get it right. It has also to be understood, that we have a severe injury list and suitable substitution insertions are often difficult to make. We have, Caelan Doris, Mark Fallon and Darragh Keller, important back row players out, high quality Hugo Kean from the front row and from the backline we have important Sean Kearns, Ivan Dineen, Marcus O’Driscoll, Terry Kennedy and Jordan Larmour all missing. We will get these back slowly and with them increased choice and diversity. Ever onward we go.
Team (including rolling replacements) 15 D Fanagan, 14 D Moroney, 13 P Lavelle, 12 R O’Loughlin, 11 C Hogan, 10 C Dean, 9 P O’Driscoll; 8 K Sheahan, 7 D Aspil, 6 H Kellegher, 5 C O’Flaherty, 4 D O’Connor, 3 B McGovern (Capt), 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, S O’Brien, N Murphy, C Ruddock, N McCarthy I O’Neill.