St Mary’s College RFC V Cork Constitution RFC
AIL Division 1A
Saturday 27th January 2018.
Like a cork shooting from a champagne magnum, releasing the sparkling bubbles, so it was as the final whistle went, the exuberance and emotional effervescence of the sizeable crowd burst onto the terraces. That noisy crowd, answered the club’s call and made a major contribution to this signal win. It was all the more exciting as the crowd contained within, 25 or so heroes of the 2012 AIL winning squad, including the captain, commendable Hugh Hogan, and incomparable coach Peter Smyth. Well done to the great Chops and Marvelman Brophy who organised this reunion.
If this game was not perfect, it was the more admirable for all that, as it exemplified the profound courage and camaraderie of the squad and their commitment to their indomitable captain, Ciaran Ruddock. Behind for a considerable part of the game, it showed the determined mind of the team to fight incessantly; to defend with accuracy and ferocity and to produce magic flashes when it counted. The scrum was strong, the lineout again rickety, but there was a new pace to the game, a hunger in the loose and belief that shone. It was the contumacious defence however, that most of all ensured our deserved victory. Con contributed enormously to another memorable AIL game. Con remain second on the AIL League 1A table, and showed their value in a vibrant and even contest. Con too, scored tries of great quality, and were sporting to the end.
There were Marys’ performances of dazzling excitement and skill and there was sensible use of the rotation system. No man who carried the white star did not play his part to the utmost. Those who left the stage had performed with great acumen, then they were replaced with players of equal but different abilities.
Ronan Watters flowed and he flowed, he was a Torrent; this 18 year old lad, quiet and modest. Just put him on the field and press GO!. He was remarkable, in his first start at AIL level. He made innumerable tackles, he took six clean turnovers and he was involved in many plays. Welcome on board Ronan. The rest of the backrow were rocks, Jack Dilger, who was excellent, was unfortunately injured, and had to withdraw. Any team with David O’Connor, has an advantage; he has quality, commitment and wisdom. Nick McCarthy is the comrade you would choose beside you in the trenches. He puts himself at risk, fearlessly in every phase of play, his anticipation is notable. A true son of Noel, the former terror of Munster. Beside the granite captain, Rudds, his partner Cathal, gives a sharp lineout target and flying feet on the break, and so he was today. The front row was a rock, with Tommer and Adam gargantuan, Tommer is showing why he is on the Ireland clubs’ panel and Adam gets better each game; he carried indefatigably. Richie Halpin is the heart of the scrum, he works incessantly and often unseen; he is high value and a real leader. Hugo Kean, getting back to fitness, and Emmett Ferron, when introduced, made the switch seamlessly, and the pack hummed on. The pack was inexhaustible and matched the highly honed Con pack in all respects.
Behind the scrum, we were fortunate to have two sets of halves who complemented. Paddy and Seanie, when pressure was on, controlled and guided, varied play as required and made vital pitch position possible; both kicked well. And Seanie put two vital penalties over, to assert control and stability. He suffered a slight quad strain but should be okay; two most important contributions. Robbie and Conor, showed panache and pace. Conor Dean was 20 today, he got and gave a birthday present. He was involved in both tries and has hands of heaven. He also coolly kicked the match winning conversion. Robbie has shown over the past couple of games that he is multi-talented and he had a major input today.
Marcus (Modser) O’Driscoll was just outstanding from start to finish, no man went by and he had the Con defence jittered and jagged, with probes and glides and all the time he was organising and coaxing. He is near essential to our wellbeing. His partnership with Darren, is a mixture of stability and adventure. Darren gives his very existence in attack and defence. His power gives defences shivers and he never shirks work. He is an invaluable asset to any team. While outside the two young Jedi showed appetite and ability. Craig and Myles came in early in the season, neophytes, and have matured and grown in all respects. They are both fine footballers and have the heart and ambition. They did a great service today. The force goes with them.
Behind it all, was David, son of David, from the land of Fanagan, not yet an undertaker, but all he undertook today was pitch perfect. His evasive footwork was bewildering and he scored two celestial tries that only he could score. He is not confined to fleet footed feints, but has vision, top class positional awareness and strong leadership qualities. He scored those two startling tries; David Fanagan had to receive the SoftCo MoM award. He would say that his two games for the J1s got his sharpness back and we are fortunate to have him.
We are entitled to a little ostentatious jubilation, after a momentous win. All the squad, the coaches, management and ancillary contributors deserve great congratulations. However, they are wise enough to know that come Monday, they will return to hard graft, realistic assessments and preparations for next Saturday. You do not need reminding of the result of the last meeting between Young Munster and St Marys. There is no doubt that it will be nothing like that game, but it will be a real test. We the supporters, can take a bow, and the team have generously stated that the support today was a real weapon for them. We are needed, so we will turn up in even greater and noisier numbers. Don’t let us down, Please.
St Marys played down towards the Road end in the first half, to the fear of the some of the older more superstitious supporters. Both sides set a high pace and with a strong wind we managed to keep the visitors in their half until Seanie lined up a difficult forty metre kick after ten minutes, he sliced the posts; 3-0. After six minutes further, Sean again notched a difficult 40 + metre penalty, 6-0. But Cork Con worked their way up-field and on 24 minutes, and after a near miss, scored a penalty of their own to make the score 6-3. Fortunes swayed for the rest of the half, then on 40 minutes, Con winger Rob Carroll ran back a kick and after ball interchange scored a good try. So at half time it was 6-8.
The second half with the wind, Con attacked straight away, and on 49 minutes added a penalty, 6-11. On 59 minutes, and after a fair amount of pressure from Con, they scored a good try, 6-16. Critically, it was not converted. This is when the Marys grit showed, they worked and worked and started to pressurise the Con defence. Marys mounted an attack on 65 minutes and David Fanagan swooped he turned two players, broke a tackle and scored a beauty in the Cabbage Patch corner, it was far out and against a strong wind so the conversion was not successful.11-16; Then we came back up field and on 69 minutes we won a ruck, the ball was moved swiftly, wide, right to left by Robbie, Conor, then Modser. Then, came a gem pass to David coming into the line at high velocity, he danced delightfully past two, and switched direction coming inside the last defender, then swooped, it was now 16 all. Conor had a difficult conversion but stroked it coolly to make the score 18-16. We dared dream, but after the cruel fortune of Temple Hill last month, when four minutes into injury time we led by one point, only to be cruelly denied by a dubious penalty, we held breaths. Time went on (slowly), Con set up attack after attack, but the new fitness and defiant defence of the Marys boys, forced error after error and, as anxiety crept in to Con, confidence fed into Rudds’ men and soon it was all over. 18-16.
Team (Rolling Replacements X12)
15 D Fanagan, 14 C Kennedy,, 13 D Moroney 12 Marcus O’Driscoll, 11 M Carey, 10 S Kearns, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 J Dilger, 7 R Watters, 6 D O’Connor, 5 C O’Flaherty, 4 C Ruddock (Capt), 3 A Coyle, 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, H Kean, E Ferron, N McCarthy, R Glynn, C Dean.