St Mary’s College RFC V Young Munster RFC
UB AIL Division 1A
Saturday 15th November 2014.
Celebrations burst like a rescue flair over Templeville Road today, lighting up the heavy sky in a kaleidoscope of emotive joy, relief, hope and gratitude, as battered bodies steamed, post joust.
Ah, this was worth waiting for, as it showed a squad of young men willing to withstand torture and exhaustion for their team, their captain, their coaches and their club. A new generation was born, from the spirit of the greats of the past; the Brannigans, Fanagans,Cookes and Carmodys, Moloneys, Lynches and Sweeneys, the Deerings, Wards, Hickies,Potts Nashes and Brophys of days behind; some of the real greats of our club.
And what a joust it was, a big strong stereotypic YM team, with gargantuan maul, scrum and lineout, taking on a fast, lithe, concentrated Marys’ team, convicted and convinced. For 20minutes, the YM power saw Marys scurrying but never flinching. The home side were then behind. However, this week they did not look down, they were snarling and snapping and looking for the joust.
Our coaches too, showed bravery making changes taking chances and, having spent hours working on corrective and redemptive actions, their decisions were justified.
Over the game, fortunes swayed and swung as this brave young team flailed themselves into incessant action. They were at times breathless in action, white heat in searing intensity, andfrantically engaged in trench warfare. Then again, they were ice cold in determined, unflinching defence, manning barricades built mentally and physically as they kept shape and faith in each other and themselves. This was the true key to their deserved and priceless victory.
Many things improved on last week, with a much more effective kicking game, a determined follow-up strategy, alert high-speed line defence and better ball control. We made several key, valuable turnovers from fast rocket rucking.
Having converted seven straight penalties from diverse positions and angles and increasing his performances several notches, Cathal Marsh had to be my Marys’ man of the match;however this was a win hewn in mental granite from an entire squad. A day this was when the leaders stood up and were counted, none more so than the superb skipper Kevin (Shiner) Sheahan. He adapted to every change in situation, made good decisions and put in a superb personal performance. His defence was crushing and his carrying was most effective, his lineout work invaluable, his rucking and his backup play were powerful.
We found the set pieces difficult, losing three lineouts in a row at one stage, but never did we panic, the scrums went against us on a number of occasions, but we fought on and prevailed.
The front row deserves great credit, Brian Mc Govern, switched to tight side and never gave an inch, he was adventurous and fearless and carried into walls of ogres never flinching. Alternating hookers, Rory (Rocky) O’Donovan and Sean McCarthy, caught in a cauldron of bubbling pressure, were brave and resilient and gave their everything throughout; most valuable contributions. Tom O’Reilly grows each week to being a fine player, he defended mauls and rucks with gusto, showing good body position and his scrummaging, was persistent and determined.
What a joy it is to be able to laud unconditionally our second row. Today, they were soaring in all respects; I cannot remember when if ever, either played better for St Marys. They stood up, shoulder to shoulder, and were counted, they took the scars of battle and never flinched they led and cajoled the younger lads they carried and harried, one equal to the other. I will remember ever, a kick ahead, when Marcus zipped up after the ball headed off the fielder and Brads was at his shoulder to wrap in mighty arms, pulverise, and then win the ball.
Richard Sweeny, while on at 6, again showed his leadership qualities as he drove on the forwards and he took on ball effectively and willingly. He was always willing to run with the ball and cover the sides of rucks and mauls. I have commented before about young Nicky Timony, well he showed that when it gets tough he gets tougher, he threw himself around with abandon. He carried out of trouble and he showed steel against flint; and sparks flew. He was great and continues to improve, as will his young colleague at 7, Conor Oliver,although often dwarfed by the big Munsters’ ball carriers he threw himself at them, he picked ball from boots and carried when possible. Both did a service to their team and showed theircommitment to their new teammates.
David Fanagan at 9, took a battering and got up and looked for more. He had a torrid time, but never stopped probing, plugging holes, taking responsibility and serving ball as he should. Courageous lad.
Outside man of the match Marshy, there was a last minute change, as Mark Sexton pulled a calf muscle in the warm up. The multi talented Marcus O’Driscoll came in to 12 where he looked at home and never gave an inch. He was selfless, as he took tackles, he broke and ran good vectors and made a handsome contribution. Outside him, Young Ryan O’Loughlin came back in to 13 and with Marcus was a threat to the YM backline throughout the game and his defence was eager today. He can make space for himself well and his confidence is growing.
The back three, working well together, made sure there was ever someone at home. YM made little progress out wide and all three minded the corners for kicks. Conor Toolan played with a heavy respiratory infection and had to leave the field in the first half, Gavin Dunne came on an did a very fine job at full back, Ray Crotty, who also did well and whohad been at 15, moved on to the wing and Chris Lilly manned the right wing. Several timesChris acted as sweeper across the back and on one occasion he hurtled across from the right to the left and torpedoed the big YM runner into touch in the corner and save a certain try, heis a fine footballer.
We opened the score when Cathal put over the first penalty on eight minutes and he repeated the feat on 13 minutes. However, YM showed their power when taking a maul rather than a goal shot, their powerful pack mauled from the lineout and scored, that made the score 6 – 7, after their conversion. That was on 16 minutes and on 23 minutes they repeated the procedure, although on this occasion they failed to convert the try; it was then 6 – 12. In the process, we unfortunately lost a man to the bin. Shiner came on then, and great credit to the fourteen they allowed no score during the sin bin period and indeed on half time Cathal added another penalty, his third in a row, 9 – 12 and it was half time.
It was 17 minutes gone in the second half when Munsters drew level with a penalty, but Cathal scored a fine penalty on 25 minutes and 28 minutes another. The half hour mark saw YM add another penalty but before the final whistle, Cathal struck again, a clean sweep of penalties to make the final score 21 – 15.
Sweat, exhaustion and total hoarseness were everywhere; and the players they were also worn out. What a heroic effort it was and another memorable day at Templeville Road.
Now I have to thank the many who contacted me after last week and especially those of you who heeded and headed to Templeville Road to support the team. Today was the first time in a good time now that Rynner managed to get the Marys, Marys chant going, and it worked.
Now the next request I have for you is, will you come to Cork next Saturday when we play Dolphin? You can either catch up on the Irish game when you get home or watch it en route. Dolphin is a difficult club to visit and we have had great difficulty there over the past few years. Please try to do it, these lads deserve your support and they need it.
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 R Crotty, 14 C Lilly, 13 R O’Loughlin, 12 M O’Driscoll, 11 C Toolan, 10 C Marsh, 9 D Fanagan, 8 N Timony, 7 C Oliver, 6 Richard Sweeney, 5 C Ruddock, 4 S Bradshaw, 3 B McGovern, 2 R O’Donovan, 1 T O’Reilly, S McCarthy, N Murphy, K Sheahan, B O’Flanagan, G Dunne.