St Mary’s College RFC V Ballynahinch RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 21st February 2015.
A game of vivacity, ebullition and sparkle, was this uplifting AIL Division 1A match. For us, it gave a perfect result but with, some heart flickering times, during the game. Too frequently, we see turgid, petrified games with teams so bent on not losing that they become paralysed and lose cheeky adventure. Well this was not one of those, both well-matched teams played with ease and pace and often burst intoelectrifying élan; when play swished over and back with sparks flying. With this enthusiasm often comes mistakes and stutters, and indeed these were also evident. Besides those gulping moments, however, it was a real pleasure to watch. It was also a real pleasure for our alickadoos to meet up againwith Hinch counterparts, equally adventurous and entertaining as their team, with brilliant, post-prandial speaker, Phillip Gregg, hilarious.
It was an excruciatingly close game, with the outcome only evident at the final whistle. Hinch have a big mobile team, with excellent outside men. They varied their play well, running straight and hard; they have a tendency to drop game pace then surge.
Imagine, a five point win, and it is good to be able to report that the determined and committed attitude continued in theMarys’ team and the fitness, which has been a determining factor in the past couple of games again showed, as did the efficient lineout management. Scrums were fairly even with both packs giving away penalties. The rotational replacement- system was particularly well managed by the coaches, to telling effect. On the deficit, it has to be said that the alignment of the backline went askew on occasions, as didthe tackling.
In the pack, it was good to welcome back big Darragh Frawley, who showed he has not lost his lineout prowess. The front row all had fine games, Brian McGovern needs special mention for he made some vital interventions in both attack and defence, one pass putting us away and a superb turnoverhe made leading to a converted penalty at a pivotal time; healso scored the wining try. These facts, in addition to an all round fine performance, caused me to make him my man of the match. Ciaran Ruddock too was outstanding, I mentioned after the Con game how he had started to hit his best ever form, well he has continued this form and built even more on it. He went hell on, for the whole game, was a granite wall in defence and a hurtling hurricane in attack. The influence of the captain, Shiner, can never be over estimated and once again he had that vital leadership value and played wonderfully well from set pieces and in open play.
Behind the scrum, Marcus O’Driscoll was always a threat and worked very hard, but the two young wingers caught the eye today, Conor Toolan and Ryan O’Loughlin with adventure and pace and behind them how could you not acclaim a man who scored 12 points, Ray Crotty?
After eight minutes, Hinch opened the scoring with a try by impressive winger Ross Adair, after three phases and brokentackles he went over in the cabbage patch corner. Then on 16 minutes first phase ball from a lineout on our own 10M line. saw the ball swept wide, Conor Toolan came into the line on a lovely arc went through a gap and seared down the left wing, and Ryan O’Loughlin following up fast the chipped ball, caught the covering defender who failed to release, a fast tapped penalty, three phases near the line and on a low trajectory Kevin Sheahan got in and with the conversion from Ray it was 7 -5. Three minutes later, Conor following fast , a kick ahead, hacked on and just got there to beat the cover over the line and score out wide in Carvill Corner; so 12 – 5. It was 24 minutes when Hinch were penalised near their line for not rolling and received a yellow card; so we went to the corner, set up a fine maul and the excellent Sean McCarthy got over. Ray added two, thank you very much, 19 – 5. He added three points on 39 minutes for a not releasing penalty, 22 – 5. However just before the half time whistle a missed tackle led to a break from Hinch and Stuart Morrow scored a fine try in The Car Park Corner, so the half ended 22 – 10.
Second half saw a high paced start from Hinch and on 42 minutes they scored a penalty and from a clever blindside break, at 51 minutes on our 22 Aaron Cairns scored in the gate corner, for us fortunately once more, the conversion was not made, so it was 22 – 18; it went 25 – 18, with a Ray Crotty penalty on 53 minutes. A real sucker punch on 56 minutes saw us concede a try to John Donnan and with the conversion it was 25 – 25. It was pretty hectic then but man of the match Brian McGovern scored the winning try on 64 minutes, Ray converted and we held out to the end; winning 32 -25. Since Hinch scored four tries, they got two points and we got our precious five.
Remember, it is Friday next, 27th February under lights at Templeville Road that we play Clontarf. If you recall our trip to Castle Avenue on 2nd January, we looked as though we had got back into and would win the game early in the second half, only for mistakes to cause our downfall. We have a different and greatly improved team now and if it continues to play in that wonderfully committed courageous and high-paced manner, playing to strengths for the entire game,Shiner’s men will prevail. Not downplaying Tarf; who have a big strong experienced team with a powerful pack and a strong, fast and elusive back three, so our defence must be adamantine and our antennae, ever on high alert. Rememberagain, it is the supporters who bond with and inspire this team more than any other, I can remember. And today the terraces again did their bit and were recognised for it by Shiner’s men.Even Jim Coffey of our Club Sponsors, Softco, who is not well at present, showed his interest and commitment, as hestayed out on the cold terraces for the entire game, to cheer the team on. It was important to hear Rynner’s choir, chantMarys-Marys-Marys late in the game when it was dig in time,boys! So, please, please, please, you are needed, come on, cheer, chant howl and we will have a good night afterwards; the team will stay on and mix with us, as one Marys.
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 R Crotty, 14 C Toolan, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 M Sexton, 11 R O’Loughlin, 10 S Kearns, 9 D Fanagan, 8 K Sheahan (Capt), 7 B O’Flanagan, 6 N Timony, 5 D Frawley, 4 C Ruddock, 3 B McGovern, 2 S Mc Carthy, 1 T O’Reilly, R O’Donovan, Robert Sweeney, Richard Sweeney, C Oliver, C Lilly.