24.09.2016 1st XV v Clontarf (A) by D O’Brien

Clontarf FC V St Mary’s College RFC

23 20

AIL Division 1A

Castle Avenue

Saturday 24th September 2016.


Heading across the storied waters of the Liffey, with the daunting task of facing the champions and hardened warriors, in the rain, on an alien, “trans-mutational” (*Tarf President, Peter Walsh) Astro turf, 4G pitch, we would have been happy then, to have two points. Instead, we have five and are on our way. Well done team, well done McGov, well done Jamie et al. Deserved congratulations too, to elated president, Kevin Conboy and to Director of Rugby (DoR), Alan Shirley.

It is points banked like this now, that later in the season make the difference in standing, in confidence and in fact.

The Clontarf G4 pitch is a credit to the club and the outstanding effort that went into realising it. The non-abrasive surface is perfect, the bounce true and the layout, attractive. Congratulations to Peter and his committee for the enviable achievement.

This was an intriguing match, played in the best sporting tradition, when the lighter Marys pack successfully stood toe to toe with the Tarf one. There was a mighty joust in the scrums and the Marys’ eight held sway. Our lineouts, although not always fruitful, were improved and our overall defence transformed, with our rapid, hard-line tackles, shattering. Likewise, we ran some sharp vectors and support play was good.

Clontarf has a strong team, however, today although the performance was committed and rugged, the handling and the kicking were surprisingly unreliable, giving Marys a number of opportunities that they avidly accepted.

There was on display, an array of young talent and, undaunted they performed to the highest standard. In the visitors’ pack, the back row, including newcomer young U20, Caelan Doris, competed well, the second row worked diligently. However, it was the front row that garnered special attention, for they worked relentlessly and bravely and each one of them was commendable. Tom O’Reilly has become a pillar of the team, Emmett Ferron never shirks when called upon, Hugo Kean is rapidly realising his immense potential (Richard Halpin acquitted himself well too when on) and the skipper, Brian Mc Govern, is full of rugby and power. Today he led from the front, scored a fine try and was in contention for MoM, until injury forced his withdrawal.

Behind the scrum was where we were clearly in the ascendant with everyone eager to attack and do their defensive duty as required. The halves gelled well. Paddy O’Driscoll worked hard and had one fine run leading to a try for him and again his kicking was precise. Each week the growth of confidence is almost palpable, as Sean Kearns coolly runs the game, with close line control, deft and varied passing, piercing breaks and a superb kicking game. His late game-winning penalty, struck from outside the Tarf ten metre line was intriguingly cool; brilliant. No doubt about it, he was MoM. The rest of the backline too were admirable to watch, the wingers were hungry and effective and once again Terry Kennedy at 15, was like an antelope patrolling the width of the pitch, in wait. The midfield was strong in defence and both players put heavy pressure on the Tarf cover with a bombardment of carries. Paddy Lavelle announced himself with some strong breaks and lovely vectors; one such splitting open the defence, making 35 metres and paving the way for the second try. He is a big powerful hard running lad and he had a very fine AIL debut for his new home.

I have no doubt that there is a lot more to come and the way this young, eager team is progressing, soon we can leave our Valium at home. Notwithstanding that, we did have good fortune today, but no successful team ever has a successful campaign without a modicum of good fortune.

The unfolding

The game was four minutes old when Sean put over his first penalty to make it 0 – 3. On 12 minutes, Tarf put a penalty into the corner and drove a maul over the line for a try converted by fullback. Robert Keogh. 7 – 3. On 22 minutes, another penalty, from an offside, was again put into the corner by Tarf and yet again they managed a mauled try, this time no conversion meant that the score was 12 – 3. It was 26 minutes when a move from the back of a scrum was swept across field in a fine back move and then after several recycles and hard drives the ball went from the right hand side of the field to the left, culminating in skipper McGov taking a hard line close in and scoring a fine try. It was now 12 – 10 after Sean’s conversion. The tempo rose and the Marys lads gained in belief. Then on 34 minutes a lineout was lost and won back, the ball swung out and came to Paddy Lavelle in midfield and he skimmed through powerfully, making 35 metres, the ball was recycled and came to supporting Paddy O’Driscoll who showed pace and balance to go over under posts and with Sean’s help it was then 12 – 17. The half finished that way.

The second half was in its infancy, 43 minutes, when Sean added a penalty to make it 12 – 20; looking good. It was of course clear that the champions would respond, and they did on 50 minutes; yet another maul and drive led to a try by number 8 Tony Ryan and it was 17 – 20. A penalty on 64 minutes from a scrum, gave Keogh a chance to level the score, and he did. 20 – 20. A tense finish was on, and when the long range penalty was awarded on 76 minutes, Sean did not hesitate, but struck it true and straight, it was 20 – 23. That was how it finished. Marys had won.

Now we face Dublin University under lights on Friday night, and the there is a quickening. Come and join the supporters, remember the last time we met in April, and give the same committed support this young team is growing and evolving, join them on their journey. See you Friday.

Team (including rolling replacements) 15 T Kennedy, 14 I O’Neill, 13 P Lavelle,12 I Dineen, 11 R O’Loughlin; 10 S Kearns, 9 P O’Driscoll; 8 N McCarthy, 7 D Aspil, 6 C Doris, 5 C O’Flaherty, 4 C Ruddock, 3 B McGovern (Capt), 2 H Kean, 1 T O’Reilly, R Halpin, E Ferron, I Cullinane, M Fogarty, Z O’Hagan.

D O’Brien