03.04.2010 U20 Premier XV v Lansdowne (H)

03/04/20102:30pmAILSt. Marys U21s 1st XV8 – 9LansdowneHome

St. Mary’s V Lansdowne      8-9

The Squad:

1. Neil Murphy, 2. Tommy Meredith, 3. Sean Preston, 4. Robbie Field, 5. Ronan Lennon, 6. Darragh Maher, 7. Wesley Wojnar, 8. Darragh Keller,

9. Chris Lilly, 10. Colin Sheridan, 11. Ray Crotty, 12. Edouard Nicolay, 13. Steve Toal-Lennon, 14. Ian O’Neill, 15. Ciaran Collins (Ciarzo) 16. Rory O’Donovan, 17. Jack McGrath, 18. Owen McGill 19. Sean Tevlin 20. Simon O’ Donnell, 21. Dara Fitzgerald, 22. Ros Wynne,

My apologies for the lateness of this report but to be honest, the last time I felt this level of injustice and disappointment for the guys was immediately after the 2008 SCT final in the RDS against that team whose name we do not mention! I know a lot of you remember that day all too well so I won’t linger there. Suffice to say we were robbed on the day and in my view, again last Saturday.

In spite of the fact that the Lansdowne team was loaded to the hilt with returning AIL and Leinster players, (something which might be distasteful but is in fact quite legitimate), our lads were all over them in the first half. Our forwards dealt admirably with their significantly heavier pack and the level of intensity in and around the scrums, mauls and rucks was excellent. St Mary’s had indeed turned up to play and to put the memory of our recent Lansdowne encounter behind us.

In the back line our tackling was superb with Edouard leading the way in this area as usual. Not to demean the other guys in any way but Edouard, in my view, is one of the few remaining natural tacklers in the game who believes in putting the attacking player to ground the old way (by the legs) and then immediately looking for his next target. He is a joy to watch and I imagine a scary guy to play against.

With excellent platform coming from the forwards we were able to deliver significant pressure in the opening period leading to a well deserved penalty after 10 minutes which Ray converted.

All through the first half our forwards battled hard against very strong opposition and delivered excellent ball to our backs, whom in turn looked very dangerous. Some might say that we could have made more of this possession but 20 minutes in, following excellent delivery from the forwards on the opposition 10yrd line (LHS), quick hands out the back line with Ray coming in off his line saw a beautifully worked try by Ian’O Neill, who ran in unopposed. Unfortunately Colleen, who seldom missed a game all year, was not there to witness her son run in the try because she had to take Nellie’s place in the Old Trafford stand, a Christmas present for Ian which he forego for the sake of the team. Poor Colleen! Imagine having to sit through a Man U game? 

After 30 minutes however Lansdowne converted their first penalty of the day. Half time score, 8-3. 

There is no doubt that we competing very well up front and that our back line was considerably stronger than theirs. This was however a very strong Lansdowne team and while they never really looked like scoring a try, we were very conscious that we needed to make more of our possession and cut out the penalties.

And then the world changed!!

Fate conspired against us and arranged for the heavens to open and drown both the pitch and our hopes of victory. What followed was a mud bath (and not the kind we all dream of!). Our strength in the backs was effectively neutralised as the ball became a bar of soap and the saturated ground took the pace out of our attack.

Its easy to say that we could have / should have/ might have changed the game plan at this point and that we could have done things differently from there on in, but the conditions were simply awful and the guys did the best that they could and certainly gave everything to try and win the game. I cannot ask any more of them than that so, in spite of the fact that Lansdowne converted two more penalties and won 9-8, I have no complaints of the guys and there are no fingers to be pointed.

Enough wallowing for one season!  We are still Leinster Champions and we have the McCorry cup quarter finals to look forward to on Sunday next (3pm Templeville) against Terenure. As Hugh so rightly put it in the dressing room last night, “The result last week was certainly a disappointment but if a home fixture against Terenure is not enough to motivate you, then there is no point in putting on the Blue jersey”. I concur and I have no doubt that the guys can put this recent disappointment behind them and forge ahead.

Let us not forget that a Mc Corry cup final could, in theory, involve St. Mary’s and Lansdowne and I am certainly not above petty revenge.

To the parents of the squad, (Pennant and Premier), Niall Rynne (President) has very kindly laid on a pre-match lunch for you in the Club (1.45pm) as a thank you for all your support throughout the year and I  want to add my thanks to you all for your support for the team, the coaches and of me. I hope to see you there.