07.02.2010 U20 Premier XV v Blackrock (A)

07/02/20103.00pmJ.P. Fanagan LeagueBlackrock College0 – 20St. Marys U21s 1st XVAway

                        St Mary’s Vs  Blackrock                      20-0

The Squad:

1. Neil Murphy, 2. Rory O’Donovan, 3. Sean Preston, 4. Robbie Field,  5. Gavin Thornberry , 6. Wesley Wojnar, 7. Gareth Austin, 8. Darragh Keller,

9. Chris Lilly, 10. Colin Sheridan, 11. Ross Wynn, 12. Edouard Nicolay, 13. Steve Toal-Lennon, 14. Ian O’Neill, 15. Ray Crotty 16. Tommy Meredith,

17. Robert Ferris, 18. Sean Tevlin, 19. Ronan Lennon 20. Brian Heavey,

21. Eoin McGill, 22. Ritchie McMicken,

                            Rock on! Rock on!…..Not!!!

The bar has just got that much higher and St Mary’s U21’s (including the Pennant squad) continue to forge ahead and improve week on week. This is no surprise to me as I see the players turn up in all weathers to face the wrath of Conor Mc Philips and Hugh Hogan.

Hugh’s focus on the pack has definitely paid huge dividends as they simply destroyed the Blackrock pack yesterday and the Lansdowne pack last week, two packs that would normally have put us under severe pressure. Conor’s influence on the other hand, now free to focus on the back line, is also evident as the quality of ball handling, the variety of moves and the stalwart defence by all was a pleasure to watch.

Don’t let the score line fool you. This was not an easy match as Blackrock are a quality side (having beaten UCD last week) and they fought hard to break down our defences. Both sides defended well throughout the game and the sides were separated by a couple of moments of brilliance at the end of the day (and a couple of penalties resulting from Blackrock frustration).

As I mentioned, St Mary’s dominated the scrums from the get-go and after on 10 minutes this resulted in a penalty which Ray converted well.

A moment of brilliance soon after from the forwards who turned over ball on out 22. The clearance kick from Chris Lilly to the half way line was chased down by Ray and Nellie and again we turned over the ball. Quick hands to Eduard, to Steve Toal-Lennon (who ran a beautiful line at pace) and a well timed off-load to Ross Wynn. A great try in the corner was converted brilliantly by Ray from the touch line. 10-0.

The defence demonstrated by the back line was top shelf and Blackrock attack faltered time and time again from hits by Steve, Eduard, Chris, Nellie, Ray and Ross only to be turned over by our chasing pack.

I was just about to pay particular praise to Gareth Austin, Wes Wojner (who almost ran in from the half way line) and Darragh Keller for their line breaks and strong defence but then I see my notes highlighting the huge defence of Neil Muprhy and Sean Preston, Rory O Donavan, Robbie and Gav. Thornberry.   Enough said. 

Unfortunately, Chris Lilly came off just before half time but was ably replaced by Brian Heavey who kept the ball moving well for the rest of the match.

Despite being reduced to 14 men, we did not concede points and another moment of individual brilliance from Steve Toal-Lennon went a long way to securing the game for us. Blocking a kick on the half way line, Steve chased down the bouncing ball and displayed his blistering pace to run in under the posts. Ray Converted.

Tommy Meredith replaced Rocky at hooker, Ronan Lennon replaced Gav Thornberry, Sean Tevlin replaced Wes, Richie McMicken replaced Eduard and Robert Ferris replaced Neil Murphy.  I look at the substitutes and it brings it home to me why we are performing so well this year. This is a quality squad through and through with no weak links.

Ray converted a final penalty and Nellie denied the Blackrock swan song with another of his trademark tackles.   

Overall another excellent and commanding performance by the whole squad. Spirits are high. Training remains intense and focussed. Next week we take on UCD away and we are hopeful that Chris and Eduard will be fit in time to help us seek out our revenge for the defeat earlier in the season.

Winning however is a habit and I’m hooked!

Thanks again for the support of parents, Mr President and Darren Hudson (fresh from his superb performance in the Irish colours).