07.03.2010 U20 Premier XV v Dublin University (H)

07/03/20103:00pmJ.P. Fanagan LeagueSt. Marys U21s 1st XV10 – 7Dublin UniversityHome

                        St Mary’s Vs  Trinity               10-7

The Squad:

1. Claus Lehane, 2. Tommy Merideth, 3. Neil Murphy, 4. Gavin Thornberry , 5. Robbie Field 6. Wesley Wojnar, 7. Gareth Austin, 8. Darragh Keller,

9. Simon O’Donnell, 10. Colin Sheridan, 11. Ray Crotty, 12. Edouard Nicolay, 13. Steve Toal-Lennon, 14. Ian O’Neill, (Nel1ie) 5. Ciaran Collins (Ciarzo) 16. Rory O’Donovan, (Rocky) 17. Sean Preston, (Bisto) 18. Owen McGill 19. Francois Guiraud 20. Chris Lilly, 21. Daragh Fitzgerald, 22. Ross Wynn,

Following a sometimes coherent conversation with Robbie Field on Sunday night, I agreed to highlight Robbie’s contribution on the day. So here goes. “Robbie was immense. His tackling was a joy to behold. His mauling was inspirational and his lineout work was uplifting.” Now back to reality!

I’m in a much better mood this week and for very good reason. Not only did WE WIN THE  “J.P. FANAGAN” FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE CLUB’S HISTORY last Sunday, we did so in great style against a very worthy opposition. Trinity were very impressive on the day and really put it up to us. While I might not individually mention every player below, huge credit is due to our whole squad, who all dug deep and gave 100% commitment until the final whistle. The guys probably won’t appreciate it now, but the fact that it was a hard earned win will make it all the more memorable and worthwhile in the years to come.

I was very nervous about the game beforehand, not because of the UCD performance last week, but because we were facing Trinity (who, despite our results against UCD, I rate as the best opposition we met this year) with a depleted squad. Robert Ferris (Wheel) badly injured his shoulder in training. Bisto tweaked his hamstring. Chris Lilly’s shoulder was not fully healed. Brian Heavey damaged his Medial Ligament. Simon O’Donnell injured his shin. Darragh Maher (Creo) pulled a hamstring. Ciarzo injured his shoulder last week and Darren Hudson remains on loan to the Irish team. Some might say I had reason to be concerned.

HOWEVER, to their immense credit, Simon and Ciaran started the match and if they were hurting, they showed no signs of their earlier injuries. Ciaran defended stoutly and worked well with Ian and Ray whether in defence or attack. Simon was fearless when tackling guys twice his height (yes actually…twice his height) and his defensive positioning was excellent and required on many occasions on the day.

Chris and Bisto lined out on the bench despite their injuries and when they did finally join the game, made a very significant impact, injecting new energy and an alternative game plan. Dara Fitzgerald replaced Colin Sheridan. Chris replaced Simon and Bisto replaced Claus.

Huge credit is due to Claus Lehane who stepped up to the challenge on the day and gave 100% effort against an immense front row opposition playing at a level above that which he was used to.  

From the start it was apparent that this was going to be a fast paced encounter with neither side taking any prisoners or giving any leeway. Steve, Edouard and Nellie consistently attacked the Trinity line but it was going to take something special to break the impasse (0-0 at half time) and the guys supplied this early in the second half. Following excellent service from the forwards, the back line showed quick hands to free up Ray on 22yrs line. Ray however had a lot of work to do and showed great commitment, crashing through three tackles to score in the corner.

Some minutes later, as soon as I turned my back to refill the water container, Trinity scored in the corner and converted, which just goes to show how important the role of the Manager on the touchline is! I was only gone for two minutes I swear!!!

A subsequent penalty put Trinity 10-7 ahead with 10 minutes to go. The tension was almost unbearable. Gareth Austin (with a burst lip), Wesley Wojner (again carrying a hip injury), and Darragh Keller were absolutely fantastic all day. Their work rate was inspired and was responsible for many a turnover ball changing the direction of the game in our favour. And yes! All joking aside, Robbie was excellent on the day and when he was finally replaced by Francois with 15 minutes to go, had left nothing behind on the pitch.

We wanted this win and the fantastic vocal support from the stand certainly gave us the motivation to complete the task. With 8 minutes to go and following sustained pressure from the forwards, Francois crossed the line in the corner to huge relief to all in blue and myself. Hugh and Conor in particular. (Not that we ever doubted the result!!!)       

I’m happy for someone else to fill in the last few minutes of the game because I’m afraid it’s a bit of a blur. Suffice to say that we are all delighted that the guys have justifiably earned the first of three trophies available to them this year and in doing so write themselves in the Club’s history books.

I’m certainly looking forward to receiving the J.P.Fanagan in Lansdowne next Sunday (and maybe comparing its stature to the Tomsie Byrne) and to celebrating its presentation to President Niall Rynn in the Club on Sunday night.

Thanks to the TLSC and everyone else for your continued support. The first match in our bid for the All Ireland prize is in Templeville on 27th March against Cork Conn.

See you then.