07.04.2011 U20 Premier XV v Dublin University (H)

7/04/20113:00pmCupSt. Marys U21s 1st XV5 – 3Dublin UniversityHome

                        St. Mary’s V Dublin Universtiy (5-3)

The Squad:
1.Tom O’Reilly 2. Rory O’Donovan 3. Robert Ferris 4. Gavin Thornberry     5. Ronan Lennon 6. Mark Fallon 7.J.J Clarke, 8. Darragh Keller 9. Chris Lilly 10. Darragh Fitzgerald 11. Darren Hudson 12. Maurice Walsh 13. Steve Taol-Lennon 14. Ryan O’Loughlin, 15. Ray Crotty 

Subs: Sean Preston, David Callanan, Mark Darby, Quentin Audifren, Simon O’Donnell, Colin Sheridan, Ciaran Collins.

                                                ‘WINNER TAKES ALL’

This was always going to be an intense game of rugby between two excellent teams, especially given that we narrowly defeated Trinity in the quarter final of the All Ireland competition at the same venue on 13.03.11 last.

Today we again witnessed an excellent game of rugby between two fully committed and well coached squads. Once again the St Mary’s support was absolutely excellent and the management, coaches and players truly appreciate the efforts of all who made the effort to come along on the day. 

For those spectators who had no allegiances to either team it was a fast paced and entertaining game. For the rest of us, it was another tense and heart pounding event which could, in truth, have gone either way.

The commitment and intensity by both teams was top drawer from the start with both sides eager to make an early impact and a statement about the result of the last encounter. Trinity no doubt wanted to demonstrate that St Mary’s were fortunate to win the last time and we were certainly eager to show that the last win was no mistake. For my money, St Mary’s looked the better side in the first 20 minutes and should have converted our possession into more points.

An excellently worked try by St Mary’s after 20 minutes did however give us a justifiable lead. Following some patient phases, Chris released Hudson, who had come in off his wing. Hudson off-loaded to Ray in support who made a half break and passed to Ryan on the right wing. Ryan still had some work to do and scored well in the corner.

Trinity were not about to lay down and for the rest of the game the action moved from one end of the pitch to the other with all too frequent ease.

For a large part of the second half, Trinity won the territory game but failed to convert this into points. This was due to a combination of some naivety on their part as well as excellent defence and discipline from St Mary’s, conceding only one kickable penalty 10 minutes into the second half, which Trinity converted.

This was to be the last score of the game and in my humble opinion, in spite of some excellent performances from the back line, it was our forwards who won the game for us on this occasion. Tom, Rocky and Ferris dominated up front and carried the ball well in open play with Sean Preston also making a big impact when he joined the game in the second half. Ronan and Gavin controlled the line-outs, winning all but two of our own throws and effectively disrupting any attempt by Trinity to use the lineout as a platform. J.J. and Mark were very effective carriers and aggressive tacklers and of course, as usual, Keller was excellent everywhere.

I am tempted at times to include Chris Lilly in with the forwards as he is omni-present around the pitch. His tackling, vision and work rate are immense and his disruptive play at the back of the opposition scrums continues to add significant advantage to our territory.

To a man, the squad dug deep and again showed great character and were rewarded with a justified victory. While this is indeed a sweet victory, the competition is far from over. With Lansdowne still to face Terenure and UCD still to face Blackrock, there remains one more significant hurdle to get over before we can truly celebrate the magnificent effort and progress of this team throughout the year.

The date of this final encounter is yet to be decided and will be advertised well in advance. What is certain however is that we are real contenders for the Mc Corry Cup and it will take a truly excellent performance by any team to beat us. This will also be the last game at U21 for several of the squad who will be keen to add to their J.P Fanagan victory last year with a Mc Corry Cup victory.

“Bring it on” I say!