07.11.2010 U20 Premier XV v Lansdowne (A)

07/11/20102:30pmJ.P. Fanagan LeagueLansdowne17 – 13St. Marys U21s 1st XVAway

                                                         St. Mary’s V Lansdowne (13-17)

The Squad:
1.Shane Kearney 2. Rory O’Donovan 3. Robert Ferris 4. Stephen Maguire 5. Gavin Thornberry 6. Darragh Keller 7. Thomas Lamboley 8. Mark Fallon 9. Chris Lilly 10. Colin Sheridan 11. Owen Moriarty 12. Maurice Walsh 13. Steve Toal Lennon 14. Ros Wynne 15. Ciaran Collins.

Subs: Tom O’Reilly, David Callanan, Julien Cazabet, Quentin Audiffren, Simon O’Donnell, Ryan O’Loughlin. Richie Mc Micken, Hugh McGovern.

                                        Obviously disappointed but very “Very” proud!

Yesterday was a day of very mixed emotions. The type that only sport can bring out when you are passionate about a game. St. Mary’s came to this match (on paper) as severe underdogs, having only won one of their last three games and now facing the unbeaten league leaders. (albeit an excellent win against Wanderers last week!)

In only the second play of the game, Lansdowne ran in a try on the wing and so, after only two minutes, St Mary’s were 7 points down. In fairness to Lansdowne, they started the game with great intensity and were justly rewarded for their efforts. Suddenly our 15 players looked, to a man, smaller that the Lansdowne team and many of the St Mary’s supporters feared that it was going to be a long hard day.

Well, that is exactly what it turned out to be but for all the right reasons. The St.Mary’s pack were immense on the day and over the course of the match, out played the heavier and (visibly) bigger Lansdowne pack in all areas. To watch the Lansdowne scrum being destroyed time and time again was a pleasure to behold and huge credit goes to Shane Kearney, Rory O’Donovan and Robert Ferris for a master class in the scrums. At the back of the scrum, Chris Lilly also disrupted the Lansdowne scrum half service over and over again taking much of the impetus away from their back line.

Line outs were strongly contested by both teams with no one team dominating but excellent disruption from both sides. In loose play, we contested for everything aggressively and again the pack were relentless and let nothing get past them on the day. They competed for everything for the full 80 minutes. They created excellent platform for the backs and mauled with patience and purpose.  

Giving our backs a solid platform is always desirable as they have huge speed and talent and but for some unfortunate handling errors we might have upset the apple cart on the day. In fairness to Lansdowne they also displayed some very stout defence. As a result we were unable to convert out forward dominance into points in the first half.  

Mid way through the second half however, Thomas Lamboley, in receipt of a high kick from Lansdowne, released Richie Mc Micken who displayed tremendous speed and in turn released Eoin Moriarty for a well earned try. Colin converted the points and at 07-10 the game was alive again.

The forwards again increased their intensity and this is where the “very” proud in the title comes from.  Robert Ferris (Wheel) was awesome throughout the whole match. He destroyed his opposite prop in set play. Nothing got past him as he put in huge tackles all day. Robert took his opportunities to carry the ball in open play and made large territory gains over and over again. His work rate and intensity was simply first rate throughout and to my mind, played the game of his life. It’s not often this author gets to write about his own son in such glowing terms but I’m pretty sure I’ll be forgiven on this occasion and that I’m safe from contradiction..

We were within one point of Lansdowne with 10 minutes to go. (13-14). Unfortunately, the next penalty went to Lansdowne who converted for a 13-17 victory and of course it is disappointing. However, the coaches and I were very proud of the squad’s performance and it is clear that , if they can maintain this focus going forward, we still have the AIL and Mc Corry Cups to look forward to with confidence.

Before I get totally carried away, we still have to earn the right to compete in the AIL and so the journey continues. The difference now however is that we are, I believe, fully armed and ready for what lies ahead.