10.04.2011 U20 Premier XV v Old Belvedere (A)

10/04/20113:00pmCupOld Belvedere16 – 28St. Marys U21s 1st XVAway

                    St. Mary’s V’s Old Belvadere (28-16)

                Mc Corry Cup Quarter Finals.

The Squad:
1.Sean Preston 2. Rory O’Donovan 3. Robert Ferris 4. Stephen Maguire 5. Ronan Lennon 6. Mark Fallon 7.Thomas Lamboley, 8. Darragh Keller 9. Chris Lilly 10. Darragh Fitzgerald 11. Ray Crotty. 12. Maurice Walsh. 13. Steve Toal-Lennon 14. Ciaran Collins 15. Darren Hudson.

Subs: Tom O’Reilly, David Callanan, Gavin Thornberry, JJ Clarke, Simon O’Donnell, Colin Sheridan, Ryan O’Loughlin.

                           A GAME OF TWO HALVES!

Never was there a better example of a game of two halves than the game last Sunday against Old Belvadere. From the first whistle, Belvo controlled the game and within 6 minutes of intense pressure, they have converted their first penalty. The pace of their game was impressive as they ran through quick phase after phase and it was all we could do to defend furiously against the onslaught. But defend we did and against the run of play, Chris Lilly had a moment of magic which kept us in the game. Following a knock on by Belvo on their 10 meter line, Chris took a quick tap, broke through the retreating forwards, danced around another four tackles and scored close to the posts. A missed conversion and the score was 5-3 to St Mary’s but in truth it was only an temporary port in a storm. Belov hit back again within minutes with another (very questionable) penalty but again soon after with a converted try following some poor tackling.

Steve Maguire was injured and replaced by Gavin Thornberry and Sean Preston was replaced by Tom O’Reilly before half time and their excellent performances are testimony to the quality of the total squad.

5-16 to Belvo and I was certainly happy to hear the half time whistle.

It was clear and understood from previous performances that this is a very capable squad but that they were simply not firing on all cylinders. This was politely pointed out to them during the break. A bit like the infamous magic sponge, Hugh’s half time talk resulted in nothing short of a miracle and the team that hit the field for the second half was total transformed.

From the side line it was clear that there was something different about them as they chased down the kick off. The resulting penalty allowed Ray to convert our one and only kick of the day. (we missed 6 other kicks on the day but that’s a story for another day).

Our intensity was impressive and our patience and phase play was once again what we had come to expect from this team. I’m pretty sure Belvo didn’t know what hit them in the second half, having dominated the first half so completely.

Keller finished a six phase movement with his trademark break away and an excellent try. Soon after, now dominant up front, we rolled a maul 15 meters with J.J Clarke grounding for our third try of the day.

Again we piled on the pressure, with Belvo hardly touching the ball and certainly not threatening us at all. Some excellent open play running by Ferris and O’Reilly forced a penalty which hit the cross bar. Maurice Walsh was first to react and retrieved the ball in the middle of all the Belvo defenders. Five controlled phases resulted and were topped off with an excellent try by Maurice Walsh who had started the move.

With the end in sight, Chris stole a Belvo ball in the centre of the field and immediately released J.J. Clarke who offloaded to Darren Hudson, Maurice Walsh and finally Ryan (who came on for Ciaran Collins). Ryan broke the first tackle and out-paced the remaining defenders over 30 meters to score an excellent try in the corner.

So we lost the first half 5-16 but won the second half 23-0. What an impressive and entertaining second half!!

What was learned from this game?

Firstly, we simply cannot start our semi final against Trinity so lethargically of we will be destroyed.

Secondly, we cannot afford to miss six out of seven kicks (four of which were very kickable) if we are to ultimately succeed.

Thirdly, we are a very talented and committed team who know how to win and have faith in their own considerable ability.

Finally, we have an excellent squad with a bench which equally as talented and capable as the first fifteen chosen on any particular day.

And so we progress to the semi-final against Trinity on Sunday 17th April who will, no doubt, be looking for their revenge for their All Ireland defeat to us a few weeks ago. I look forward to it with great anticipation and hope to see as many of you there to support us as can make it on the day.