17.04.2010 J2 XV v Lansdowne (A)

17/04/20103.00pmCupLansdowne20 – 24St. Marys J2 XVAway

Lansdowne J2 20 St Mary’s J2 24
Mary’s won an epic O’Connell Cup semi final against Lansdowne in Ballycorus Road on Saturday. Under the outstanding leadership of captain Mikey Houlihan we delivered a great performance in perfect conditions. In truth we should not have been hanging on to our trophy in injury time of the match as we dominated territory and possession. We were camped in the Lansdowne 22 when we turned the ball over and they kicked ahead and went the length of the field to score a breakaway try against the run of play. Great kicking by Neil Cowhey kept us in touch at 13 9 down at half time but we knew we had the breeze for the second half. 

We continued to play good rugby in the second half with the ball going through multiple phases but the Lansdowne defence refused to budge. Their pressure defence caused us problems all day, they were content not to fully commit to rucks with their players fanning out across the pitch. After sustained pressure in the Lansdowne 22 we moved the ball right only for their winger to intercept the ball and run the length of the field to make it 20 12 against us.

Mikey maintained morale in the team and told the players that if we kept playing as were doing the scores would come. He was right as we quickly scored an excellent team try in the corner which was rounded off by Alan Shirley. Joey Connolly had been threatening the Lansdowne defence all day and he scored a try that only he could score to give us the lead. Joey got the ball 35 metres out as first receiver and threw a dummy to make a classic outhalf break. He then side stepped the full back and showed searing pace to make it untouched under the posts – a moment of genius from a genius player. This made it 24 20 to us with 5 minutes to go but there was much drama to come.

Lansdowne laid siege to our try line and we were reduced to 13 men with Ryan and Cahill in the sin bin. This team has been together now for three years and we have developed a fighting spirit and togetherness that is uncommon at this level. Our 13 men heroically threw themselves into contact on our line with a desire that had to be seen to be believed. Men kept tackling and dragging themselves to their feet again and again. Lansdowne went through over 20 phases right on the try line. The ref called last play and they moved the ball right to the wing where Barry Cahill was no longer guarding. Their full back got the ball and seemed certain to score only for No. 8 Kevin Gallivan to make the best tackle I have ever seen. Somehow Gallivan managed to get across and get a hold of the full back by the collar. He then dragged him into touch and the game was over.

That tackle encapsulated what this team is all about and all 20 players are a credit to the club. We now play Blackrock next Saturday and it would be great if we could have as much support as possible from all club members. Mikey and the lads deserve it.

Stephen Shirley.

15. Neil Cowhey  14. J Dunne 13. A Shirley 12. K O’Brien 11. B Cahill 10. J Connolly 9. E Mucker 1. P Collins 2. T Meredith 3. M Houlihan (Capt) 4. G McInerney 5. E Keane 6. B Brophy 8. K Gallivan 7. L Burke
Subs: N Murphy, A Conboy, K Lannon, G Crawford, R Ryan