|J.P. Fanagan League
|18 – 19
|St. Marys U21s 1st XV
St Mary’s U21’s Barnhall U 21’s
This was the first J.P Fanagan match of the season for the Premier team and it had the trade marks of a nervous and slightly complacent approach to the competition.
Winning the game by 19-18 was certainly cause for celebration as it could just as easily gone the other way for us. To their immense credit, Barnhall put on an excellent display and fought hard to the very end and were unlucky not to run out winners. Having secured a respectable lead in the first half (19-10), Mary’s nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory with a lacklustre second half display. While all the traits of our excellent team were definitely present during the day, unfortunately they were also absent for long periods of the game.
After only 7 minutes and following good forward pressure from Barnhall on our 25mtr line, their prop broke free from the side of a ruck and ran un-apposed under the posts. An easy conversion and we were 7 points behind. Not the start we had been hoping for!
However, Mary’s regrouped and in the 20th minute, following a well worked lineout on the Barnhall 10mtr line, Darrah Fitzgerald floated an excellent kick to the Ian O’Neill, on the far wing, who showed his pace and ran under the posts.
Simon O’Donnell converted.
Barnhall came back with a converted penalty on 22 minutes.
From the kick off, following a great chasing tackle from Owen McGill and supported well by Robert Ferris, Mary’s turned over the ball. Again Darragh Fitzgerald showed his vision and placed a weighted kick over the blind side defence for the omni-present Darragh Keller to chase down. Keller beat the defence in the chase for the line and touched down for 5 pts. An excellent conversion attempt from Simon O’Donnell just drifted inches wide of the posts.
On 40 minutes, following an well worked Mary’s lineout (Ronan Lennon jumped well all day), a clean ball from Simon O’ Donnell to Darragh Fitzgerald allowed him space to break the defensive line, which he did at pace. A well timed pass found Ian O’Neill in space and Nellie was off and running again. Another 5 points for Nellie under the posts which Simon O Donnell again converted.
Half time and at this point it seemed as if Mary’s had found their rhythm. This was not the case however.
Barnhall regrouped in the second half and were certainly the better team for 35 of the last 40 minutes. Some excellent defensive play by Mary’s should be applauded however, especially Edouard and Steve Toal-Lennon in the centre, Ciaran Collins under many a high ball at full back and Tommy Meredith, Keller and Francois in the forwards.
We did however suffer in the pack and especially in the scrums which allowed Barnhall too many good opportunities to set up a platform for attack. With 10 minutes to go, Barnhall camped on the Mary’s line and their commitment to win the game was evident. They scored a well deserved push over try from 5mtrs out and fortunately for Mary’s, they missed the conversion which would have cost us the game.
With defeat a real possibility now, the Mary’s packed upped their game and totally controlled the last five minutes on the Barnhall 25mtr line with an excellent display of rucking and rolling mauls.
Mary’s ran out winners on the day but the guys, to a man, were disappointed with the team performance and acknowledge that they will definitely need to improve their game in time for the UCD match next Sunday. What is certain however, is that this is a very capable squad with an excellent spirit and buckets of talent and I have no doubt that this is exactly what they will collectively do.
All will be revealed in Templeville Road on 25th. See you there.