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|St. Marys U21s 1st XV
U20 Blitz in Newbridge
Tomsie Byrne Cup Saturday 19th September 2009
Travelling with a squad of 28 players to Cill Dara grounds (Newbridge pitches were still dug up), Ritchie, Jack and myself were quietly confident that we would perform very well and hopefully surpass the achievement of last years squad who won the plate. Although we lost in the final, for my money, we achieved this objective.
The competition involves a minimum of two matches (15min per half) and then the semi final and final. Matches ending in a draw go to extra time (10 min per half) and then to penalties. With roll-on-roll-off substitutions our instruction to the guys was to leave nothing behind on the pitch. Although our participation in this pre-season tournament was to allow us to view how the squad was progressing, it is also nice to win (Quinner would call this an Ego moment! – see Eoin for more details).
The squad that travelled was as follows:
Robert Ferris (Wheel), Neil Murphy, (Neilo) Jamie O’Reilly, David Callanan, (Callo), Michael Hanrahan, (Big Mick),Owen Mc Gill, (Giller), Darragh Devlin (Dev), Steve Murray (Tanto), Wes Wojner, Darragh Duggan, Simon O’Donnell, Darragh Fitz, (Fitzie) Daniel Barnwell (Barnie), Ciarán Collins (Ciarzo), Richard McMicken, (Rickie) Cormac Treacy, Ray Crotty, Sean Tevlin (Tev), Darragh Keller (Cletus), Brian Heavy, Ian O’Neill (Nellie), Alan Mc Namara, Ciarán Murphy,(Murph) Stephen Doyle (Doyler), Colin Sheridan, Conor Gormley, (Gorm) Stephen Daly, Ross Wynn,
St Mary’s v Newbridge. (19-7)
Bearing in mind that Newbridge beat us last year it was important to lay down a marker in this match and the lads certainly did this with style.
With decent platform from the forwards, the back line was given the opportunity to show their pace and run through pre-planned moves. Ray Crotty scored an excellent try from centre position, running wide of the winger to score in the corner. Ray then put conversion over from the touch line.
Again from good forward platform and some excellent handling, Ritchie made an excellent cut through the defence and scored from 25 Mtr on LHS.
After sustained forward pressure, a very tidy ball was given to the backs and Ciarzo scored from 10mtr under the posts. Ray converted.
Consolation try and conversion for Newbridge (a little disappointing) in the dying minutes of the game.
An excellent start with everyone up for the game and competition was on.
Mary’s V Lansdowne: (10-7)
Having watched Lansdowne play earlier, we knew going into this match we knew that it would be a tougher challenge. Of particular concern was their pack which appeared particularly big and very strong. (assisted no doubt by the over age players they fielded in the front row – a discussion for another day!) but our guys were up for it, mentally at least.
Within a couple of minutes it became evident that some of the less experienced forwards were in serious trouble and so immediate changes were made. Jamie replaced Big Mick and Gorm replaced Callo (both suffering with back injuries). The Lansdowne scrum remained very strong for the first half and the absence of a solid platform made it difficult to run any real back line moves.
Darragh Keller’s defence was first rate and his ball handling at the back of the struggling scrum got us out of many a tough situation. Heavy also relieved much of the pressure with his well placed kicks and excellent tackling.
Releasing ball from the scrums as quickly as possible allowed our backs to relieve some of the pressure from the forwards and also to apply some pressure of our own where we were obviously stronger. A well converted penalty from Ray gave the whole team heart and so we pushed on.
Darragh Fitz open play kicking was first rate which Nellie and Curzo continually chased down very well. This allowed us to return the tables and a relieving kick from Heavy in our 25 was chased down by Nellie and Crotty. Crotty caught it on the bounce and ran 50mtr to score under the posts. Ray converted.
Sustained pressure from Lansdowne forwards in our 25 combined led to a disappointing converted try for Lansdowne.
Apart from the win, the most positive aspect of this game was the way our pack dominated the scrums for the last 10 minutes. All credit to them in very difficult circumstances.
Semi Final – Mary’s V Trinity (6-6 full time) – (9-6 in extra time)
Without doubt, this was the match of the tournament and unfortunately went to extra time. Mary’s lost possession in loose play and there followed a penalty which Trinity converted. Mary’s however immediately responded with a penalty converted by Colin Sheridan. Ray subsequently converted another penalty.
While we initially tried to rest the players from the Lansdowne game, it was clear that Trinity were not about to take any prisoners and as the game went on, the injuries sustained in the Lansdowne match started to show themselves requiring wholesale changes.
Wheel replaced Jamie and played as well as I have ever seen him throughout the day. He scrimmaged excellently and tackled everything that moved in open play. A really good day for him. (Big Wheel well pleased)
McGill (a class act!) replaced Devlin. Callo replaced Gorm, Ross Wynn replaced Daly, As the matched entered extra time (at 6-6) however we felt we needed more punch and so Barnie replaced Ross Wynn, Ray Crotty replaced Ciarzo, Wez (now injured) was replaced by Tanto. Neil Murphy came back from injury, following an unusual pain relieving treatment, and replaced Doyle and he made a very significant impact for the rest of the day both in the scrum and in open play.
Simon O’ Donnell played particularly well at 15 and caught many difficult high balls under pressure.
Excellent defence by Mary’s in first half of extra time (against the hill and the wind) meant that we now had the advantage. Excellent forwards pressure in the second half set Darragh Fitz up for a drop goal which he coolly converted with 9 seconds to go. Happy days!
A really excellent team effort all told.
Final – Mary’s V Lansdowne U23’s (5-19)
As the tournament was already running 90 minutes late, the organisers were keen to get started so Mary’s only had a 20 minute break before the final. This proved to be too big an ask for the players having just played 20 minutes extra time against Trinity (a 50 minute high intensity match). Having said that, the spirit of the team was good and they gave it everything. After only 10 minutes however it was obvious that the 20 Minutes was not enough time to recover as our guys were obviously out on their feet. The Addition of Neil Murphy to the front row made a big difference and balanced our scrum which allowed us to set up a decent platform for the backs. The forwards deserve special mention for their open play tackling and rucking during this game.
No score in the first half was a good achievement.
Tiredness kicked in and allowed Lansdowne to score early in the second half. To their immense credit the forwards camped on the Lansdowne line resulting in a penalty to Mary’s who kicked a penalty to touch. We won the lineout and walked the maul 15mtr over the Lansdowne line. While the linesman acknowledged the try, the referee was unfortunately unsighted and so it was not given. This, I felt, was the death blow to the now exhausted team.
An interception try by Lansdowne should have killed us off but again the forwards rallied and when we were awarded a penalty inside their 25, Mc Gill simply decided he was going to score. He charged straight at the defence and no one could stop him. (Brilliant!). Ronan Lennon came on for last 10 minutes and his class (and fresh legs) were evident.
Overall the guys (to a man) played with enthusiasm and spirit and although we did not bring home the silverware, we should all be very proud of how they represented the club and themselves.
I’m certainly looking forward to the rest of the season!!!