|J.P. Fanagan League
|St. Marys U21s 1st XV
|17 – 6
St Mary’s U21 Premier Vs Blackrock
1. Neil Murphy, 2. Tommy Merideth, 3. Jack McGrath, 4. Robbie Field, 5. Gavin Thornberry , 6. Wesley Wojnar, 7. Gareth Austin, 8. Darragh Keller,
9. Simon O’Donnell, 10. Colin Sheridan, 11. Ciaran Collins, 12. Edouard Nicolay, 13. Steve Toal-Lennon, 14. Ian O’Neill, 15. Ray Crotty 16. Rory O’Donovan, 17. Robert Ferris, 18. Sean Preston, 19. Owen McGill 20. Darragh Maher, 21. Daragh Fitzgerald, 22. Ross Wynn,
This was our second encounter with Blackrock in only three weeks. While it was scheduled to be a home match for us, circumstances forced us to give up our home advantage in lieu of a good playing surface. My thanks to the TLSC for turning up in force again in spite of the inconvenience.
While we are obviously pleased to beat Blackrock again, the performance was far from convincing and for long periods of the game was disjointed, lacked control and discipline and was quite frankly unacceptable from this squad. I hope they have a good rest in advance of this weeks training sessions because I don’t recon it will be pretty.
Blackrock proved themselves to be an honest and hard working opposition in spite of the fact that they were missing several of their key players. Our performance overall lacked the same honesty and commitment. Rock destroyed us in the scrums (something I have not seen for many months). They effectively disrupted our lineout. They won numerous turnover ball and their mauls demonstrated more structure than ours. Our play was loose! Our commitment to the tackle was, at times, half hearted at best. Our place kicking was very poor and many our open play decisions were flawed (what we were thinking of when slap-passing the ball along our back line …while behind our own line.. is beyond me but sums up the attitude on the day quite well.)
That said, we won by a significant margin due to three well executed tries and some decent defence. We applied significant pack pressure in the first 15 minutes resulting in a penalty on the Rock 22. The pack took the decision to go for the touch line and Robbie caught the resulting lineout ball. With Jack McGrath at this back, Robbie powered over for a well worked and deserved try. Conversion was missed.
The pressure applied was having its effect and Rock gave away two penalties which we failed to convert.
On 30 minutes, Gavin Thornberry (who I believe had his best game of the season), broke free and his strong running gained us 30mtrs. He was well supported by Jack who secured the ball for Simon O’Donnell. A charging Robbie Field is something we are used to seeing but in addition to this he demonstrated his quick hands, freeing the ball for Nellie (who still had a lot of work to do) to score a well worked team try . Again the conversion was missed.
The score at half time was 10-6 to St Mary’s (with 10 kickable points missed).
Then came the doldrums. For 30 minutes in the second half the standard of rugby dropped significantly and the only highlights were in fact lowlights. Gareth Austin sustained a split lip (requiring stitches) and so he was replaced by Darragh Maher. Jack received a yellow card (was replaced by Robert). Add this to the shoulder injury sustained by Ciaran Collin earlier in the game (he was replaced by Ross Wynn).
Other changes were Daragh Fitzgerald replaced Colin Sheridan, Sean Preston replaced Neil Murphy and Owen McGill replaced Robbie Field (with the clear instruction from me to summon up the spirit he showed against Lansdowne in the Tomsie Beirne cup) and sure enough he was right there with Steve when he broke for the line. Steve off-loaded to Owen who returned the pass to Steve. A well worked try under the posts. I love it when a plan comes together!
What will however remain a mystery for many years to come was the incident with Ian O’Neill (Nellie) in the last play of the game. Just as we struggle to understand how he covered so much ground in such a short time to carry off that try saving tackle in the 2008 SCT match against CBC, so now we are left wondering how, having received the ball on the half way line with no one to beat, Ian was caught by the muck larger (and one would expect slower) Blackrock hooker after only 15 meters. I’ll leave that question open for discussion.
We were fortunate with the other results on the day. Trinity beat Lansdowne and UCD went down to Clontarf. The competition is back in our hands. If we win the next two games we will have won the league. It’s as simple as that! We will however need to bring a better attitude to the remaining games if we are to secure (for the very first time) this treasured prize.
See you all in Templeville on Sunday next.