30.01.2011 U20 Premier XV v Old Wesley (A)

30/01/20112:30pmJ.P. Fanagan LeagueOld Wesley7 – 25St. Marys U21s 1st XVAway

St. Mary’s V Old Wesley (25-7)

The Squad:
1.Shane Kearney 2. Rory O’Donovan 3. Robert Ferris 4. Gavin Thornberry 5. Ronan Lennon 6. Mark Fallon 7. Thomas Lamboley 8. Darragh Keller 9. Chris Lilly 10. Dara Fitzgerald 11. Owen Moriarty  12. Ciaran Collins, 13. Steve Toal Lennon 14. Ryan O’ Loughlin 15. Ray Crotty 

Subs: Tom O’Reilly. Domhaill Drumm, Stephen Maguire, JJ Clarke, Simon O’Donnell, Colin Sheridan, Harry Norton.

Both sides began strong and it was obvious that we had a game on our hands. This Old Wesley side were far superior to the side they fielded in November last. Their pack was physically strong and their backs well coached. St Mary’s have traditionally started slowly and the coaches have placed a lot of emphasis on this. It was therefore heartening to see that we also started strongly and we were up to the challenge.

Rory O’Donovan and Ronan Lennon combined excellently to deliver a clean line out ball. Robert Ferris broke from the back of the resulting maul to make good ground. Quick ball to the back from the resulting ruck saw good hands out the back line to Crotty (who had come in to the line). A well timed pass from Ray and Owen Moriarty ran in an excellent try in the corner.

Old Wesley returned with a well worked converted try and the real battle began in earnest.

For most of the remainder of the first half the score remained unchanged. While our defence was at all times excellent, our patience, in possession, was sometimes lax and many opportunities were therefore squandered. What was need was for one of the team to do something special and, not untypically, Darragh Keller showed why he is such a formidable and exciting player. Breaking from the back of the scrum, Keller broke through the initial defence on our 22mtr line. By the time the Old Wesley defence caught up to him he had covered almost 50mts. (including an excellent dummy pass to the stranded full back). His off load to the supporting Moriarty was perfectly timed, as was Moriarty’s to Chris Lilly. For a moment it looked as if Lilly had been caught on their 5mtr line but Chris demonstrated that he has dancing feed as he pirouetted twice before crashing over for a truly excellent try.

Our patience was demonstratively improved in the second half and so was our control of the game. Despite the excellent and very physical efforts of the Old Wesley team, we took the initiative and ran in two additional tries and Steve Toal Lennon converted and excellent penalty from distance.

The first of these tries came from an excellent scrum on their 22mtr line. Keller broke at No.8 and made it to within 5mtrs. Ferris picked, drove and offloaded to the supporting Fallon. With Ferris again in support, Fallon drove over and a bonus point was now in sight.

The bonus try came again from the forwards. Again from a good solid scrum, Keller broke away and this time made it all the way. Class!!

All in all this was a positive performance from a squad who have found their confidence and know their ability. Although we started the season poorly, with the losses from four of our first five games, we have won the last five games in a row and our confidence is high. Winning is a habit and we have caught it.

Now before I can be accused of being complacent I note that I am far from it. In actual fact, it doesn’t really matter how I feel. What matters is how the players feel and they now have a huge enthusiasm for the rest of the season and a confidence in their own abilities.

This weekend’s match against Terenure (away) will, as usual be a bruising affair and we will certainly need to on our game to win out. Terenure will be looking for revenge for their narrow defeat earlier in the season but I’m not inclined to give it to them.

See you Sunday.