|St. Marys J4 XV
|16 – 12
The J4s (2nd in table with a game in hand) hosted NUIM Barnhall (1st) in Templeville Road on Saturday afternoon in what may turn out to be the league decider.
The first clash between the teams in Barnhall earlier in the season was a very tight affair with Barnhall edging it 10-9 so we expected another close contest and weren’t disappointed.
Mary’s started well with the pack handling well and going through the phases. Early pressure and territory were rewarded when good quick passing on the blind side put prop Alan Godfrey over in the corner. The angle was too tight for the conversion but Mary’s had an early 5-0 lead.
With both sides evenly matched, this game was always going to come down to possession and discipline. After our early spell of possession had yielded points, it was Barnhall’s turn. They managed a sustained period of possession and took play into our half. Their lineout maul was proving very effective and a rumble up to our line gave them the chance to break from the back and get the try after 22 minutes. They missed the conversion and the scores were level at 5-5.
Mary’s then showed effective use of possession after 30 minutes. Barnhall were conceding penalties at the breakdown and Teddy brought us down into their half. From a good lineout, play went wide for wing David Carpenter to make good ground. Scrum-Half Ross Wynne made a trademark darting break from the breakdown and nearly made the line but couldn’t free his arms for the touch-down. Support was there in numbers though and No. 8 Padraig Nestor picked the ball and got the score from close range. Again the angle was against Teddy and the scores stood at 10-5 to Mary’s.
Barnhall’s indiscipline gave Teddy a kickable penalty on the Barnhall 22 on the stroke of half-time and our 10 made no mistake to give Mary’s a 13-5 lead at half-time.
We knew that Barnhall would come back into the game and there was still a lot of rugby to be played and sure enough, 11 minutes into the second half, Barnhall scored a converted try to make it 13-12.
Mary’s came right back into it and some sustained pressure in the Barnhall 22 led to more indiscipline with their 10 committing a professional foul at the breakdown and seeing yellow for 10 minutes. At this stage our small squad had been hit with injuries with out-half Teddy departing with a groin injury and second-row Joe Doddy suffering a rib injury.
We ran the penalty close to the Barnhall line but after a succession of surges we hadn’t gotten the try so opted to kick another penalty in front of the posts, with Carpo doing the honours to extend the lead to 16-12 with less than 20 minutes to go.
Barnhall came at us strongly for the remainder of the match, kicking penalties deep into our half and using their lineout maul, but the Mary’s team and especially the pack put in a huge effort to hold them out and claim the victory.
That was Barnhall’s last game and Mary’s have their final game in hand to claim the title against old rivals Terenure in Templeville next Saturday 12th at 1.00.
Barnhall’s small number of supporters outnumbered Mary’s in our own club on Saturday so we’d like to ask your help in changing that next week. If you are free and want to see a local derby with the team in blue aiming to win to clinch the J4 Premier League title, please come down and make your voices heard.
Gavin Rafferty, Manager
15. Paul Whyte 14. Nick Cunningham 13. Darragh O’Neill 12. Paul Moran 11. David Carpenter 10. Brian Moran (Stephen Hicks) 9. Ross Wynne 8. Padraig Nestor 7. Phil Conway 6. Tim Henderson 5. Joe Doddy (Kenny McArdle) 4. John Twomey 3. Alan Godfrey 2. Eamon Moran 1. Ross Kelly.