23.04.2011 J4 XV v Barnhall (H)

23/04/20113:00pmWinter’s CupSt. Marys J4 XV17 – 33NUIM BarnhallHome

Marys played Barnhall on Saturday in the semi final of the J4 Col. Winters Cup.  Having beaten Barnhall to the league title by one point we knew we would be facing a hungry side desperate for revenge and the chance to gain some silverware of their own.

Marys started the game strongly and early pressure resulted in a penalty which was kicked by outhalf, Teddy Moran.  Barnhall replied in kind and after 15 minutes the score stood at 3-3.  A quick 22 drop out resulted in a breakaway by centre Darragh O’Neill who passed to the supporting but deceptively slow Wally Moran. He was tackled on the half way line.  The ball was recycled quickly and spread wide. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take advantage of the overlap and spilled possession led to an interception by the Barnhall winger and a 10 – 3 lead for Barnhall approaching half time.  With five minutes of the half remaining  we pushed for a score to end the half positively.  However, with possession turned over, poor tackling allowed Barnhall grab a late unconverted try to take a 15 – 3 lead into the break.

At halftime we were still positive and believed that we could turnaround the half time deficit.  We upped the tempo of the game and started moving the big barnhall side around the pitch.  Eventually after sustained pressure and a number of phases our waif like number 10, squeezed through a gap and dotted down to the right of the posts. 15 -10 and the game was back on.

In what was a recurring problem all day we then lost concentration and allowed Barnhall to gain field position and our usually solid defence allowed them in for a try which extended their lead back to 12 points. Back we came and after holding onto position for more than one or two phases (which we failed to do for most of the day) space developed and a long skip pass by Teddy left Nick Cunningham with what was for him a simple run in. He did well to get as close to the posts as possible and Teddy converted to leave us 22 -17 down with about 10 minutes. Despite not playing to our ability we were in with a shout.  

Unluckily we didn’t gather the kick off and Barnhall again were given cheap field position. Their scrum half eventually got in for a score that finished off the game.  Fair play to Barnhall who on the day deserved their win and they head to the final with our best wishes.

It was a disappointing performance by us to finish the season.  However, it is important to remember the positives. We set out at the start of the season to win the league a goal we have chased as a group for the past 5 years. The J4 league is very competitive with over 30 J4 sides turning out every Saturday  This season is the first time that Marys have won the J4 league since the mid 90’s. We won or drew 5 one score games during the season that allowed us to win the league by one point. This illustrates the spirit of this side.

A big thanks and congratulations to skipper Phil Conway who led by example all year and to coaches Eamon Moran and Tim Henderson who kept us going all year and had us playing a game that allowed us to compete with and beat physically bigger sides on a regular basis. Also thanks to manager Gavin Rafferty who did all the “thankless” tasks, he will be difficult to replace next year.  

Paul Moran