1st XV v Cork Constitution (A) by D. O’Brien 25.11.2017

Cork Constitution FC V St Mary’s College RFC

            21                                            19  

AIL Division 1 A

Temple Hill

Saturday 25th November 2017


The last kick of the match took away what was without doubt an emphatically deserved victory for the visiting team.  President David Fanagan’s eyes, with tears glistening, for the deep sadness and disappointment he felt for his players and coaches, clearly indicated the feelings of all Marys’ people there.

However, amidst the desolation there was an aura of pride and an uplifting feeling from the catharsis, as every person who wore blue on or off the field today, soared in all respects.  As the game wore on and deep belief, and will, took hold on the field, the pace, the beat of the game rose steadily and the cheers rose along with them.  Marys, Marys, Marys, rang out o’er Temple Hill.  A marriage, a unison of players and supporters.  This is what the president had called for, this is what the coaches worked on, this is what the players strove for.  Joyce had brought with her, a busload of faithful Maryites and they merged with the many car trippers and train spotters, all responding to the call.   Peter Burke and Steve Bradshaw, afterwards expressed their disappointment, but their great pride in their players and of the supporters who helped so very much today. They too, can be proud of their work and progress they have brought about.

The start was not good, within four minutes we were behind to a relatively soft try and then a penalty was added to our dismay. Within 20 minutes we were 15 – 3 behind with only,  a fine Conor Dean penalty to Con’s two tries, a conversion and a penalty, before a remarkable fightback unfolded.

In that fightback, every player on the field powered-up mentally and physically, and were on occasions heroic.   The scrum became irresistible and won several penalties and the wobbly defence became assured and aggressive and the open play became creative and adventurous.  One area still requiring adjustment is the lineout with too many balls going amiss.  The pack, missing key players, devoured work.  The front row was powerful, with all five involved excellent.  Adam was a revelation, Tommer just as Tommer is at his best, super; and Jack showed why he has been tagged for the future.  Emmett continued his exciting form, and Richie, in the loose and tight, was a powerful leader.  Rudds, the skipper, was part of why the team was as it was today and is an understated hero.  He went and went and worked and worked, when most would drop.  Cathal O’Flaherty, played his best game since he came to Marys, with piercing runs and sailing takes, and secure tackles, he was outstanding.  Outstanding too, was Caelan Doris.  When there is supreme class mixed with absolute bravery and commitment, good things happen, and he made so much happen today; superb.  Hugh Kelleher, back from injury was in the middle of things making it difficult for Con all game, and young Darragh, tried with all his ability, adding much to the ruck, maul defence, and at scrum time. Mark Fallon got time and put in a useful cameo to get himself back.

Paddy at Nine, much more than a link, tweaked his kicking, so that it was effective and judicious.   His passing was generally good and his defence was vital.  There is usually one man who sets the spark, who lights the fire; that was Conor (Deano) Dean at outhalf.  He scored four penalties, one under great pressure from near halfway into a strong breeze, and a conversion.  He ran his line with growing confidence and sagacity and he bewildered the Con defence on numerous occasions, coming excruciatingly close to scoring twice.  His defence too was good, he well deserved his SoftCo MoM award.

It is very good to have Marcus (Modser) back, he put pressure constantly on the home defence, organised the midfield defence which was the best it has been this season and alertly saw his chance to thread through under the posts, a grubber, then shoot in after it to score  a super try at a vital stage. He makes a snug fitting partnership with Darren, who must have covered the field many times over in his efforts in attack, defence and covering.  Well done to both.  Ryan, is getting back to fitness on the wing and he had a few probing runs.  Myles covered sensibly and was keen to attack when the opportunity arose.  He has real potential and is developing well.  Craig has been remarkable in every game he has played.  Today, he bravely agreed to fill the 15 spot for the first time, a daunting task.  He did all that was asked of him. Well done Craig.

The game

As mentioned, the game started badly for Marys, for after just four minutes, when attacking, a loose pass was intercepted and Con went on the attack. They set up a maul in the Marys’ 22, it was controlled by the defence, but Con took on the ball with runners from deep, and after several phases, scored close in, it was converted. Con has a well-balanced side with good ball retention a key asset, so, the team works good vectors with support runners continuously coming from deep, making it hard to defend.  They have good discipline.  So at his stage it was looking like a tough afternoon for the Dubliners.

Marys discipline has also improved and that was a factor in the visitors’ performance today.   It was 14 minutes when Conor landed his first penalty.  When the clock showed 21 minutes Con made a break from a ruck after a lineout in the Marys half.  After 30 metres gain, a kick ahead bounced cruelly for Marys’ defence and Con pounced to score.  The try was not converted but Con led 15 – 3.

This seemed to be the touch paper, for Deano started to buzz and soon we were in attack.  After a concerted bombardment of the Cork line, on 25 minutes, a ball was delivered to Modser, who put that kick through and scored.  With the conversion it was 15 – 10. We came straight back on attack, got a penalty on 27 minutes and from an angle, Deano obliged and we were 15 – 13.  That was how the half ended although we came very close to scoring as the confidence flooded the blood of the Marys men and they went on attack.

The second half came and soon it was clear that the confidence and determination had hardened in the Marys team, for Con ran the ball, time and again, and Marys stood up and drove them back.  Then on 57 minutes Deano put us ahead, with a well struck penalty, 15 – 16.  Con fought back and got a penalty to snatch back the lead, 18 – 16, then on 75 minutes with Marys in full steam ahead got that difficult penalty and Deano kept his belief and cool and we were again ahead, 18 – 19.  The most heartening thing was we did not shirk, no we continued in attack mode and the clock went on.  It was 81, 82, 83 minutes and still we attacked, then on 84 minutes we were penalised and Con made their way up the field and alas, Marys gave a penalty away out on the touch line at the 22, on almost 85 minute.  The last kick of the game and a young replacement outhalf, Quinlan, kept his head and struck the ball through, destroying the justifiable hopes.  It ended 21 – 19.  Ululation.

Next week

Now we face the team below us Buccaneers, (who won today V UCD), next Saturday, at Templeville Road. This is a really big game for us and it is the last home game before Christmas. There is belief now and if the squad and the supporters step back into the mind mould of leaving off today, then if we were playing Leinster we could beat them. That they do is vital. The slumbering giants that are the Marys’ supporters have wakened and we will carry our team, we will make Templeville Road the most feared venue; we will do anything necessary for our team, our club. Come on join all those who made Temple Hill home today and let it rip. Mentally tear into it. Bring your throat lozenges if necessary, bring something blue and wave it while you blast out Marys, Marys, Marys. Maybe we will have Rynner there to lead the chorus.

If you do we will win.

D O’Brien

Team (Rolling Replacements X12)

15 C Kennedy, 14 M Carey, 13 D Moroney, 12 M O’Driscoll, 11, 10 C Dean, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 C Doris,  H Kelleher, 6 D McDonnell, 5 C O’Flaherty, 4 C Ruddock (Capt), 3 A Coyle, 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly,  J Aungier, E Ferron, R Glynn, M Fallon, M Oppermann.