Dublin University FC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 6th January 2018.
A new year has sneaked up on us, and looking around these impressive old grounds, College Park and surrounds, we understand a little of what time means and its relativity. The surrounds may have been uplifting and awe inspiring but the result for us was not and was a reversal of the last visit here, when Marys won 24 – 37 last March. Although there were eight backs and four forwards unavailable through injury there was high hope that we would start the year with a victory; alas, it was not to be. And the pain on president, David Fanagan’s face that he bore for his team, expressed the feelings of the club. One very upsetting piece of news regarding brilliant Caelan Doris who was present to support the team, was that he has a serious hamstring injury which will keep him out for the rest of the season, and he will miss the U20 Six Nations. We all wish him well.
Dublin University deserved their victory and, although with some fortune we might have snatched it or at least earned a losing bonus point, in fact we cannot complain as the home side were sharper, more concise and had the edge in most respects. Once again, our defence was breached too often and we ceded too many penalties; in the first 15 minutes we gave away six penalties to none by TCD. Both sides garnered yellow cards at different times during the game. There were in fact short periods during the game when Marys dominated, and were unfortunate not to score.
The young Marys’ backline, with considerable individual talent, lacked group experience and this gave TCD the edge. Sean Kearns at Ten, contributed all of the visitors’ points with a very fine individual try, a conversion and a penalty. Robbie Glynn, normally a scrumhalf, came on in the second half on the wing, and was impressive.
In the pack, young Ronan Watters came on in the second half and showed what fine potential he has. The two sets of forwards were reasonably well matched. The St Marys’ scrum which has had good success during the season was under pressure, and at the breakdown, TCD were faster and sharper. One of the big differences was that, carriers on the TCD side took the ball at top pace, so usually made ground. The St Marys’ lineout was good. Richie Halpin at two, had a high powered effective game all round, carrying and defending well, his throw-ins were accurate; he was outstanding. Another outstanding contributor, was young Nick McCarthy who came on in the backrow early in the game. He was filled with purpose as he ranged over the field like a prowling panther. He carried well, defended securely and contributed handsomely. And so he received the SoftCo MoM award.
It was a cold bright day when Trinity kicked off and set the pace expected from a Smeeth/Maguire trained side. After twelve minutes Trinity got a penalty from a kickable position which they took, 3-0. Only three minutes later, impressive backrower, Byrne, broke through midfield, then neatly chipped ahead and scored a fine try close in; it was converted, 10-0. The visitors stepped up intensity and were rewarded with a penalty for offside (a feature of the game), which Seanie expertly converted. And on 26 minutes, Trinity overthrew a lineout which Richie smartly snitched, he made excellent progress and when he was grounded, put back the ball, it came to Seanie who expertly stepped between two defenders, and swerved in under the posts; he converted and we thought well maybe. However, on 36 minutes an attack by TCD ended with a ruck under the posts, they got the ball back and swung it wide for winger Dixon to score wide out. It was converted with a fine kick, 17-10. We attacked and got a kickable penalty which we took to the corner, TCD took the succeeding lineout, maul down, and received a yellow card. With their big Seven off, it looked as though we could get in, but two more maul efforts from penalties and lineouts, evaporated, and so the half ended, 17-10.
The second half was ten minutes old when their yellow card ended and almost simultaneously, we received one for killing the ball near our line. On 68 minutes, TCD kicked ahead, the ball rolled over the goal line in the corner, as our defender went to tip the ball dead, Jack Mc Dermott following up fast dived under him and scored. The conversion was missed. We attacked hard in the hope of a losing bonus point but a converted penalty on 73 minutes, meant there was no way back for Marys and it ended 25-10.
This now leaves us four points behind TCD and five ahead of Buccaneers, the bottom club. TCD are three points behind UCD. So, it has to be seen as a difficult task ahead, with no games that could be seen as easy targets. However, if we think to the games against Lansdowne and Cork Con, both teams in the top four, it shows that with a near full squad, committed support and deep belief within, we can rise in the ranks. We have two weeks’ break then, the following week face Cork Con, at home on 27th January. If we can play as we did at Temple Hill we stand a very good chance. Further, if we improve our open field defence, and ball retention and if runners take the ball with pace and fierce drive, we can cause an upset. It has to be said again, our coaches, Peter and Steve, are doing all that can be done and have committed, invaluable support from DoR, Alan. In our way, we the supporters must continue to support; and hold our nerve, hold our belief and hold our “whist”.
Team (Rolling Replacements X12)
15 S Toal-Lennon, 14 D Moroney, 13 C Kennedy, 12 M Carey, 11 M Oppermann, 10 S Kearns, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 D McDonnell,, 7, 6 H Kelleher, 5 C O’Flaherty, 4 C Ruddock (Capt), 3 A Coyle, 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, S O’Brien, J Aungier, N McCarthy R Watters, R Glynn.