St Mary’s College RFC V Dublin University FC
AIL Division 1A
Friday 10th November 2017.
A dismal evening hung like a veil, as incessant rain in windless air, saturated the ground and spirits. Yet the greatness of rugby football keeps us all locked in its grip and dredges hope from our profundity. And although the result was bilious to us the game was not, nor were our most welcome guests Dublin University (TCD) who were gracious and sporting. Their team showed endless defensive accuracy and deserved their slender win. For it was defence that ultimately made the difference.
It was an exciting fast paced game between two well matched sides, fighting for air. Marys started well and dominated most of the first half. At times they were playing almost like their exceptional first half performance V Lansdowne (a template for the rest of the season). It was really when the home side went behind in the second half that the confidence barometer swung the other way, infusing the visitors with belief and while Marys never lost fight nor hope they were unable to break the white line. Again both sides had some fine attacking moves. In the set pieces, fortunes swayed. TCD’s organisation was probably better than ours, but within all parameters there was little to separate the teams as can be seen from the score. Having scored two very fine tries in the first half and lead 15 – 3, it was indeed painful to let it slip. There were some good and promising performances. In the forwards, Tom O’Reilly was particularly prominent, and scrummaged well. When Emmett Ferron came on he impressed. Once again Caelan Doris showed his value, did some superb defensive work and had a wonderful break, leading to a try. The skipper, Ciaran Ruddock has a heart of steel, he toiled and supported in every possible way; he never stopped lifting his men onwards, with words and example. He is a true leader. He deserves support in every respect. With all that in mind he received the SoftCo MoM award.
Behind the pack, the backline worked hard, Marcus O’Driscoll took his score well and is getting back to match fitness. Craig Kennedy deserves most credit. His defence is highly reliable, his work rate excellent and he timed his run and .pass to perfection to make a major contribution to Tim Maupin’s try.
Marys, playing down towards the Road end, started very well and soon were putting pressure on the visitors defence. From a lineout TCD were penalised and Conor struck a fine penalty, 3 – 0. And Marys continued to attack at every opportunity. A loose ball was picked by Tommer, who plunged through the cover made 10 metres and put it back, it came to the elegant Caelan, just inside the TCD half and he sailed over the ground like an antelope, he made it almost to the line, then put it back and it came out to Marcus who stepped and went over. It was 8 – 0. On 24 minutes TCD made it 8 – 3, with a penalty. It was 28 minutes and things were heating a ruck ball was delivered, left to right via Conor and Marcus to Craig looping in from the left wing, he straightened and timed his pass to his incising cousin Terry Kennedy (first time the two cousins played AIL together), he scorched along, drawing in the cover and then exactly on cue, he slipped it to Tim and he smashed through two, to ground in Carvill Corner. Conor converted beautifully and it was 15 – 3. Just before half time TCD had a penalty to the Well Corner. A maul was formed and then split to allow the carrier, Dunne, through; Half Time 15 – 8.
The second half had just begun when a kick ahead by TCD into the St Marys’ 22 was run back, but a slip and fall led to the ball going loose and TCD pounced, and scored in the corner through Finlay. It was 53 minutes when Mollen who had converted the penalty and the try, scored another penalty to put TCD ahead for the first time. Marys mounted a fierce siege on the Trinity line. It went on for more than ten minutes, with pick and drives and backline probes but an admirable, concentrated and accurate defence was chink-less. Eventually, a turnover was acceded and the siege lifted. So it all ended 15 – 18
Our Season’s Reboot (no pun meant)
St Mary’s College RFC is 117 years old and has had great and some not so great times. One thing it has always had, character. It has that quality now too in great abundance. It shows, from our president, David Fanagan, steadfast, and steeped in Marys’ familial history, to our newest team; to our boys and girls our men and women, players and supporters. It shows clearly too, in our senior squad in the young adventurous and brave coaches, Peter and Steve, in the efficient and dedicated management under Paudge, in the exceptional director of rugby, Alan, who behind the scenes, makes it all happen, and in the talented, developing players, including their courageous, committed and much admired captain, Ciaran Ruddock.
It is clear that we are not in the best place, not where we would like to be, but here is where we are and here is some reality. We have only played seven of our eighteen games. We have eleven to come. Now some of those may be particularly difficult, but several are less so and we will target them. Yes we need to improve further our defence, our organisation and our kicking, particularly positional kicking. However, this is a young squad and they are improving, and will improve.
What about us the members, what can we do and maybe what have we not done? Well, anyone who was there tonight will have noted that there were more TCD supporters than Marys’ ones on the terraces. And most of all they will have noted that they (TCD) were louder, more enthusiastic and encouraging than we were. This was not the first time that it has been like that this season. So, we can raise our support, get out on the terraces, also we can stay after games, meet the players and build our social team. We can also join those who go to the away games and help our team realise its potential and its belonging; we can make a real effort. It can never be underestimated the extremely positive effects of vociferous support; it does make a difference. Those few who think it more productive to criticise and complain please consider instead, positively getting behind the team.
We have faced adversity before and we have prevailed. The collective will shall drive us on, that wonderful warm feeling of belonging, of us. Our record is one of the best club records in the country, we have very fine facilities and we are mainly all close friends and social family. Okay, we have not the money nor the perversity to chase every top class school leaver, but we have renown and history that entices excellent young players and persons to join us.
So let us go forwards with belief and hope, and support in every way we can, our lads; our coaches, our players and all those who are working to improve in every way our club and its fortunes.
Team (Rolling Replacements X12)
15 T Kennedy, T Maupin, 13 D Moroney, 12 M O’Driscoll, 11 C Kennedy, 10 C Dean, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 J Dilger, 7 N McCarthy, 6 C Doris, 5 C O’Flaherty, 4 C Ruddock (Capt), 3 A Coyle, 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, C Ryan, H Kelleher, J Aungier, E Ferron, R Glynn.