St Mary’s College RFC U20s V Old Belvedere RFC U20s
Purcell Cup Final
Sunday 9th April 2017
By mid-second half of this Purcell Cup Final there came a pulsating energy and determined resolve radiating from the Marys team that was unshatterable. They had faced the storm, they had felt the pain and they were on a mission, a drive to victory. It mattered not what others might do they were willing to hurt for each other and never falter. And so it was.
This was a win redolent of Marys’ victories of old, it had the bravery and belief, the understanding of need that made this, and all those wins of old possible. It was good that many of those involved in some of the older victories were present to witness the joy and fulfilment; particularly, Joe Fanagan, winning captain of St Marys first ever Leinster Senior Cup, in 1957-58 season. He was there with his nephew and current vice president, David; both so proud of this victory.
It has to be said that this was a wounded team, bereft of its stalwart captain, Darragh Mc Donald, and many other injured teammates, supposedly, therefore with little hope of winning. Nobody told them that; and they knew otherwise. The feature of their play was bravery and commitment, with an exemplary defence that was truly adamantine.
Every player must take a bow as each one was an indispensable link in a steel chain. As well as the players, the coaches, Mark Sexton and Jonathan Garth, the Director of U20 Rugby Dave Donohue, Manager and sponsor, Gerry (G-Mack) McCormack and their colleagues must be given great credit. Dave and Gerry had a major input on the field too as their player sons were excellent. They were fortunate too in having Dr Pat Tunney in support all season, as he was too for the senior team and has played a vital supportive role in many respects. So well deserving too of praise and congratulations are the president, Kevin Conboy and Director of Rugby, Alan Shirley both aglow with pride in the young team, two men who have over many years given so much to rugby at all levels at St Marys.
After the game, the presentation was especially germane, as it was the highly popular Niall Rynne, current vice president of Leinster, a devoted Marys’ man, who made it. And he spoke with feeling and knowledge in encouraging these young players to stay loyal to rugby and to their clubs.
With a harsh wind in support a big, fast Belvo team started fast and swept down the field in waves. It looked somewhat ominous, when after only three minutes Belvo converted a penalty. They continued to attack, but the Marys defence was resolute and accurate. Not a millimetre was given, with good line speed and almost no tackles missed. This was a feature of the game. Heads and hearts went in, time after time. Sweat rolled and breaths rasped, but never an inch. Then Marys made it up field. The scrum, which throughout game was dominant and a major factor in the win, won a ball and it went from right to left. David Boyle, on to impressive David Mathews and Luke O’Brien, taking a sharp, deadly vector, cut open the defence and timed his switch to Sean McCahill precisely, and he sliced in for a try. Now it was 5 – 3. After 30 minutes, Belvo got a converted try, 5 – 10. Derry O’Connor, today on the wing, who had a fine game and has been impressive all season at scrumhalf, got a penalty back for Marys before half time; 8 – 10.
After seven minutes of the second half, Belvo added a penalty, 8 – 13 and on 19 minutes they added another and stretched it to 8 – 16. It was looking a little uncomfortable. That was when the Marys’ boys cried halt! Soon they were running hard lines and driving players off the rucks, the scrum was heaving the air vibrated with anticipation. On 26 minutes a ball kicked ahead by Belvo, was picked up by Sean McCahill, he arced outside three defenders and straightened as he zoomed down the left touchline with defenders in his wake. Sean was held up near the line. The ball was kept alive and, the pack took it on in drives. Closer to the line the got, swaying and swerving as the inched forward, until as by fate, Michael McCormack, who had been outstanding all game picked and went and exploded over the line. Derry who had by now found his range, converted and it was 15 – 16. Whew!
Belvo who had a strong team and fine players who fought to their last, now they seemed to know. They tried and tried, spearing up the middle, bashing their way, but this is what the Marys lads wanted. They picked them off like snipers on a hill.
A floated kick was put down into the 22, by David Boyle and then the squeeze came, drive after drive, Belvo resisted, but it increased and they gave away a penalty and Derry by now deadly, made it 18 – 16 and it was 27 minutes of second half .Belvo came back, but by now the blue boys were enjoying their game and soon they got another penalty and Derry said “thank you”, 21 – 16. Belvo fought to the end, but Marys held out for a sizzling victory. There was great joy, but no exultation for Belvedere were worthy rivals and proud warriors.
It was David Mathews, (son of former great International, Philip) the day’s captain, and who had an impressive game, who deservedly, received the cup from Niall.
It was good to see the future St Marys’ players show true, blue heart. The pack had been heroic, led fearlessly and brilliantly by Michael McCormack. He was particularly well supported by Matt Ridgeway, Ronan Cullen and Sean Donohue. The backs too were impervious and adventurous, with sound half backs, strong centres and a fine back three. The replacements too fitted in and found the same pace and resolve.
15 S McCahill, 14 J Ryan, 13 L O’Brien, 12 D Mathew (Capt), 11 D O’Connor,10 D Boyle, 9 C Kavanagh, 8 S Donohue, 7 J O’Gorman, 6 R Dowling –Cullen, 5 H Mulema, 4 M Ridgeway, 3 M McCormack, 2 M Hoey, 1 B Mannion.
Replacements D McGill, C Carey, R Trew, A Schuster, C Dalton, J Kennedy, H Fitzpatrick.