On Friday night under lights on the main pitch in Castle Avenue, our J4s played Clontarf in the first round of the Winters Cup.
Clontarf are currently second in Division 5, and we are currently second in Division 6.
This is Cup rugby and all bets are off.
We had lost a few bodies from our league game v Guinness, out was Sean O’Riordan with bruised ribs, and Andrés had left to travel around Europe. The J4s have two sets of brothers, all Daly’s. We welcomed back captain Mick Daly and out half David Daly. Mick’s brother Denis plays scrum half and Daves brother Peter plays on the wing .They are part of the J4 family, literally!
This Clontarf team were good. They had players who had played at a higher level and had come back down to play J4 rugby .They had excellent individuals but we had an excellent team.
We kicked off into the Clontarf end and they began to play the ball back into our half, with their forwards rucking up the pitch. They showed some skill and trickery , but were smashed in midfield with great tackles from our centre’s Mick Daly and Richard Pyne .Our lads were up for this game and Clontarf were in for a fight . They assumed that because we were in a Division below them that this game would be an easy game. They were in for a rude awakening.
Our out half Dave kicked for the corner. Winger Mick O’Connor chased the kick and put pressure on the full back that kicked for touch. We were inside their 22. Lineout won by Shane Fanning, ball spread wide through the hands, ball rucked again quick hands, ball gets to Richard Pyne who dives for the line. Try converted by Dave. 7-0 to the star. This was against the run of play as Clontarf had dominated possession but could not score missing penalties at goal. We were more clinical with the ball, but had to work extremely hard in defence to stop the Clontarf wall of attack.
Top of the tackle count was Denis Daly and Gar Lloyd, these 2 were like machines, putting in tackles non stop for 80 minutes. Their efforts spread to the whole team, and our backs were amazing in defence. Owen Clery our backs coach was glowing with pride with their performance. It is great to see what you’ve done in training come to the fore on the pitch .We probed again into their half , with Denis “man of the match “getting in for a try in the corner , conversion missed . Score 12-0 with five minutes remaining in the first half. Then Pyner is penalised at a tackle. He is not happy with the decision and debates with the Ref. Pyner is a very good player, one of the guys who puts in the tackle and gets straight back up to challenge for the ball. He likes to get involved and is not afraid of the dirty work. He needs to know what he has done wrong as he thinks he is perfect. This is a great trait. The coaches know he had his game hat on when they see this reaction. Pyner still not happy with the decision goes into the next tackle, holding onto the Clontarf player around the ankles while the ball is gone. Still not releasing he gets a thump to the head from the Clontarf forward. Then the red mist comes down and Pyner retaliated. Their centre gets involved. The ref sees the two centre’s at each other and outcome two yellow cards. Pyner is off, something that happens to Pyner on occasions, but we wouldn’t change him as it wouldn’t be Pyner without that fight! He is getting better, as he is reminded before every game “Pyner shut it ”
Half time 12-0.
Flats tells us that the game is far from over and that we had been clinical, but they still had alot of possession, the next score is vital. If we score they will be playing catch up rugby and if they score their heads will be up and it will be a dog fight to the final whistle. How right he was.
We begin the second, absorbing pressure. Then we receive our second yellow. David Browne our tight head Prop is binned for coming in at the side of a ruck and taking it down. Browner is the rock of the pack. The first name in the team sheet .He always delivers. He is now more mobile and takes the balk at pace and always puts in the effort at the coal face of forward battles. We are down to 13 players when they score their try in the corner. Conversion missed .12-5 to the star.
They keep us pinned in our own half. James Hynes is now on for Padraig Nestor who is replaced due to damaged ribs. James (Bfoot) is a great tackler and another player who puts his body on the line to steal ball at the breakdown .He does this close to our line and we receive a penalty for not releasing. Relief, the ball is kicked to touch for a rest bite for both the players and the supporters. We are back to full strength for two minute until Dan Hegarty is sin binned for some offence we don’t see. 14 men v 15. 10 mins to play. Backs to the wall. Every man stands up. Mick O’Connor had claret pouring from his nose. The tackles are hard. We keep them out, wave after wave .They knock on in the ruck, cheers roar out from the sidelines. We clear for touch for them to come at us again. They get a penalty and decide to kick to the corner. More pressure again we keep them out. Then they move the ball to their centre’s, tackle made they come in from the sides. Penalty. Dave Daly stands up, he has had a great game, and all his kicks find touch except this one. The supporters have their hearts in their mouth. Suggestions are made if they score we will have 20 mins of extra time. Eventually the ref shouts last play. We somehow get the ball and kick it dead. I don’t know what happened because of the emotion, passion and nail biting finish to a super cup game.