On Saturday afternoon our J4 returned to league action after the Christmas break .We were away to Guinness RFC in the Metro Division 6 League game.
The day started adversely, firstly our captain Michael Daly was out with a wrist injury, our Prop Taylor had pulled up in training on Wednesday with a recurring neck injury, our Hooker Chris Kane was also out with a calf injury, then the calls came in thick and fast .Dan Hegarty back Row had to pull out with a back injury suffered in a domestic incident. David Daly out half, had man flu, and Naos Connaughton utility player, suffered fractured ribs in a GAA training incident. This was bad enough but then our replacement back row Morgan Mooney pulled up with a hamstring tear in the warm up.
Our replacement Hooker David McGill was not at the grounds. When phoned he said he was never notified but would pack his gear and would be with us in 15 minutes. Thank you Dave.
Things weren’t going our way, but the J4s and J5s are a resourceful bunch and calls were made by Colin Berkley to make sure we had a starting 15 plus subs. Big thanks to Dave Dixon, Gary Masterson, Saban and Ryan Barnes who helped us out after playing a J5 game the previous evening.
Now we were set to play.
The game commenced, Guinness as usual had an enormous pack, with their rolling maul dominating play for the first 25 minutes. Our pack 1-8 got stuck in and held them out on a few occasions, with Captain for the day Padraig Nestor leading from the front with countless tackles and calming influence when things got heated.
His back row partner Gar Lloyd also made numerous tackles. Gar is like a good red wine, getting better with age. He is having a super season so far ,his attitude, great engine , and never give up attitude spreading to all those around him .
It was this engine that made him support our winger James Walsh, who had caught, run, swerved, handed off would be tacklers and gave a pop pass to Gar who finished it off. 5-0 to the star, conversion missed.
After the kick off we secured a penalty. Up stands Sean O’Riordan and slots it over the bar.
Score at half time 8-0 to the blue.
The talk at half time was to keep the ball in their half, kicking to the corners and away from their pack .Changes were made, Gary Masterson was on for Dixon to join his fellow ‘Right Said Fred ‘back row partner Gar and a switch of the half backs, with Denis Daly now at scrum half supplying Christian with quicker ball than he had received in the first half.
They kick off, ball doesn’t go 10. Scrum called, the backs spread and the ball is passed directly to Andrés, one of our men from Chile. This is the last game that he will play for us and he stands up to take the pass, accelerating past their defenders, a jink and then a step of gas he rounds their winger to score an amazing individual try. Con by Sean and we move into 15-0 lead.
Guinness tries to get into our half, but every kick is secured by our back three and they counter attack on every occasion.
It was one such kick that James Walsh ran back, the ball handling from our backs was superb, and we get Sean over for his try. 20-0 con missed. James picks up a calf strain in the move. Mick O’Connor’s name is called to warm up. That is Mick from Kerry, not Mick from the J1 management who was on the sideline supporting.
Guinness to their credit never gave up and got the rolling maul, and rucking game going .It was in this time that Gar received a yellow card for retaliating to a kicking incident he didn’t like, but all the Ref saw was his retaliation .This was followed by another yellow which was harshly given for a suggested slap down intercept by Andrés. Now down to 13 men, we were brave but succumbed a try to Guinness. Con missed. Score now 20-5.
Still down to 13 men, we saw Fanj and Fagan our Seconds rows, winning ball after ball in the lineout, and letting rip at the rucks and mauls. The front 5 stood up when needed and were super. We got into their half and secured another penalty, slotted over by Sean. Score now 23-5.
Yellow cards time up and we are back to full strength. Then at a ruck, their prop runs 10 yards at full pace and takes Gary Masterson out dangerously. A loud shout from the sideline saying “ref health and safety “and we receive the penalty. It is put into the corner. Fanj secures the lineout .Maul begins, then Gar breaks away to score near the posts. Conversion scored now 30-5 with 5 minutes left.
We now throw everything at Guinness with backs and forwards inter passing. One such move led to a pass to Prop David Browne who received it at full pace, which is a pleasure to witness, and he was in for a score only for it to blown up for a forward pass. Boo’s echoed from the large number of Mary’s supporters who had come to support. It wasn’t to be, but with Browner’s newly found fitness, it won’t be long before we get a score from the speedy Prop.
What you have to admire is the team spirit, game control, defence and handling skills which has developed so much .Everyone left looking forward to the cup next week and the remaining league games.