J4 XV v MU Barnhall (A) 22.09.2016

St. Marys J4s v MU Barnhall

Saturday October 22nd saw St. Marys J4s look to continue their unbeaten start to the season with a tough trip to Parsonstown to face MU Barnhall. After last week’s gruelling encounter with Guinness, the boys in blue were looking to get back to form; a short pitch and bright weather had all the ingredients for a good days rugby.

That isn’t how it started for Marys however, as their typical sluggish start struck again, conceding a few early penalties and ultimately a try to give the homeside an early 7-0 lead. The J4s looked to respond to only their third conceded try of the year and that is exactly what happened. The forwards put their driving maul to use, pushing Barnhall from their 10 right back to inside their own 22. This was the sign of things to come as the boys in blue would large dominate the set piece for the vast majority of the game with great scrummaging from props Robert Dunleavy and David Browne. Sensing a score, the pack drove forward from the lineout once more and got the first Marys score of the day through second row Shane Fanning. This score pulled Marys back to within two of the hosts and allowed the game to open up for the visitors.

The returned kick off saw powerful running and great vision from number 8 and man who, according to  flanker Naos Connaughton should pursue topless modelling for the over 40s, Gar Lloyd which planted the J4s right back into Barnhall territory. Keeping the hosts on the back foot, Marys pressed forward through strong carrying from the likes of lock Richard Fagan and it was not long until it yielded results with flanker Padraig Nestor getting his first try of the afternoon. Not ones to be left out of the equation, it was now the turn of the J4 backs to orchestrate a score. After another great kick off return from Gar Lloyd and strong running from hooker Chris Kane, the backs spread the ball and broke the Barnhall defensive line and it would be Peter Daly to touch the ball down from Marys third try of the match. A half time scoreline of Marys 15-Barnhall 7 meant a lot of great work had been done but there was much more to do.

Much like the beginning of the match, a sluggish start to the second half allowed the homeside to dominate the opening 10 minutes. Slotting over a penalty to bring them back to within five needed to light a fire underneath the boys in blue and that is exactly what happened. From the returning kick off, Marys pinned Barnhall into their own half and that is where the game would largely stay for the rest of the match. Great open field running from the likes of flanker Naos Connaughton and feverish work at the breakdown from the likes of Gar Lloyd, gave the J4s the platform to continue to press the homeside in what backs coach Eoin Cleary described at times looking like a “less skillful version of the all blacks”. Driving off a maul once more, the pack drove barnhall right to the try line, allowing Padraig Nestor to score his second try of the day. With a penalty stretching the lead further and the match drawing to a close, the Marys backs once more drove forward for a final nail in the coffin. Not one to be over taken in the try scoring charts by Nestor, J4 captain and centre Michael Daly, drove at the line, beating several defenders to score his fourth try in four games.

A final scoreline of 28-10 proved a good outing from the J4s, especially for the forwards who took control of the match and didn’t let go. 16 tries scored and only three conceded through four games means the boys in blue find themselves second in Metro 6 but only on points difference behind Old Belvedere. A weeks break now for the bank holiday before a Thursday night game against Trinity college.