J5 XV v Clontarf (H) – 18.10.2019

St. Mary’s College 12 – Clontarf 17

St. Mary’s J5 side faced familiar opposition Clontarf in Metro Div 10 on Friday night in Templeville Road. Both sides having played each other in a preseason game just a few weeks ago in Castle Avenue which saw Clontarf narrowly win.

The game started off at a blistering pace with Clontarf immediately collecting their own kickoff and putting pressure on the Mary’s defence almost getting in for a try save for some desperate defending to keep them out with Mary’s eventually winning a penalty allowing us to clear our lines.

After this phase, the team began to settle into the match and started putting pressure on the Clontarf running game and giving them less space. This led to several Clontarf errors giving Mary’s a try inside the Clontarf 22 which led to a try on the wing for Dylan Croke. This would be the last time in the half Mary’s posed an attacking threat with Clontarf scoring a try very soon after kickoff and then a further try giving Clontarf a 14-5 lead at half time after having possession for most of the half.

The second half was much improved for St. Mary’s with scrum half Alan McPhillips controlling the tempo of the game and the team began to get much more success in attack. Several powerful carries from Jack Cosgrave, David Browne, David Kennedy in the pack and from captain Eric Dunne and Aidan Boyle in the backline started to bring St. Mary’s back into the game. The majority of the second half was played in the Clontarf half and was a fiercely physical contest with Mary’s clocking up several penalties, without a functioning lineout they resorted to quick tap penalties which became a main part of their attack. Under intense pressure, Clontarf resorted to conceded a string of penalties within their own 22 and ended up with 2 players in the bin. After several attack phases, James Casey broke over the line only to be high tackled in the process which forced the ref into awarding a penalty try putting just a 2 point margin between the sides with minutes to go.

Unfortunately St. Mary’s did not retain possession for long after kickoff and in a desperate attempt to reclaim the ball they conceded several penalties. This allowed Clontarf to slow the game down and tack on a further 3 points. This would be the last score of the night giving Clontarf a 17-12 win. Although they will be disappointed not to have won the game, St. Mary’s can take many positives from the second half performance and will hope to build on that in their next game.