Match Report –
St Mary’s College 8 – 10 Stillorgan RFC
On Saturday afternoon St Mary’s J5 welcomed behemoths Stillorgan RFC to Templeville Road. The build-up the game was fraught with uncertainty as the J4 were playing at the same time and numbers were low. Colin Burkley channelled his inner gangland boss and spent the week giving amnesty to all for past transgressions. This led to the return of several players, many of whom hadn’t graced a rugby pitch in years and others who hadn’t touched a ball since their names were named and shamed after training like a low rent Stubbs Gazette.
The game itself was delayed due to a mix-up on the part of the J4 referee who claimed he thought the game was on Sunday. For legal reasons we can’t speculate that he was hungover and not arsed. This meant that the j5 referee moved across to the other pitch and a new ref had to be found at short notice. Luckily the Marys coaching team had just the man for the job and Mick Flats ran home to get his referee outfit and whistle.
Mary’s kicked off to Stillorgan and began the game at a very high tempo. Coach Stephen ‘Smudge’ Taggart appeared worried by the high tempo and was urging players to conserve energy after a mere 5 minutes of play. Both teams were evenly matched in open play but Mary’s did seem to have a slight advantage with Stillorgan camped in their own half. The Mary’s lineout did malfunction at first with the pack seemingly unfamiliar with the calls, a first for many of them. The entire pack seemed hungry for work with every player taking the ball on and making yards. Gary Masterson started the ball rolling with a trademark diagonal run which made a metre before David Dixon carried into contact fully upright for another metre gain. Dixon followed up his run by starting an argument with the opposition Number 8 which threatened to turn into a brawl, Dixon refusing to back down and the referee looking suspiciously like a man who forgot his cards.
The Mary’s backline looked sharp with new outhalf Luke Maher pulling the strings and some sensuous interplay from the centre pairing despite the captain explicitly stating that the backs “keep the fancy shit for tipper”.
Number 8 Tony Flynn made yards when the opposition left the ruck unguarded and he powered through aided by James Collery. Unfortunately nothing came of the opportunity and the next time Flynn got his hands on the ball was to knock it on from the back of an uncontested scrum before falling over, the excitement obviously getting the better of him. A temporary reshuffle just prior to halftime saw Steve Walkin come on in the front row and Andrew Fitzpatrick, just out of retirement, come on at centre. Shortly afterwards Stillorgan went under the posts and converted to make it 7-0.
Minutes later Mary’s found themselves with a penalty in front of the posts which Luke Maher converted with ease. 7-3 going into the break.
The second half started with Mary’s cleanly taking the kick off before being immediately turned over. Once again the support players underestimating how fast James Casey is with ball in hand. Despite this the Mary’s defence held firm, winning a free kick from which Gary Masterson ran the width of the pitch before sneaking over the line to score. A missed conversion left it 7-8 to Mary’s.
With Stillorgan looking tired Mary’s could smell the win and threw caution to the wind, immediately giving away a penalty for offside play leaving the score at 10-8 to Stillorgan. Mary’s made a number of substitutions in the second half which saw hooker Ryan Barnes move into outhalf to replace the injured Luke Maher and Andrew Doran come on for his first appearance since retiring with a severe case of indolence earlier this season. Mary’s spent the remainder of the half camped inside the Stillorgan 22, battering the opposition defence with little or no success. However, as the game wore on and bodies began to tire Stillorgan resorted to illegality to maintain their lead. After Stillorgan failed to release in front of their own posts the referee searched his pockets frantically for anything yellow but came up empty. Deputising outhalf Barnes stepped up for the difficult kick but couldn’t convert due to the angle. Play continued with Mary’s J5’s doing their best Jehovah’s Witness impression, knocking on every door with no success.
Stillorgan, emboldened by the referee’s inability to send anyone to the bin forgot that he could still give penalties and went offside directly in front of their posts. The penalty was given and the last play was called. Frantic attempts were made to bring the injured outhalf back on for the kick but Stilloran were vocal in their protests and threatened to protest to the branch if he was allowed back on for the kick. Outhalf Barnes stepped up again despite the difficult angle and took the kick which just missed the target and went out for a lineout. No time for another play.
Final score Mary’s 8 –10 Stillorgan