J4 XV v Lansdowne (H) by Mick Flats – 14.04.23

J4 XV 25-21 Lansdowne (H) – O’Connor Cup Semi Final

On Friday 14th of April, our J4s played Lansdowne in the semi-final of the O’Connor Cup. A cup we last won in 2012 under the captaincy of Gar Lloyd, after the 100 minute game. If you have not heard the story ask Mossy, he is reluctant to tell it but after a pint he might let you know all. 

Our youthful team under the captaincy of Conor Quinn a truly inspirational captain who has grown the team morale throughout the season. Players may say no Flats. I’m not available to play this weekend because I have sprained my eyebrow or fallen over my dog, but once Quinny calls them they are ready to play. 

He has been the catalyst for this team, by keeping them tuned in, and scoring important tries himself throughout our cup campaign. 

Tonight was no different, after taking an early blow to the head, he would not come off and wanted to finish the job as captain. His proud parents Eoin and Cathy were watching from the stands seeing their son perform week in and week out and maturing as a captain and as a man. 

The scene was set. The first pitch was in pristine condition even after all the heavy rain that fell earlier in the week, great kudos to Peter O’Kelly and Julian Beatty for all their good work. (We won’t even mention the first team trained on it the night before) 

Thanks also to President Gareth Roche for reaching out and organising  Vincent Murray to do the scoreboard. To Paul Pender for opening the dressing rooms on short notice. All this behind the scene stuff is really appreciated by the players. 

Now to the game, this was our first time we played Lansdowne all season, they had beaten our league leaders Railway Union comprehensively in the previous round so we knew we were in for a tough game and it proved to be. 

They started the better but as a team we kept them out. When we did get into their half we came away with a converted  try from Niall Kelly and Thady McKeever, we then had a scrum in their 22, Christian McAlinden exploded from the base of the scrum and bounced off 2 would be tackles to score beside the posts. Thady obliged with the conversion. We now led 14-0. We weren’t finished yet as Thady then slots a penalty over from the 10 yard line. 

17-0 after 30 minutes and we were looking good. This is cup rugby and Lansdowne who were a little shell shocked, started to make ground finishing the half with a converted try to go in 17-7 at half time. 

The second half began with Thady again slotting over a magnificent penalty to make it 20-7 to us. 

Lansdowne upped the tempo and scored to make it 20-14. Lansdowne were throwing everything at us, but our defence was immense, with Andrew Gibbons, Marius, Mathew Kennedy, Jack Cosgrove and Christian outstanding in the pack and Rian Cassidy, Dan McGill putting their bodies on the line in defence literally. 

We knew we needed one more score as Lansdowne could easily break through us again.

We did just that, Thady gave an almighty long pass to Matt Couglan who sprinted in at the corner. 25-14 missed conversion. Lansdowne regroup and pound us to score again under the posts. The ref tells us there will be 10 minutes of injury time. Squishy bum time again. 

We hold out, dug deep and win. 

Our Monday night crew fitness paid off. 

We now look forward to a final next weekend  against the winners of Terenure and DLSP who play later today.

We are now in a final now and go and win it.

Big thanks to a previous O’Connor Cup winner David Gardner, our backs coach Caglar Tuc, forwards motivator Richard Fagan, touch judge Simon Finnegan and all round good guy Chris O’Connor.

A big thanks also to all the support, from the officers, first team, Rugby council, family and friends. 

See you all next weekend for the final.