1st XV v City of Armagh (A) 05.03.22

City of Armagh R F C V St Mary’s College RFC

21                                                10

AIL Division 1B

The Palace Grounds

5th March 2022.


An invitation to stroll around the Orchard County, on a super sunny day, and enjoy its bountiful harvest in a palace, sounds like an aesthetic idyll. Indeed, the locals within and without the palace, were warmly welcoming for the entire visit. Then to have a coven of particularly pleasant, parents, the Halpins, Deans, the Watters, Fanagans, the McCormacks, Corcorans and the  Careys, smilingly assembled, all added to a positive and propitious air. Sadly, 4.00PM saw the idyll die.

Yes, coming here with highest hopes, made the loss all the more painful, although it would be most unfair to inveigh.  City of Armagh RFC, deserved their win.  All the late on St Marys’ work was Sisyphean and it would be likewise unfair, to complain about our players.  Of course they were not at their best and seemed off key, but their character and intent were never in question. In that regard, only just coming back to full fitness, Ryan O’Loughlin, playing on the wing today, was exceptionally sharp.  He struck elusively and hard in attack and his tackling and cover were effective.

Today, there was one young man who was exemplary in all respects, Colm Reilly. He is accurate and highly decisive, and if he gets any sort of good ball, he is a backline’s dream, as he moves the ball with precision and pace. He was really Perpetuum Immobile today, as he plugged holes, made incisions and kicked with accuracy.  He and outhalf partner, Conor Dean have an almost instinctive rapport.  His influence was emphatic and had to receive the SoftCo MoM Award.

As in one of those infuriatingly enigmatic dreams, when it is impossible to get things aligned exactly, fitting correctly or working right, so it was today; frustrating.  Too often, passes just did not connect, tackles crumbled, kicks skewed or connections broke. The amount of work that has gone into all these matter, from the coaches and players is astronomical. To blame or bewail would be wrong and unforgiveable. Those days just happen, so we must instead, help and support.  We have seen the quality and know it is there, and that it will come back into plain sight now.  We have every opportunity to do what we need to do and it is likely, one the opposition for top four, will fall.  So let us do that.  Although, Shannon as predicted have moved upwards, Naas have remained static and so we can see a corridor out. We face Banbridge at home next, on 26th March and that day will be indicative.

We must accord deserved credit to City of Armagh.  Their lineout was accurate and the scrum strong.  They had a good pair of halves and some strong runners both in the backline and from the back of the scrum.  Their defence too was well marshalled, but it is probable that they will not be over happy either.


Meantime, we must hail, our close friends from Ballynahinch RFC.  They, seeing the human calamity that is Ukraine, the players, parents, friends, alicadoos and officers all combined and on Friday sent out two essentials-packed, Lorries to Ukraine. If some energetic and motivated Marys’ members, were to initiate such a response, whether involving vital goods or funds, there is no doubt but that we would respond enthusiastically from every direction. Would you do it?????

The Scores

Both teams started tentatively, the home team with the ball.  After a kick ahead, earning a touch close to the visitors line on six minutes, Armagh, moved the ball in double drives across the front of the goal line until the ball was recycled to the backs and centre Colvin slalomed through a couple of tacklers to score close in, and outhalf, Boyd converted.

A near mirror image try was scored by Marys on 13 minutes with good build up work by Skipper Richie (welcome back), Liam Corcoran and David Aspil, then Conor Dean received the ball, dummied and went through two tacklers to score at the far end. And so it was 7-5

The rest of the first half was mundane with Marys trying to find rhythm and blues and Armagh trying to find rhythm and clues. So, a pretty staccato half all round.

The second half showed little change, but the home side did look a little sharper. On 54 minutes an attacking scrum gave Armagh ball, and again got it to midfield close in, for converted try. 14-5

On 62 minutes, the best move of the game led to another Armagh try, they broke from near their own 22 line and recycled quickly near the halfway line, before swinging it wide.  They ran through the visitors, and their backrow O’Neill was up fast in support to take the ball and flash over, 21-5.

Marys came looking then, and worked hard to get into position; on 75 minutes having hammered on the Armagh line, Colm Reilly switched attack point, Deano’s polished hands gave Hugo Conway the ball, and to all Marys’ delight he took his chance and was over.  Welcome back Hugo.  Hugo had a serious ankle injury about five months ago, and it is a real bonus to have him back. It was then 21-10 and that was it.

Okay President Patrick, you can come out and stop shaking now.

Come on, give Richie a Halpin hand.

D O’Brien

Team (12 changes)

15 D Fanagan, 14 M Timmons, 13 M Carey, 12 M O’Gara, 11 R O’Loughlin, 10 C Dean, 9 C Reilly, 8 R Watters, 7 C Corcoran, 6 D Aspil, 5 L Corcoran, 4 P Starrett, 3 M McCormack, 2  R Halpin Capt., 1 D Lyons, S O’Brien,  P Dundon, I Wickham, L Curran  A McEvoy, J Nolan.