St Mary’s College RFC V Buccaneers RFC
AIL Division 1B
Saturday 20th February 2016.
Rugged, and sometimes ragged, was this tumultuous game of rugby. It was full of player passion and follower fear; and proved yet again, that confidence and concentration will out in the end. Sometimes like today, the very end. The home supporters would have liked to have been let in on it, as they fretted and feared. The lugubrious faces of the visitors as the trudged out, told the tale of shattered hopes. However scoring three tries to one entitled the home gang to some justification for their belief in a deserved win.
On a rain spattered and wind fleeced afternoon, it was a high risk afternoon for rapid rugby. This showed, with frequent lost balls, slips and over kicks. But there was no lack of thrust or enthusiasm, nor indeed high quality moves on occasions. We were fortunate to have the invaluable Kevin Sheahan back from injury, however, our captain, Chops, is still out. These were two sets of gladiators competing with fairness and ferocity. The scrum dominance swayed, the backs’ battle looked well in favour of Marys but lineout accuracy again eluded us, while Buccs did not seem to have the same difficulty. The loss today of David O’Connor our prime lineout source and Barry O’Flanagan a useful adjunct jumper, had much to do with it and it meant that Ciaran Ruddock, probably our best forward on a day of brave attrition by all the pack, had to carry additional lineout work. It was a dynamic duel for loose ball and ended fairly evenly, Mark Fallon was in the middle of the muddles all game and carried hard.
When we got high velocity on the game we looked in command and our backs again showed excellent understanding and ability. It is almost unfair to pick individual players, as all played their part with alacrity. Our midfield defence, Ivan and Marcus, now stands out (they are also running superb vectors) and our wide men’s hunger and tenacity grows each week. Ryan O’Loughlin had an admirable game, with a notable first half, including a signal part in the first try, Stevie grows impressively into the full back role weekly and of course Darragh, as captain and player, is the corner stone around which our team is now built, and he again showed why.
However, when a game is analysed it is often how the half backs dictate the game that measures the success or failure; and our Nine and Ten were buzzing today. Sean Kearn’s kicking was reassuring, his conversion of the first try was almost paranormal, his distribution was good and when all looked lost he calmly and boldly went where few men had gone before, with a stunning break and try to win the game. Why wouldn’t he be MoM; and he was.
A key feature of the Marys game was the defence. It has been strong all season, but it seemed today to be totally resolute and controlled and one of the main reasons we stay on top of the league table.
Yes, we remain top by four points now, from TCD who had a clear bonus point win over Ballymena and so, with four games to go, much will hang on the outcome of our game with them. Of course if either slip up in any of the three other remaining games it could be playoff time. Obviously, Jamie Cornett and his team realise that and will be prepared. It is clear that Peter Smyth had handed over a burgeoning squad; but also clear is, that Jamie, with his colleagues, was perfectly place to continue and expand that progress. Next weekend we entertain (well not too much I hope) Blackrock.
It was a marvellous win for us, and had the club bounding for the great Jonno Sexton night.
After 20 minutes of fairly consistent pressure on the Buccs line an effort by the Connacht team to clear their lines was held out of touch by a well taken catch from Ryan, who ran in, jinked out, straightened and went Mk2 for the line, he squeezed through a slit in defence and timed a ball to Marcus who needed no goad, he flew through the last yards and scored in Carvill Corner. Then mathematical magician Sean, conjured an almost impossibly angled kick to slide it through the posts to make it 7 – 0.
On 23 minutes Conor Mc Keon (a former Marys’ Mini Rugby player) added three points for Buccs. And that was how the half ended 7 – 3, it was a worry.
The second half saw 53 minutes arrive, when Buccs added three more points. On 60 minutes Marys got a penalty for not releasing and kicked to the corner, and set a maul. The maul moved it stalled, it crabbed, it swung, it swayed, and then it grew like a giant swarm of bees as the backs joined, one by one, Big Darragh, Modser, Ivan, David and so on and so on. Then, with inexorable momentum it moved relentlessly onward and linewards; it flopped down, Richie Sweeney vicelike with the ball, under it all. It was a try and brought the score to 14 – 6.
Only minute had passed until Buccs made a fine break from mid field, and they then slid a grubber through, which right winger, Rory O’Connor, picked and darted over. A conversion made it 14 – 13 and after a missed penalty McKeon got another on78 minutes, all looked lost; it was 14 – 16. We came back with grinding grit and worked our way up field. Buccs held firm. Then on 82.3568 minutes a ball came back to Sean, 30 metres out, expectedly he swept the ball on. No! He did not, he spied a chink and he zipped through it, arced around two and straightened, went zip and put on the turbo. Eruption on the terrace; exhaustion on the field elation in the heads. The end. Well after one more play it was, with the final score 19 – 16. Mirabile dictu.
The Squad (Rolling substitutions)
15 S Toal-Lennon, 14 R O’Loughlin, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 I Dineen, 11 D Fanning (Capt.), 10 S Kearns, 9 D Fanagan, 8 M Fallon, 7 I Cullinane, 6 K Sheahan, 5 D Aspil, 4 C Ruddock 3 B McGovern, 2 H Kean, 1T O’Reilly, , E Ferron, M Elliot-Murray, , R Glynn, C Toolan, T Kennedy.