St Mary’s College RFC V Cork Constitution RFC
AIL Division 1A
Saturday 17th September 2016.
It may not have been the return of the Jedi, but it was a significant day in the history of St Mary’s College RFC, again taking their place in the top tier of Irish Club Rugby. It is good to report that, while not winning the game, the team performed admirably and were competitively in an entertaining, good quality match. A losing bonus point, at least, was welcome.
It was a mild sunny afternoon, perfect for players and spectators. The players did not disappoint, as both teams served up excitement and skill. Early on it looked as though the change of pace to 1A might cause Marys problems but the team settled and indeed by full time were pushing hard and might well have prevailed. The coaches and captain, although disappointed not to have won, will be pleased with the performance and confident for the season ahead. The lineouts did misfire on occasion and will require remedial action. There were many good individual performances. In the forwards, Cathal O’Flaherty’s AIL debut for Marys was impressive and Darragh Keller did well on replacing stalwart Number Eight, Kevin Sheahan, injured early in the first half. Behind the scrum, Paddy O’Driscoll’s service was sharp and his kicking excellent. Ryan O’Loughlin kept strong pressure on the Con defence. It was good to welcome promising young Mark Fogarty (son of Patsy), while Terry Kennedy (son of Terry) showed that his time in the U20 Irish squad has helped his development. He showed his confidence and hunger and his frequent running from deep, was a real problem for Con. His positional sense was also sound; and for me he was MoM. Con have a big strong team, they are inclined to play in bursts and when they do they are almost irresistible. They have a solid set piece system, play a quick rucking game and defend well.
Both teams concentrated their outfield attack through the middle, to good effect. Con started as a hurricane, sweeping up the field and running hard with sharp vectors. They set to on the Marys’ line Hard defence kept them out for a time but the intensity paid and when they swept it out after several drives, they crossed through Rob Jermyn, in the Carpark Corner to make it 0 – 5 , after five minutes. The game flowed and both sides ran the ball well, with good backup. On 33 minutes a good movement from Con with a midfield burst, ending up with the ball going wide to Liam O’Connell, to give them a converted try. On 41 minutes Marys’ Sean Kearns, converted a penalty after two narrowly missed efforts. The half time score was 3 – 12.
The second half started ominously for the home side as the visitors exploded into action and within a minute, had pressed down field and their Number 12, Niall Kenneally, flashed through the middle and over for a try close in. The conversion was missed when determined Terry Kennedy flew out to block the kick, but they led 3 – 17. Sean Kearns made it 6 – 17 on 50 minutes. Sean Kearns, who was becoming most influential, made the score 6 – 17 at the 70 minute. This started a really fine comeback for Marys and after a period of intense pressure on the Con line, Super Sean did his party piece, taking the ball flat after a scrum close to the Con line. He stalled and went, dummied, shuffled his feet and slipped thorough two defenders and under the posts; no mistake with conversion and it was 13 – 17. In only two minutes he had added a further penalty and one point divided; 16 – 17. The frisson ran through the home fans and dreams flowed. Rattle, rattle harder, and harder we pressed and breaths were held. However, Con settled, launched an offensive of pace and control and nigh on scored. They did get a penalty under our posts and on 84 minutes ensured success with its conversion. It ended 16 – 20. Four points deserved for Con and a valiant losing bonus point for St Marys.
Today’s game showed that we are well able to compete in 1A and beat the established teams, however, our season may well be defined by how we compete against the lesser fancied sides, when we must succeed. There is every good reason to feel confident, especially when one examines the marvellous recruitment success of the summer, divined by Jamie Cornett and his colleagues, giving a depth in the squad necessary for the long trek to April. It should be recalled also that, today some top class players were out injured, including Marcus O’Driscoll, David O’Connor, David Fanagan, Mark Fallon, Conor Toolan, Conor Hogan and Paddy Lavelle.
Recall you must, last season when you played a crucial role in getting the team there; now you must repeat that performance and turn up and support Brian (McGov), Jamie, Peter et al. And that means turning up when it shines, when it freezes and when it storms, when time is short or granny is demanding a trip to Ibiza or the kids to Santa. Don’t forget the away trips too, Joyce will of course be organising these and she will keep you on your toes there.
We are all behind our much admired and popular president, Kevin Conboy and we all wish him and super new Director of Rugby, Alan Shirley, everything good for the season.
Exciting times ahead.
Team (including rolling replacements)
15 J Mc Donnell, 14 T Kennedy, 13 R O’Loughlin, 12 I Dineen, 11 M Fogarty, 10 S Kearns, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 K Sheahan, 7 D Aspil, 6 N Mc Carthy, 5 C O’Flaherty, 4 C Ruddock, 3 B McGovern (Capt), 2 H Kean, 1 T O’Reilly, R Halpin, E Ferron, D Keller, I Cullinane, M Joyce.