St Mary’s College RFC V Lansdowne FC
Leinster Senior Cup
Saturday 8th January 2017.
There were still lingering memories of plum puddings, rice puddings and Christmas puddings, but it was now time to bring on the crackers. So Brian McGovern led his men out onto the field at 2.30 PM to face a young, strong looking Lansdowne team in the resurrected Leinster Senior Cup (LSC separated from the LSLC). It brought back memories of the great jousts of long ago with Lansdowne in the LSC. The weather was friendly and a fair number of supporters arrived to enjoy the game. The home group did not enjoy the result.
It turned out to be a lively enjoyable game to watch, closely contested at good pace. The difference between the sides was discipline, the home side conceding over 20 penalties and three yellow cards, two partially coinciding and allowing a pivotal try when the game was subtlety poised. Both sides had a number of errors, as to be expected after the long layoff, but the skill levels were high, consistent with the quality of the players. It will have been a good build up game for the AIL return on 28th January. DoR, Alan Shirley, is working with Jamie trying to arrange a rugged friendly in the meanwhile.
To see Cathal Marsh back at outhalf, running the game at pace was exciting and he had a highly talented, all dancing all swinging backline outside him. They were faced with an equivalent group and this led to real entertainment. There was of course evidence of the layoff, when some of the many stimulating breaks made by our backs lacked support or players failed to find or use the support. But there was a lot to admire and all contributed well, with David Fanagan particularly effective in running from broken play, he also scored a good try.
The Marys’ pack too, was a high quality one, with McGov leading with controlled power and there were some top rate performances, in fact the entire eight +replacements, did well against the league leaders. Young tyros, such as Caelan Doris showed their class. One player who seems to hum along from zero to 80 is David O’Connor. Some of his contributions are often not seen when grinding away in close, but, today playing blind side, he was evident as he covered, carried, tackled and worked incessantly. He was my MoM.
Marys playing down towards the Road end, kept Lansdowne in their own half for almost all of the first quarter, but try as they did they could not breach an organised and clam-like Lansdowne defence, then when the visitors made it up field, a penalty for not releasing the tackled man, gave Lansdowne the lead on 17 minutes. Three minutes later Cathal Marsh levelled the score with a penalty. It was 32 minutes when Marys mounted a dynamic attack, with powerful picks and drives, then the ball was run left to right, right to left several times before a fast switched ball ran out to David Fanagan of the sparkling feet, and he shimmied and glided over in the gate corner, Marshy impressively converted and it was 10 – 3. On 40 minutes Marys were unfortunate to lose a man to the sin bin as the half ended 10 – 3.
The second half was only two minutes old when we lost another man to the sin bin and within another couple of minutes the score was 10 – 10, our not having the man power to stop the visitors from crossing. Credit, Marys held firm for the remainder of the sinbinning and added a penalty on 52 minutes. However, Lansdowne crafted a really admirable try in Carvill Corner on 63 minutes, from a flash break and fast inter-passing; the score was now 13 – 15. It was hammer and thongs stuff then, as close as could be, but on 74 minutes Lansdowne, growing in confidence, broke the balance and made it 13 – 20. Still hope surged and the home side put some good moves together. On 81 minutes, alas, calamity struck when an over ambitious pass was scooped up by Lansdowne’s left winger, who scooted in for a converted try. It ended 13 – 27.
Three weeks’ time, on 28th January we have Old Belvedere visiting us at Templeville Road, for the return of AIL. We will remember how we might have won at Anglesea Road in our last match. This time we must improve our defence, awareness and discipline, if we do, there is every reason to believe that we shall prevail. Senior management has now assembled an admirable playing group and if we have a full squad to select from, McGov can lead his men with strong confidence. The other factor is support. The skipper and management/coaches have intimated to you how critically important you are to their team’s fortunes.
Therefore, if you care for your team and your club you will make sure to get there and support them. They all ask, please, to hear Marys-Marys-Marys roaring out from the terraces with voracious desire and ear jamming intensity, all game. They also send their best wishes for 2017; I add my wishes if I may.
Team (including rolling replacements) 15 D Fanagan, 14 T Kennedy, 13 J Larmour, 12 R O’Loughlin, 11 C Hogan, 10 C Marsh, 9 P O’Driscoll; 8 C Doris, 7 D Aspil, 6 D O’Connor, 5 C O’Flaherty, 4 C Ruddock, 3 B McGovern (Capt), 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, C Ryan, E Ferron, P Starrett, M Timmons, J Dilger, I O’Neill, D Bowe.