St Mary’s College RFC V Old Wesley RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 28th November 2015.
After a week during which we learned of our superb senior coach, Peter Smyth’s selection for the prestigious post of Director of the Leinster Academy, the team responded to his imminent departure with a brave committed win, specially in respect and gratitude to him. Although an extreme loss, everyone is very happy for Peter. This was a most important win that keeps us just ahead of Ballymena by one point, and three ahead of TCD, in a fervid fight for top honours. It was 19 years since we last played OW in AIL and fortunately we kept up our good record against them. There were tired bodies but joy in the dressing room afterwards and president Declan Fanning radiated happiness and pride in his men.
The pitch stood up well to a rain battering and St Marys played up against a strong westerly wind in the first half, this contributed quite considerably to the final outcome. The first half, Marys defended magnificently with every man throwing himself into the fray and always looking for the break out, as Old Wesley with a well balanced team probed. Our scrum was ascendant in the first half although later lost their superiority and fell foul of a several decisions. With the strong wind, the lineouts were difficult but both teams managed the throws well. It was in the loose that Marys thrived and with the backs looking sharper than for some time, Smythy will feel comfortable in leaving his worthy lieutenants in charge, when he sadly parts mid January.
Near the end of the first half Marys, then 0 – 9 down to three penalties, got a penalty in front of the posts on the Cabbage Patch end. Every rugby know it all, including a certain group of know it all old codgers on the far terrace, thought, oh great, go in 3- 9 down-with a strong following wind in the second half to come. Surprise, Captain Chops said, we take a scrum, oh no! heads in hands of old codgers. Scrum is formed it is rock solid, Robbie Glynn glances, sees low cover mode to his left also fantastic Fange, who is on top form and causing OW nightmares. Robbie steps draws fire, whing, out zips the ball to Fange, who feints and goes, steps the one defender like the master he is, and scores under the posts; brilliant, well done Chops, well done Robbie and best done of all, Fange; Shame on you old codgers. So, even better news, 7 – 9 at half time.
During half time, there was an U10 mini rugby game between Marys and Old Wesley, organised by Jim Coffey, SoftCo and very young Old Wesley won by four scores to one. Luckily, this did not reflect on the main game.
The second half Marys used the wind and mainly played in the OW half, with some fine balls into Carvill Corner, from Sean and Robbie and pretty well continual pressure. Credit great to Wesley who defended with spirit and power and although we almost got there we could not breach their defence. However, we did add four very well delivered successful penalty kicks, by super Sean, the last one to end the game with19 – 9 and deny OW a losing bonus point.
This was a team performance, full of Derring-do if ever, with every man who stood on the field fired and wired for torrid action. The captain Robert Sweeney was gargantuan as he ploughed through tacklers; he was inspirational and led from the front.
On the day, each one might have been man of the match, but for me, David (DOC) O’Connor, was magnificent. He soared, he drove, he broke hard and often, he supported, and he crushed runners. He seemed never to cease working; he was my MoM. All of the pack was in support, with Kevin Sheahan, who has probably been the most consistently top quality this season, outstanding.
Likewise, the backs set a new high with, understanding and interaction, Sean Kearns continued his high quality performances, with a super kicking and passing game and Ivan Dineen showed his class and commitment, with a superlative performance, of sharp attack and deadly defence, hungry and concentrated. They were surrounded by eager equality, all together making up the Magnificent Seven. Unfortunately, David Fanagan, who was having a bright and exciting game, had to retire early on, with a hamstring injury; this added to the bad news that, his replacement, Robbie Glynn is departing for London after Christmas, joining Ray Crotty, who goes to USA, in the exodus.
The replacements also added value in a big way, introducing Hugh Kellegher, who looked determined and strong. Emmet Ferron also came on and fitted in well in the scrum and was busy. Former captain and star, Richie Sweeney gave as ever, committed strong and intelligent. Barry O’Flanagan tore on like a rampant rocket, ferreting ball and skittling runners everywhere.
12 0 – 3, 16 0- 6, 27 mins Pens (B McLaughlin), 37 min 7 – 9, (Try D Fanning, Con, S Kearns), 47 10 – 9, 51 13 – 9, 65 16 – 9 and 82 mins Pens S Kearns, 19 – 9.
Yes, this was one to be proud of, however, we must be careful. We go to Belfast Harlequins next week and although they are bottom of the league, they have a good tough team. We must be ready with our strongest game. You will remember the last time we played Belfast Harlequins, in Belfast over a decade ago; they defeated us thanks to a sharp young scrumhalf, Paul Marshall, making his debut.
The Squad (Rolling substitutions)
15 R Crotty, 14 R O’Loughlin, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 I Dineen,11 D Fanning, 10 S Kearns, 9 D Fanagan, 8 M Fallon, 7 D Aspil,, 6 K Sheahan 5 D O’Connor, 4 C Ruddock 3 Rob Sweeney (Capt.), 2 H Kean, 1 B McGovern, H Kellegher, E Ferron, Richie Sweeney, B O’Flanagan. R Glynn