St Mary’s College RFC V Terenure College RFC
Ulster Bank, AIL Division 1A
Saturday 4th March 2017.
A Marys V Nure derby is really more like the Grand National than the Derby, with unpredictability, crowd clamour, bravery, thrills and spills.
The build-up was as ever, tentative, yet exciting; static crackled the air and smiles were wan, rain drizzled and steam rose into grey skies. Amid the human noise there was a hush, a shiver a fearful hope.
Inside the jammed clubhouse, artistically decorated and presented by Administrator, Marie Hammond, President Kevin Conboy, welcomed in his true warm way, his Terenure counterpart and entourage, the much admired Rala O’Reilly, who spoke with humour and genuine friendship, to set the scene. Then Marys’ rugby hero, Malcolm O’Kelly gave a post prandial speech full of enjoyably eccentric humour, as he sketched the rugby history of his alma mater, Templeogue College, and its inextricable links with and contribution to St Marys College RFC. He presented a memento to greatly respected, popular, Templeogue principal, Aoife O’Donnell.
The clubhouse was crammed with diners, amongst them many former great players, like Sean Lynch and JB Sweeney, and Tommy Bermingham and Eddie Coleman, from both clubs all with old memories of games more valued than their existences and with bragging rights more unremitting than those of the civil war, yet with deep, genuine inter club friendships.
This was a fine game of rugby, with excitement and variation. When playing downhill in the first half with a harsh wind, Marys might have used the advantage more, to put the ball into Carvill Corner, however they showed their intent with hard attacks and a quick passing game. The return of Marcus O’Driscoll to 12 and his leadership, helped greatly here, and that, linked to the pace and intent of fullback Terry Kennedy, and the enviable footballing skills and sheer bravery of outhalf David Fanagan, the backline purred.
The Nure backline too, looked potent and flexible and credit to both sides, the commitment and defensive organisation kept the score line low.
In the pack, Marys had the edge with a significant dominance in the scrum and maul. After an early shaky lineout performance, this stabilised, the influence of the impressive Ian Nagle felt there, and throughout the tight-game. It was not until the second half that possession, open play and turnovers won, moved in favour of the home side. It was then too, that some exhilarating attack play, with deft offloads and slick handling exhibited itself. With a little more end-game patience, a fourth try might have been achieved. There were too, two defensive lapses that allowed, highly celeritous Nure men glide through for two fine scores.
Performances of highest quality were to be admired throughout the Marys team. The pack all together was superb, the front row dominant in the tight, mighty in the loose. The second row did the grimy work; hard graft, packing down, ensuring the shove, arranging the mauls and muscles. The back row was a major part of this win. The value of David O’Connor cannot be overestimated, it is supreme. His honesty and ability are vital to the success and, working with Hugh Kellegher today, they were both invaluable. Hugh has built his game to very estimable levels. And when Kevin Sheahan is there the backrow, and indeed the entire team, works better. He is wise and talented, a top class player and leader and he showed it again today.
Any team with captain, Brian McGovern will always be very hard to beat and he was again the consummate player and captain.
It is almost invidious to single out players in a team performance such as this, however, no one could begrudge Terry Kennedy his SoftCo MoM award, his fervour, his pace, his ability and his contribution, gave him that added sliver of silver that demanded it.
Everyone involved with the team can feel good about this win and the work of Jamie Cornett and Peter Burke was clear to be seen. And the glowing faces of president, Kevin Conboy, VP David Fanagan, DoR Alan Shirley, team manager Paudge McGill and his assistants, Garry Manning, Peter O’Kelly and Ian Bloomer, were tonic.
As mentioned, Marys played down the first half to the bewailment of Spike and the gang. There was a fair crowd, swelled by the disgorgement of near 300 diners on to the terrace at kick off.
It was 14 minutes, when a turnover ball was whizzed out, left to right, via David Fanagan and Marcus O’Driscoll; the rapidly developing Darren Moroney timed his pass to perfection and Terry Kennedy seeing the space between centres and wing, straightened, and streaked between them, then arced right, with both turbos on, he went by the cover and over in Carvill Corner. From the edge, David hit it high and straight and the ball sailed over for the conversion. 7 – 0.showing the tightness it was not until 39 minutes when a penalty was driven into Carvill Corner, Ian Nagle took the lineout, steadied, collected his flock around him and guided a swaying, careering mass towards the line, soon the backs were joining in, and now as a bee swarm, the line was crossed to make it 12 -0. There were 42 minutes gone, when a penalty gave Terenure the chance to cut it back to 12 – 3, at half time.
The second half was played at a faster more concentrated pace, the chase too was faster and, against the wind the ball was protected more. With growing forward power, the Marys backs were getting better ball and support play was excellent, leading to interchanges and unstoppable offloads. On 53 minutes, a driving attack up the centre and towards the cabbage patch end, saw three quick rucks and drives, and then across the field left to right the ball spun. Loops, directs, offloads, passes and flicks saw the ball pass through eight pairs of hands, or at least five, as Terry’s hands saw the ball three times, then it went to David Fanagan on the touchline, he skimmed along it and sailed over in the corner. 17 – 3 and looking good, with that third try. Ten minutes later, a lapse of concentration saw Stephen O’Neill fairly zip along the touchline for 35 metres to score a try, and make the score 17 – 8. A penalty by David, made the score, 20 – 8. Marys pressed for the remainder of the game but then into injury time, Nure’s Conor Weakliam picked up the ball and ran 50 metres along the left touchline at pace to leave tacklers flat, score in the gate corner and make the final score 20 – 13. It meant Terenure got a losing bonus point.
The table is still crowded, with seven points separating St Marys, fifth, and Belvo and Nure ninth and tenth. We have UCD visiting next Saturday and this game against the university is far from academic, so we are all needed in similar numbers to today. This is the time when support is most needed, so please support your team.
Team (including rolling replacements) 15 T Kennedy, 14 I O’Neill, 13 D Moroney, 12 , M O’Driscoll, 11 C Hogan, 10 D Fanagan, 9 P O’Driscoll; 8 K Sheahan, 7 H Kellegher, 6 D O’Connor, 5 I Nagle, 4 C Ruddock, 3 B McGovern (Capt), 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, H Kean, C Ryan, C O’Flaherty, N McCarthy, J Dilger.