St Marys College RFC V UCD RFC
Saturday 11h March 2017.
AIL Division 1A
It is difficult to relate the feeling of the St Marys’ team and supporters after this game. Although UCD played well and have some fine players, Marys controlled the game for long periods, playing with good pace and accuracy, and probably deserved to win. In fact it was only two unfortunate bounces in very quick succession that gave UCD the opportunity to win this very important match. Losing David Fanagan, his having been injured early on, was a major blow to the home team and having no established kicker was a critical problem. A sub plot was the presence on the pitch in the second half at the same time of brothers Conor, (Marys), and Matthew, (UCD), Gilsenan, both at 10, both sons of former president and chairman, John and grandsons of former captain, president and trustee, Matt. Both did very well, Matthew scoring 12 of his side’s points.
The Marys team need not be dispirited as a strong base has now been built by esteemed Jamie Cornett and Peter Burke, with the help of Hayden Triggs, the management and the DoR. The pack is now highly competitive and the backs are being finely moulded as more players return. The hard work of the players must be recognised and it is time now to increase our fervent support for all involved, as the next couple of games will define our fate.
It was expected that the UCD scrum, with acclaimed Andrew Porter at tighthead, would hold sway, however, except for the very first scrum of the game, Marys were in total dominance and Tommer O’Reilly at loosehead was in control and not only did he give an impressive scrummaging performance but had the energy and skills to carry and defend solidly all game and he scored a try after a well-controlled maul. He was therefore a deserving recipient of the SoftCo MoM award.
In addition to the scrum, with just a few errant ones in the second half, the Marys lineout too was strong and the pack had the edge, with, Richie Halpin, David O’Connor and Ciaran Ruddock particularly prominent. However, we ceded a number of turnovers at the breakdown, with the UCD backrowers the recipients. Behind the scrum, UCD looked sharp and swift, especially from broken play and they were willing to run from anywhere, as is the wont of student teams. Marys too have been developing a tidy backline and with Marcus O’Driscoll now settling back his influence is dynamically stabilising. Conor Hogan is coming back to his previous form and he scored an admirable try, with precision, taking a wonderful vector. However, Darren Moroney deserves particular mention as he has made geometric progression and is without doubt the season’s most improved player. He is fast, strong and fearless and his spatial awareness and player interaction have developed notably.
All that said, St Marys lost a key game that by any yardstick they should have won and one of the lessons to be learned is, that even slight lapses of concentration or decisiveness can have large effects. For long periods of the game, particularly in the first half the home team, played their high paced game, retaining possession and supporting players. The defence too was strong in conventional mode, it was when fortuitous bounces went against us in attack or neutral mode that, understandably, we had not the cover to cope.
A slight mix up on receipt of the kick-off gave a knock on scrum to TCD, a malformed scrum yielded a penalty for UCD and Matthew Gilsenan kicked the long straight penalty. 0 – 3. That focused minds, Marys put the game pace up to FF and after incessant attack, on five minutes, it paid off the ball was sent high over to Ian O’Neill standing wide, he did not panic, picked, handed off and shot over the line, 5 – 3. Another penalty by UCD on 13 minutes and it was 5 – 6. Although Marys dominated in all aspects, UCD 8, Timmons, scored a good try on the half hour, and near the end of the half, David Fanagan, in spite of an injured leg kicked a penalty, 8 – 13 at the break.
The second half saw Marys increase further the game intensity, led from the front by intrepid skipper, Brian McGovern and were rewarded on 54 minutes, by a penalty, a line out, a maul and a deserved try by Tommer. 13 – 13. It was then that things started going awry, with the score going to 13 – 18, 13 – 25 and then 13 – 32, before Conor Hogan scored his very fine try under the posts, on 73 minutes, 18 – 32. Further attacking play by Marys, in search of a four try bonus point, was repulsed by strong UCD defence and it ended 18 – 32.
It is now rightly important, that a concentrated target is made of our next game against Dublin University on 25th March at College Park. When we played TCD in the autumn, they looked an elegant side and will be obdurately competitive. They beat YM today and are coming back to their best. That said, the way McGov’s men are playing now and with the expectation of having Cathal O’Flaherty and Terry Kennedy back and hope of having Cathal Marsh available, we can look forward with every confidence and hope. We can look to give the ball width, having made space and with vital support players in attention. Then for the remaining games we would expect, additionally, to have Jordan Larmour and Caelan Doris, who were both breath-taking during the U20s 6 Nations, back. We travel with strong belief. You must travel too, get your blue and white ganseys out, dig out your old rattles and gargle well. Your team really does need you; and since you value your club you will appreciate the need.
Club rugby is different than provincial or international rugby. It is part of the soul and psyche of the members and the community. It draws people together, it is also a social, almost a family circle where members help each other, share each-other’s lives, their hopes and fears, their health and their problems. It brings odd frictions, odd romances (some very odd), some fears and lots of laughs. One thing everyone shares, rugby. The members of all ages blend smoothly; and friendships last over time. That is why, we all badly need to survive and all appreciate the hard work of our coaches, administrators and our players, as they strive tirelessly and freely for all of us. We have outstanding members and volunteers still involved over seventy years, such as Tom Browne and outstanding young volunteers, new to volunteering, but with great enthusiasm and endeavour, such as Aaron Hudson. We are together, one.
And we are still in the danger zone, 7th with 31 points. TCD are 6th with 34, 8th placed Garryowen have 29 points. Terenure have 28 and Belvo have 25 points. So a tight situation, however, were we to get a win V TCD it would almost guarantee our survival. Our astute senior coach, Jamie, has always indicated 35 points as the survival mark.
That’s the story, Bud!
Team (including rolling replacements) 15 C Hogan, 14 I O’Neill, 13 D Moroney, 12 M O’Driscoll, 11 R O’Loughlin, 10 D Fanagan, 9 P O’Driscoll; 8 K Sheahan, 7 H Kellegher, 6 J Dilger, 5 D O’Connor, 4 C Ruddock, 3 B McGovern (Capt), 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, H Kean, C Ryan, D Keller, N McCarthy, C Gilsenan.