St Mary’s College RFC V UL Bohemians RFC
AIL Division 1B
Saturday 30th January 2016.
The truncated nature of the AIL league makes it difficult for coaches and players in all the clubs. It is hard to keep up match fitness, concentration and intensity. It is a credit to both teams that they played with high skill levels and commitment all game and although St Marys looked the more likely to prevail, the outcome was not certain until almost the end of the game.
Team captain, Rob Sweeney was unfortunately again missing, but hopes to return for next week’s vital game V Ballymena. Missing too were highly influential backrower Kevin Sheahan and second row David O’Connor. It is hoped to have David back next week, but unfortunately Kevin, who has a damaged ankle, may not return until the following week. It was good to welcome back David Fanagan from a hamstring injury. He showed no ill effects from the layoff and had a very good game.
This was an efficient if not spectacular performance when every player showed commitment. The defence was adamantine and a feature of the game.
ULBohs also played well throughout. Darragh Frawley, who had been with us for the past few seasons, had a fine game and was probably their best forward.
The St Marys’ scrum was solid and credit must go to David Aspil in the second row, he is normally a backrow player. However, the lineout had problems that curtailed attack on a number of occasions. The pack worked hard, was sharp in the loose and the maul was a potent weapon. The backline continued their good run of form and overall Jamie, Peter and Mal will be happy with the outcome. It was interesting to note that the non-Irish referee Max Burlett (BRU), who had a good game, penalised players for going off their feet. It appeared that, for some time now, referees seemed to ignore this and indeed so called clearing out of rucks, with players violently charging opposition players, who might be three and more metres from the ruck.
In the pack, the backrow was again outstanding, with all three players, Richard, Barry and Mark in contention, however, for his anticipation, spatial awareness, attacking acuity and his scoring a try and having key involvement in another, vital try, Mark Fallon edged it; and was my MoM.
The backline got limited opportunities, but looked sharp and motivated and when opportunity presented, as on 30 minutes and 46 minutes, two very fine tries were delivered. There is good feel and nice balance now in this team and our position is positive. After the game, the glows on president Declan’s, team manager Paudge’s, and Director of Rugby Kevin’s faces told a story of joy.
The early part of the game was dominated by UL, who, playing with a strong wind, kept Marys pinned in their own half at the Road End. It was 30 minutes when Rick Mc Kenna put them 0- 3 in front with a penalty. On 38 minutes, when a promising attack was thwarted by a deliberate knock on and a penalty awarded, quick thinking David Fanagan tapped and went, the ball then went wide quickly and it saw Ryan O’Loughlin beat the cover out wide to skim over in the car park corner; 5 – 3, but in injury time UL’s Seven, Condell, touched down from a maul in Carvill corner. Mc Kenna converted. Half Time 5 – 10.
Second half with the strong wind now behind Marys and playing towards the Road End, dominance was more established and after six minutes, a fine kick from Sean, to Carvill corner was fielded by a UL defender, however, he tried to chip the follow up line and perfectly placed Mark Fallon fielded and went inwards to make space then passed out (well not exactly) on through Conor Toolan (thankfully back from injury) and on to Stevie Wonder Toal-Lennon, who slalomed through the remaining defenders and went on in under the posts. Sean Kearns converted. 12 – 10.
It was 55 minutes when a series of penalties taken as scrums, led to a well-controlled push over try, by Mark Fallon. Sean converted. 19 – 10. On 57 minutes Mc Kenna made it 19 – 13. And when we had a penalty near the gate corner. There was temptation to go for the corner for a fourth try but, it was wisely decided to take a shot, which Sean did with his usual aplomb, and it made it a bit safer 22 – 13. That was how it stayed. Final score 22- 13.
We remain on top, with 50 points, now five ahead of Ballymena and six ahead of TCD, with dark horses Buccaneers, and Old Wesley back on 32 points. We face a tough series of matches now, commencing with closest rivals Ballymena next Saturday, although happily we have an unexpected cushion, it is vital that we win this game and push on. As usual, the skipper’s mother Joyce is organising a bus for next Saturday and as many as possibly can, must go and really let it rip Rynner-wise at Derrymore, by the banks of the Braid River. A group of 16, mature members are venturing up the night before, so as not to get lost or bewildered, and possibly to have the vocal chords lubricated.
The Squad (Rolling substitutions)
15 S Toal-Lennon, 14 C Toolan, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 R O’Loughlin, 11 D Fanning, 10 S Kearns, 9 D Fanagan, 8 M Fallon, 7 B O’Flanagan, 6 R Sweeney, 5 D Aspil, 4 C Ruddock 3 B McGovern(Capt.), 2 H Kean, 1T O’Reilly, , E Ferron, M Elliot-Murray, P Starrett, I Dineen, I Cullinane, B Hoey.