Young Munster RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1A
Tom Clifford Park
Saturday 18th February 2017.
As with our last visit to Young Munster RFC in March 2015 we left Tom Clifford Park with an empty feeling in our hearts. The last time we had a righteous sense of grievance, this time, just heart break, for we came within a pulse of a memorable victory, only to see it snatched away seven minutes into injury time. A better result was deserved, especially for the players and for the faithful group of supporters that Joyce and Eileen mustered for the bus trip.
This was a real step forward, although we got only a losing bonus point, Mc Gov’s team showed the ability to forage with the heavies and to adjust to the needs of the fray. The first half, Marys, playing with a slight breeze on a mild day, against a really big, powerful and skillful, Young Munster team, had to withstand long periods of heavy pressure and had to defend with bravery and precision. It was unfortunate that, well into first half injury time, the defence cracked after five minutes of almost hara-kiri in defence.
During the game, character glowed, and not one man with a blue jersey failed to grind his body and mind beyond infinity. This supreme effort will feed the id and build mental armour and weapons for future great needs. If there has to be a superlative, and there has, then Cathal Marsh takes that soubriquet today. He was, as though elevated from ground as he glided, guided, grafted and conducted. He owned the second half. He took the ball on occasions, so flat he was rubbing cheeks with the defence, yet he could evade or flick, skip ball or loop, walls seemed to open as he approached, and his pace was electronic. Due to all of this and the hard work done by the players and backs coach, Peter Burke, the backline has seldom been so potent and fluid. And needless to say Marshy, by acclamation, was the SoftCo MoM. As mentioned, each of the backline from 9 to 15, was at his best. Never has Darren Moroney played better, he is fearless and seems impervious to pain as he sledges into defenders sending them nigh into orbit.
In the pack too, I to 8 +, they were heroic. The scrum had to withstand gargantuan pressure on occasions but never did they cry or flinch just worked to right it. The lineout too, especially in the first half, had a difficult time. Cathal O’Flaherty who had to go off injured for a good part of the first half was like a gazelle in the loose and in the lineout, and young David (DOC) O’Connor has that steel, stamina and brain that make him invaluable. It was encouraging too, to see when talented Gus Jones and Nick McCarthy came on they added emphatically to the collective. Hugo Kean got some game time, so important to getting him back to full match fitness. The loose play, including offloads, vectors and ground ferreting, improves weekly due to Jamie Cornett and his colleagues. One particular and important flaw remains, conceding penalties. It cost dearly.
A sober mention, there are many more challenges ahead, none more so than the next game against rapidly improving Terenure College RFC, on 4th March at Templeville Road. Much has been added to the Nure team, it is reported; and we shall have to be at our best to win; and win we must. It will take that gravel in the guts and ice in the heads, game from every Marys’ man.
The size and power of the YM team was evident from the kick-off, with their pack driving through. Although it was Marys scored first, Marshy landing a good penalty after three minutes. Although attacking constantly it was not until 18 minutes had passed that YM equalised with a penalty of their own. Then, as the first half came to an end YM, attacked the line out wide and in close, taking the ball in twos and threes, forwards and backs throwing themselves at the defence. The thin blue line held, and each man threw himself at the assailants, but alas, on 44 minutes after a non-stop battering a chink was found and the half ended 10 – 3.
At half time it was clear to see the earnest assessments, the astute instructions and the intense concentration. The second half commenced. The YM captain and giant second row, Sean Duggan withdrew injured, making the lineout more accessible to the visitors, and, from having minimum possession in the first, it went to having the majority in the second. You could feel a frisson as Marshy marshalled and McGov’s men supplied; Paddy O’Driscoll linked, the machine purred. We were in it, and the high-speed game so effective for Marys clicked into place. Ryano romped around defenders, David Fanagan’s feet jigged through glimpses of gaps, Hogie ran back with guile, Ian O’Neill chased and harried, and Darren attacked with menace. Pressure was building, and on 55 minutes, Marshy made a half break and the ball got to David Fanagan, he went through a throng as he swayed and weaved, feinted and dived he was over. 10 – 8.
On 58 minutes, Darren ran back a ball, hard, made good ground then a recycled ball swung out to Ryano and he flicked through, accelerated and made it to score. 10 – 13. We hoped, but soon it was 13 – 13 with a penalty. But by then we were really flying over the ground, offloading and recycling. Soon afterwards, Ryano taking a pass from Hogie who had made 25 metres cut outside one defender, through a gap brilliantly and inside another, almost over but on the turn he slipped, aghh. Marshy was running riot now, and on 80 minutes he got a ball just inside the YM half and set off, he cleaved through a group, went off to the right, accelerated through a chink and put on the turbo, it was almost in defiance of gravity that he swayed and weaved and he just ghosted through a group of defenders and reached and scored. Once again the conversion hit the posts, yet it was astounding, Marys were leading, it was almost time. We only had injury time to see out. However, a kick up-field was taken back by YM and they ran nearly to the half way, unfortunately, three penalties in a row, with mauls after lineouts, gave YM access to our 22 where they put on extreme pressure. The intensity of the attack was absolute. They eventually dropped the ball, however, a penalty had been called and YM mounted the final attack, their impressive Munster centre, Cian Bohane, found the vital gap. He scored under the posts and when the conversion was made, we were two points behind. That was the end, sadly, 20 -18.
Team (including rolling replacements) 15 D Fanagan 14 I O’Neill, 13 D Moroney, 12 , R O’Loughlin, 11 C Hogan, 10 C Marsh, 9 P O’Driscoll; 8 J Dilger, 7H Kellegher, 6 D O’Connor, 5 C O’Flaherty, 4 C Ruddock, 3 B McGovern (Capt), 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, H Kean, E Ferron, G Jones, N McCarthy, C Gilsenan.