Shannon RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1B
Saturday 5th March 2016.
The refurbished second pitch at Thomond Park is a good one, if somewhat overshadowed, however today it was scoured by a wintry sun, showers, and a searing north east wind which kept the supporters moving as well as the players. Our supporters led by Joyce and Eileen; they can be proud of their muster, as once again the visiting supporters seemed to outnumber the home ones. Indeed, it was heartening to hear the rousing chants of our mini-rugby lads as they roared on their senior players.”
Facing the club that proudly boasts the most AIL titles always requires respect and high performance and Marys fulfilled those requirements handsomely. On the other hand, Shannon would no doubt admit that their team rebuilding has not yet reached the stages of the great days. They do play with adventure but as yet lack some key players, continuity and skills. Marys today showed a lot of flair and innovation. There was a little difficulty with the scrum at the start, however, Brian McGovern, who was terrific today, sorted it out quickly with his two redoubtable colleagues in the front row. The game, although entertaining, was somewhat staccato with periods of high intensity and then dips. However, that most important sense of confidence and determination prevailed and Marys looked a balanced potent side.
Looking to the immediate future and realising that a win in our next game V Dublin University, will win AIL Division 1B and promotion to 1A, makes it unmissable. Modern high quality rugby ensures almost unchinkable defences, especially with formal conditions and set pieces. Therefore, ingenuity is required and today our play showed we possess that. Additionally, in attacking areas, the running from broken play and quick interchange, where defence organisation is stretched and tested, gives great opportunity. The work of the super backrow and particularly Mark Fallon ensured that capability. Besides his hard close work, locking scrums and lineout tasks, he took on ball, frequently bursting through rucks and taking on close cover to make space; while also cutting down attacks gave his support an attack platform. That is why he was my MoM. He and impressive David Aspil are learning fast from playing alongside the splendid Shiner and Barry O’Flanagan.
Today, there was at times, an almost seamless interaction between forwards and backs and that is vital to success. We were freely running vectors, con brio. . Our first try was a beautiful example of space making and utilisation. The absence of Ivan Dineen, although a real loss, gave opportunity to try positional changes in the backline. One such, Ryan O’Loughlin moving from wing to 12 was a notable success. He fitted into inside centre play perfectly and made ground and space for others. Marcus O’Driscoll, who is most influential, was injured unfortunately and had to withdraw during the second half. This gave an opportunity to flying Conor Toolan to get a successful run on the wing (and a vital try), as captain, Darragh Fanning, moved into the centre.
After six minutes Shannon got a penalty for our not releasing and it was 3 – 0. It was 18 minutes and Young Terry Kennedy took off at Shannon. His winger credentials shone out. He has nuclear pace and vision and loves the ball. His try was startling. We had a line out 35 metres out and from it drove on, the ball came out and Sean Kearns and Ryan O’Loughlin made space for Terry who, from his wing, looped round at Mk1 and took the ball, flew through the cover and scorched over. Sean added two. On the half hour we had a penalty for a high tackle and we set up a maul from a driven line out. When it was stopped short of the line, dashing David Fanagan went left taking the cover, then straightened beautifully and flicked in through a rabbit run and over, with Sean’s addition it was 3 – 14. It was half time.
The second half was eight minutes old when we received a yellow card, and two minutes later Shannon got one too. Then, with 64 minutes of the game spent, Lethal Weapon was deployed after a penalty was driven to the corner by Sean. The lineout was taken by Rudds, McGov tucked in the ball and the maul swelled as backs and forwards joined to surge over, McGov dropped and we had our third try. 3 – 19. The Marys’ supporters got restless and fretful as they urged on the team to greater efforts for the important bonus point fourth try. It was Conor Toolan that supplied it, when from broken play he got the ball and fairly skimmed along as he left the defence helpless to score in the corner. He was unfortunate to miss out on another try, due to a forward pass, just on full time. It ended 3 – 24. For us Yippee!
Now our big one on a big night. Ladies Day, 1st April, don’t be a fool. Don’t miss it.
The Squad (Rolling substitutions)
15 S Toal-Lennon, 14 T Kennedy, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 R O’Loughlin, 11 D Fanning (Capt.), 10 S Kearns, 9 D Fanagan, 8 M Fallon, 7 D Aspil, 6 K Sheahan, 5 D O’Connor, 4 C Ruddock 3 B McGovern, 2 H Kean, 1T O’Reilly, E Ferron, M Elliot-Murray, Richard Sweeney, I Cullinane, C Gilsenan.