1st XV v Buccaneers (H) by D. O’Brien – 07.10.23

St Mary’s College RFC V Buccaneers RFC
41                           25
Energia AIL Division 1B
Templeville Road
Saturday 7th October 2023


Effervescence etched the air as a tremulous tramp of supporters elbowed along the terrace at Templeville Road,resplendent in 25 degrees of hazy sunshine and hopes. As the temperature rose, so the expectation, as Ronan led out his men.

Needless to say, when you get a start like today it is a supercharged boost to the season. It is satisfying and tremendously optimistic for the campaign. Buccaneers as ever fought each moment to the end and at one stage early in the second half made a comeback, however, Marys regathered and went away worthy winners. Over the past few seasons the scrum has been excellent and so it was today. The lineout was strong and productive with good variation and use of the ball.

There were some fine performances with six tries scored and a bonus point win.  There can be little to complain about.  However, there must become caution when the penalty count, two yellows and a red card, are taken into account. Some effects may be put down to rustiness, but some also to lack of concentration, especially with a few defensive lapses allowing opposition scores. A few time, the defensive width was a bit narrow. It is better perhaps that it happens on the first outings rather than at a later, maybe more critical juncture. But anyway, very little to complain about.  There is a harmony already in this group that is commendable and there seems happiness in playing their game.  The follow up shape and pace were impressive too. Sean et al will take strong remedial action and then we can rejoice at a most uplifting overall performance. What is also encouraging, is the fact that all on view performed to or above the required standard and that there are still many top quality players available or soon will be. (Hugo Conway, Myles Carey, Adam Mulvihill, Steve Kilgallen, Craig Kennedy, Ian Wickham et al.)

The backs were fluid in action. Adam McEvoy is progressing all the time and he linked well and worked hard all game. Conor Dean was at his best, his passing and judgement were excellent, one pass was breath-taking and led to a beautiful tryand his judgement for his intercept try was the result of exceptional timing and belief.  His midfield were in harmony, with Mick showing his added value with his kicking; and what about Mark Fogarty? Remarkable, his feet would put River Dance to shame, his power and acceleration are rocket-ranked, he is fearless and his hands to his Skipper for his try, were transcendent. He is a fearsome tackler and covers well. The back three too, were sharp and capable with the wingers looking lethal and Conor Hayes at 15 at ease and control, his timing of the pass to Daniel Sancery for his first of two  tries,was perfection; indeed Daniel Sancery too, is a real find,showing lethal pace and hunger for the line; whizzing in for two.

The forwards also had a good day. When you have a front row of Mighty Mick Mc Cormack, Jamie Harding, Jack Reidy-Walsh, Tommer and Niall McEniff, you are going to have a strong scrum and we did, then having soaring Daniel Leane and Liam Corcoran in the row, it is going to be very strong, as is your ruck and maul.  If then on top of that you have a commando unit of the ever-outstanding Skipper, Ronan Watters who scored a brilliant try, battling Ben Taylor an epitomic Six, and ergophillic Ethan Baxter as a backrow, there is a unit of immense kinesis. It has to be said that the back row was particularly effective today and ensured fast ball and locked defence. Ethan was on a near ethereal level, as he whirred around the field hitting rucks, soaring for balls, and giving an almost impossible display of temerarious tackling.  He was everywhere needed, and ever ready to back up or close down; an outstanding game.  He was awarded the first SoftCo MoM award of the season.

The Game

There was frisson in the air as the ball was kicked off and AIL was up and running at Templeville Road. The belief in the team was clear, as they defended early on with confidence and calm.  Like the battlers and fine opponents they are,Buccaneers attacked with vigour and zeal. However on six minutes, we broke out and after a lineout 30 M out and a maul, the ball was released back, it came to Deano and he sent a honey-soaked pass out 20 M to Conor Hayes running on to it.  He made ground and timed his ball brilliantly to the Sancery Express and he fairly skimmed along the touchline and scored in the Gate Corner; a perfect amusegueul! 5-0.When on 16 minutes, Marys mounted an attack down the clubhouse side, a tap ahead was hurried in to touch in the Buccs 22 and the Marys lineout went into maul-mode, as it crabbed line-wards.  The defence broke, and in the middle,Jamie Harding, drilled his way over and Mick O’Gara added the over, to make it 12-0.

On 18 minutes, Buccs converted a penalty, 12-3. And 22 minutes after another lineout and maul on the 22 the ball was released back right to left, and got to Mark Fogarty coming in at Mk11, he timed his pass to Dan-San on the left wing, and he cruised in at the Gate Corner again. Mick converted and it was 19-3. The pace was matching the weather. 26 minutes another penalty was added by Buccaneers, 19-6.

The scrum put heavy pressure on and the ball came back to and then to Miracle Mark, he had his terpsichorean boots on and squiggled through a few, and somehow smuggled the ball to super Skipper, Ro. He sprang into sprint action and fairly flew the 20 M and under the posts. No problem to Mick he made it 26-6.  (Rattle and Hum)

On half time, Buccaneers had a Lineout in our 22, the Well Corner, they mauled and released and found a chink in our armour, to score under the posts.  It gave heart to the visitors; it ended the half at 26-13.  

The second half started with good pace again, as both sides battled for supremacy. On 57 minutes a short little scrimmage led to a red for Buccs and for Marys, a yellow and an unfortunate and rather harsh red.  So we played for some time with 13 men.  On the hour a mix up in defence gave Buccs a try in Carvill Corner, which they converted, and brought the score to a shaky 26-20. On 63 minutes, we got a penalty into the Cabbage Patch Corner, and our maul, although low on numbers was high on efficiency, and Jamie Harding who had fine accurate and productive game, scored his second try and we went to 31-20. Shortly afterwards, the referee got a leg injury and had to be replaced by one of the official touch Judges, as referee.     Then on 73 minutes Deano got a superbly judged intercept and ran from his own half to beat all and score a try, to cap a splendid game.  Mick added the extras and it was 38-20.  Before the end, Buccs scored an unconverted try, and Mick O’Gara struck a very good long range penalty and so it ended 41-25.

Afterwards, Beaming Bobby, our President enjoyed a lovely evening with his personable counterpart from Buccaneers, Brendan Wilkins and his entourage. Although the attendance was not extraordinary there was warm and welcoming feeling (well it was in the 20s!!) about, and many of our regulars were to be seen. Brian and Laura Watters and Ronnie McBrien, were enjoying a chat. Professor Mick Farrell was seen celebrating, and stalwarts like Michael Fanagan, Reggie/Brendan, G-Mack/Gerry and erstwhile super star, Colonel Terry Young, were all having some sustenance in the presence of the great JB and Franko. Aoife O’Donnell was there, The Ebbs were there in force, including Harry, home from USA for a break. In the Sean Lynch Bar, Tony Bourke Moran/TBM was there with his family celebrating his special birthday and handing out delicious birthday cake to all, including Spike, Barney Moran, Time-Warp/Robert McDonnell, Pyner, Kevin Conboy, evergreen Louis McMullan, Paul Brady and Mick the Medium.

Some years ago, I penned this verse to mark the start of AIL and the possible fortunes ahead.  Each season now it is included in the first report.

The changing Season.

Blue, with mud and sweat, the jerseys stained and gory

Tell happiness or sad, the game and all its story,

Clanking studs upon the floor, hissing of the shower,

Steam, and mist, humid smiles, the weakness or the power.

And after yet the patted backs, else the eyes averted,

Added cheers and anthems sung, greatest they’re asserted.

Each week anew the nervous strain, hope to gain in league,

Later on, the points to tot, not feeling the fatigue

Gliding by, the season whirs, squad in joyous fusion

Each week passes further on, reaching glad conclusion.

At last the human thought exists, triumph to proceed

If not, next season will arrive, then we shall succeed.

D O’Brien


15 C Hayes, 14 L Ramirez, M Fogarty, 12 M O’Gara, 11 S Sancery, 10 C Dean, 9 A McEvoy, 8 R Watters, 7 E Baxter, 6 B Taylor, 5 L Corcoran, 4 D Leane, 3 M McCormack, 2 J Harding, 1 J Reidy-Walsh. T O’Reilly, N McEniff, L Jack, C Pierce, A Walsh.