J4 XV v Stillorgan-Rathfarnham (SR)
Friday 13th October, Heavey Technology Park, 8pm
After missing out on our first league fixture which was conceded by skerries this was the first competitive league game for our J4 XV, bringing us to the Dublin mountains the impressive new home of SR. This club previously played in Bird Avenue but has not had a home in its 50-year history. They now have a fine venue with some fantastic pitches for what is now Irelands fastest growing club.
The game began with both squads lined out on the halfway line along with officials to observe a minute’s silence in memory of a club board member who we were informed was influential in securing the new pitch we were about to play on, an important recognition for the many volunteers who work in the background of clubs so we can all enjoy the game.
Our lads were tuned in from the start and after a focused warm up from Gibbo and Dave we were set. The game started with Mary’s receiving and big pressure from SR on the early ruck ball. They had set out their stall to use their older, big pack to dominate the breakdown and any possession they would gain. Yet again as the game progressed our pack proved with their technical ability, fitness and work rate, SR were not going to have it all their way. This early work rate came with its reward as our captain Andrew gibbons got over in the corner after just 7 minutes.
This made it a difficult conversion for Dara, he unfortunately missed this one, but this was a just a blip on a trademark 10 performance earning him the man of the match. Dara kicked cons, penalties, 50/22’s and pressure relieving exit kicks when required as well as managing back play in the game teaming up well with Cillian at 9 who also had a great game with some huge tackles. As with a lot of players in this group the performances on the pitch start on the training ground and pre match warm up where Dara and Thady engaged players like young Ryan miller who also had a fine performance on the day proving more than capable at this level with some fine tackles and game awareness’s when required to keep Mary’s ball.
After Gibbos try the restart was knocked on by Mary’s. SR aimed to kick deep into our 22 on every restart and put our pack under pressure. SR slowly built on each phase and put our D under a huge test, our lads held firm and kept them out. We won a huge turnover near our line and the pack set up a good platform for some quick back play and quickly got back into the SR 22 with Cody unlucky to score with some good D from the SR back line.
Our lads kept going though and after some nice back play and putting the ball wide fast we were rewarded as Mattie Coughlan got over in the corner on the 27-minute mark. Great con from Dara then followed.
The battle up front continued up until half time and there were some periods of broken play in the minutes up to half time with some skullduggery at the ruck by SR. Our lads kept their heads and showed great maturity on the field. Our lads were fitter and demonstrated a better skill set and indeed could have had more points on the board at the half time mark. SR kept up the pressure and did manage to get in under our posts and converted.
12-7 Mary’s HT
As expected, SR came out after the break with a step in intensity and kept up the forward battle. Approaching the 50 min mark we had a high tackle penalty against us in our 22. Cillian was off despite tackling ferociously throughout and having a fine game, we readjusted with Thady moving to 9. SR wasted their opportunity with a knock on out the blind side after the scrum.
We got back up the field with some great work by Kyle tackling everyman in sight. After our own period of pressure, we were rewarded our own high tackle penalty in the SR 22. Dara took the points on offer,
The second half was categorised by numerous stops at the breakdown for players off feet, not releasing, not rolling away which broke up the flow of the game. The SR back line offered very little and were overshadowed by our superior back line and the performance of our 10.
During the second half Dave did get our subs on who all done well. Special mention to newer members of the team Ryan miller, Boyler and Cillian who all had fine games. We were not finished scoring and after some more pressure under the SR posts Aaron Doherty got over for a try. Dara put the conversion over.
We picked up a second yellow late in the game for another high tackle penalty, this offence continues to be a feature of all new games this season and it could be a while until we see fewer of these penalties.
SR did pull one back late in the game against the run of play to end the game at 22-12 Mary’s.
Thanks to those that turned up to support and special mention to flats and pokey for their support.
Thanks to john and Fran for their continued help and support in preparing this team for each game. Thanks to vice-captain Thady McKeever for creating a good atmosphere in the dressing room before and after, I think Dave was even singing at one stage!!
Well done lads.