1st XV v Garryowen (A) by D. O’Brien – 18.11.23

Garryowen FC V St Mary’s College RFC

31                                   22


AIL Division 1B

Shay Deering Trophy

Saturday 18th November 2023.


An extra edge there was always going to be, there had to be, as it was for Shay and it was Garryowen. Our own personable President Bobby O’Connor was met by a most welcoming and affable Garryowen, President Dr Jim Fehily. Garryowen hosted an enjoyable and generous lunch.  Both presidents spoke with warmth and feeling and emphasised the importance of the game and the special depth of feelings aroused, as it was for Shay. There was a good attendance with Niall Rynne Chair of the IRFU Management Committee, a special guest. Keith Wood was also in attendance, having three sons now involved in senior rugby at Dooradoyle.  One could see a throng of Garryowen and Marys supporters arriving in anticipation of a big biff match. Many Marys’supporters arrived.  Several old teammates of Shay from both clubs, were there, including Marys greats Declan Fanning, Frank Kennedy, VP Paudge McGill, Kevin Conboy and Noel O’Dea. Other top Marys’ members seen arriving were, Liam Birkett, Aoife O’Donnell, David Donoghue, Brian (Spike) Fanning, Gerry (G-Mack) McCormack, Alan Shirley; then there was Tony Bourke-Moran, Paul Brady and Mick the Medium chatting with spirit.

It was heartening to see the great Peter Smyth, Mal O’Kelly and Alan Shirley, all with sons who had just finished playing a successful U11 match V Garryowen; a future generation of talented Marys players.

Heart rates were building, as were the wind and rain, with the minutes ticking to kick off. The Marys U11s formed aspontaneous guard of honour for their heroes of the senior squad, as they took to the field. Marys-Marys-Marys…………….


This was a slightly different match than the previous five as the weather was unpropitious, with a diagonal piercer and soaking squalls which extended to a long second half drencher.  It was however not cold at around 12 degrees and the pitch was in good condition, if wet.  It meant that both teams had to take conditions into account with every play. The good thing about Ronan’s Rappers is that they do not brook interference, they just play, and they play with effulgence.

It was sad to see Steve Kilgallen go off early in the game, with a severe hamstring tear, for he and his opposite winger Leandro, have been goluptious, two pocket-rockets (Zip and Zap), over the past few games.  However, no sooner had Hurricane Hugo come on, than he scored a scorcher in the corner and soon after another.  And to think Daniel Sancery is out too, all vintage (winger) wine.

Without the absolute brilliance of so many last week, everyone on the field were top class. In very trying conditions, one man came under greatest scrutiny, fullback Conor Hayes,as he was peppered with high balls, he never twitched, caught them with alacrity and ran back with piercing penetration and linkage; or launched boomers or astute grubbers. He had a superb game; he was a rock and in his own home town, deservedly was awarded the SoftCo MoM Award.

There were a number of signal performances amongst them, one player to spark the flint and contribute inordinately to the game, was, Mark Fogarty. He was involved in so much of the game, running with elusive terpsichorean feet and covering everywhere. Every week he puts in that same committed performance. He has a titanium quality. What made it even more commendable today was when Adam McEvoy had to withdraw injured, Mark stepped in and was terrific, up with every play, keeping severe pressure on the defence and being a right thorn in their sides. We now have two top class hookers, for Jamie gave his usual highly rated all, and when Jack Nelson-Murray came in, he too showed his high quality, as did all our replacements, Ian, Leroy, Myles and the great Hyper-Hippo, Tommer, former captain and our player with the most AIL appearances .  That is something that singles out this squad, the depth of character and quality throughout, it is also something so important if a team is to prevail over season.

The Game

With a saturated surface, an idiosyncratic wind and sometimes drenching rain, there were bound to be mistakes, and there were.  It would be difficult to   recall a game with so many scrums and stoppages.  The wind made throwing into the lineout treacherous. These conditions make playing the type of game both of these teams wanted to, very difficult.   It was a hard fought encounter and was entertaining and uncertain to the end.   The visitors got the slightly better side of the wind in the first half, although Garryowen got first points on board with a penalty after 12 minutes. Hugo had two deadly strikes on 23 and 27 minutes to show his wonderful ability and put our tally to 12 points; score, 3-12.  On 32 minutes after a most intense raid on the Garryowen defences by the pack, led by arampant Ronan, a super take by Mick O’Gara, a fast follow by Adam who fed Deano and with a Deano special chip (no vinegar) to the wing for electric Ethan to take it with aplomb and sear through the defence to score out wide. That made it 3-17. The home team got back to 8-17 with a try following a mauled lineout and picks and drives on 38 minutes.  A scrum on 42 minutes gave Deano the ball he skipped to Mark who pierced the defence and passed inside to Mick O’G who flew over, and converted, so half time was called at 8-24

On 59 minutes and a series of picks and drives during a torrent of rain Garryowen got over and brought the score to 15-24. On 74 minutes after a series of high paced sorties and drives with Mighty Mick working non-stop, as he does each game, Mark, now buzzing at 9, made a sharp break for the line and fed Liam coming on a vicious vector, like a runaway juggernaut, he was not for turning, he went through the defence and scored, Mick converted and it was 15-31. Looking super for Shay. Garryowen, as is their wont never stopped trying and were rewarded after a lineout and drives,to score a try and make the final score 22-31.  


Five points for us, what a run, six games and six fives. 30 points and 8 points ahead of second club Blackrock.   There was rightful celebrations and a ceremonial hand over of Shay who travelled with his teammates on the bus home.  With no game next Saturday the players were permitted a jorum of jollity of which they partook with alacrity and chaired Shay to his throne behind the bar where he will now view proceedings.  You could try asking him for a pint, as in his time there was never a more generous man nor one who would more readily buy you one. This was a really good day for St Mary’s College RFC. We have the Groover back.Welcome Home Deero!

Remember 2nd December V Old Belvedere

Come on up and Roar on Ronan.  


D O’Brien.


15 C Hayes, 14, L Ramirez, 13 M Fogarty, 12 M O’Gara, 11 S Kilgallen, 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, J Nelson-Murray, T O’Reilly, L Jack, I Wickham M Carey,  H Conway.