J4 XV v Tullamore (Lakelands) – 17.11.23

J4 XV v Tullamore
Metro League Division 8
Lakeland’s Park Terenure
Friday 17th November

The poor weather continues to interfere with all fixtures affecting pitch availability and to get this game on was a task in itself. However our experienced management team and fixtures secretary were well ahead in planning and with some help from our neighbours the astro in Terenure RFC was confirmed for this fixture. Thanks to all involved in making this happen and to our friends in Terenure for the pitch. Success on the field starts with setting up for success in training, selection , team management and resources on game day for the dressing room and game preparations. Dave, Fran and John have ensured this is resourced correctly each game day so the lads can concentrate on their rugby.
Based on the league standings going into this game and league results, Tullamore were going to present the toughest challenge for our J4 squad and from start to finish this was the case.
While we got to play on astro the weather conditions continued to play their part with a strong breeze throughout, mostly against Mary’s with some extra showers to make ball handling an issue throughout the first half – a tough night for our back three especially our full backs.

Tullamore started the stronger side and the experienced heads in their side were evident with their control of possession using big one out runners to hit hard and take yards. Their back line used the boot effectively with the wind when they could pinning us back in our 22 which we managed to defend on each occasion despite being almost isolated at times and under severe pressure our lads managed Tullamores game approach well. While the boot and wind gained territory for Tullamore some kicks were too deep and their chase was ineffective in converting territory to points along with our good awareness and communication in defence. Their pack was certainly bigger and put our scrum under huge pressure. It was a tough day at the office for gibbo, Marius and Eoin who all had fine games. Tullamore had the share of the possession in the first half and put our defence under huge pressure especially in and around any breakdown. Mary’s pack worked well to maintain their pillars and fold back around to put in big hits and prevent the one out runners for Tullamore. This was a huge test for this pack defensively and the most notable of these performances came from our MOM Kyle Corrigan. Kyles workrate in the tackle was immense with some fantastic chop tackles. His attitude shows the utmost respect for his team mates on the pitch and these performances simply make you want to wear the jersey, battling for every inch and not giving up. Other notable performances in the pack were that of Jon luc carvill and max grace putting a stop to many Tullamore carries. We didn’t seem to have the rub of the green in the first half and we had some unforced errors possibly due to trying to force it a bit too much after long stints of Tullamore possession. We had however have some big carriers and line breaks from gibbo and Thady who unfortunately picked up a hamstring injury after only 20 mins in but played on to finish the game. Cody came on temporarily and again proved to be probably the best utility player we have, an asset to any bench. For all Tullamore’s possession and their efforts to keep the ball tight and carry the game remained very tight bringing us to a half time score of 0-0, a somewhat accurate reflection of the challenge at hand for both teams. Each team missed a penalty in the first half also as they aimed to take a shot when on offer after various technicalities at the breakdown for which Tullamore had the upper hand.

We regrouped at half time knowing that Tullamore were going to attempt more of the same in the second half and we needed to focus on some decision making at the ruck. Jack came on for Harry at FB and Ryan miller also came on and we knew we had to refocus on managing the Tullamore kicking game and not to allow this to put us under pressure in our own half. The second half started with some big Tullamore pressure and they pinned us in our own 5m which was again defended very well. Mary’s did put an attack together soon after and were awarded a high tackle penalty not long into the second half. Dara slotted over the points.
3-0 Mary’s

The game was again tight for a long time and Tullamore continued to exert pressure on Mary’s with their side now forcing their own opportunities and not possibly not keeping the ball tight when they should have. Mary’s we’re now more composed and demonstrated a better skill set leading to clean ball for our back line. After a penalty for Mary’s who were mauling in and over the Tullamore 22, quinny waited for his opportunity to use ball and shifted it to Dara , who in turn moved it to Thady. The best ball distributor on the park spotted the space and man out wide, weighting a 15m pass out to Matty coughlan. The wheels were already on and due the accuracy of the pass Matty collected perfectly and got over in the corner.
8-0 Mary’s

This Tullamore side then went and done what really good sides do and answered with a score of their own not long after with some immense pressure on our defence.
Con scored by Tullamore.
8-7 Mary’s

The game continued to be tight with both teams having their share of some ball although Mary’s we’re more inventive and fitter with the possession with quinny, dara, Thady and Dan keeping the ball in play and shifting it quickly out the back. One such move led to a break by Thady making big yards into the Tullamore 22 where he offloaded to jack in the corner who got the ball over the line holding off two Tullamore defenders. Dara put a huge con from the corner in between the sticks.

15-7 Mary’s with 10 mins left
Tullamore to their credit came right back at it and threw everything they had at us. They put Mary’s back on their line for most of the last 10 only to be held up twice after some fantastic defensive work by Richie fagan and Matthew Kennedy. They also managed to shift the ball out wide on one occasion as the overlap of numbers was on and while retreating from an offside position Dara picked up a yellow for a deliberate knock on here. Down to 14 for the last few minutes.

Mary’s regained possession and the calls came from the line during the breaks in play for composure on the pitch although our lads knew what to do with leaders like gibbo picking and carrying maximising the slow yards to close out the game. The final whistle soon came close to the rousing Mary’s support who also witnessed the tension in this game unfold. This was a massive test for this side to which they not only stood up to but embraced on the field, a true character builder here and a testament to this hard working group. Dave , John and Fran also got the bench on the field who slotted in well . Well done to campo, aaron, Ryan , Cillian, cody , Lucas and daragh. Huge thanks to all those who came out to support especially our J3 players. We move to next week and the challenge of Emerald Warriors.

Chris O’Connor