U20 XV v Greystones (Lakelands) by D. O’Brien – 19.11.23

St Mary’s College RFC U20s V Greystones RFC

24                                      14

JP Fanagan Premier 2.


Sunday 19th November 2023


No you have not gone blind nor I daft, (well not completely). Yes, we were playing a home game at Lakelands on their 4G all-weather pitch. Unfortunately, with all the rain of late, our pitches could not take it just now. Anyway, maybe playing there may have given our lads even more competitive zest. Watching the warm-ups, both squads had the look of young sports bulls preparing for the arena. Greystones (played and won 3) were second to Corinthians (played and won 4) on the JP Fanagan 2 Table.  Marys were 2 from 3, so this was a really big one, to get back into top contention. The team had a few names familiar over the years, Kennedy, Jennings, Brennan, all sons of former Marys’ players. Also in was Eoghan Pender, son of Senior Team Manager.

This game was an apotheosis of rugby and it took two excellent teams to so make it. Both teams young and enthusiastic, full of skills and strength.  Greystones had a few really large humans that probably gave them the edge in avoirdupois, but this may have been negated by the mobility of their opponents. The two teams were matched perfectly and so it led to an intriguing and extremely close game, with nothing decided to the trembling termination of the game. It was fascinating to compare the two backrow 8s, both big fast and pancratic, and the two opposing, talented sets of half backs. The sharpness and bite of the Marys backrow had a lot to do with the outcome, but the two teams were relentless and fearless as they flung themselves into the fray.  Saying that, it was a credit to the coaching and the ethos of both teams that it was wholly fair and sporting.

There was a strong wind blowing straight down the pitch. St Marys had it for the first half; could they build a score and one substantial enough to give confidence and sufficient buffer? Looking at the scoreboard it is clear that it was; well, if it was it was only just; as things emerged.

The set pieces again, were very even, St Marys’ second row of Joe Durkan and Oran Reid ensured a good supply of ball out of touch, and they both worked hard on free range.  Joe has benefited from working with the senior squad. The front row too were most impressive in all regards, especially in the tight.

The home team spent the first half hour with the strong wind working in Greystone’s territory, although there were a few dangerous breakout sorties from the visitors. Eventually after two penalties, lineouts and mauls, multiple picks and drives, highly mobile and active Luca Jennings terebrated the dense defence and scored close in.  It was only four minutes later, when a fine move saw stylish fullback, John Brennan join the action, and fairly whizz in at the left corner.  It was 12-0.  Then on 36 minutes Stones broke out and scored in their eqvilant corner 12-5.  Luca Manselli, on 40 minutes, used his great power and skill to break the Stones’ defence and score a fine try 19-5. They scored a penalty on 43 minutes 19-8

Greystones turned on the power and pressure.  Now with the wind, they converted long range penalty on 45 minutes, 19-11.  From then to the end, it was mainly a rear-guard action for Marys.  There were a few skilful relieving break outs. Greystones scored another penalty on 72 minutes, 19-14.  It was looking tough.  They besieged the Marys’ line.  The home side dug in, there were near splits, but brave young hearts said no, someone threw his body across the breach, a half break and a finger tackle dragged him down. They came in twos and threes still the defence hung in contumaciously.  Marys were not going to succumb. They were brilliantly defiant.  Super stuff.  Then when it was looking really tough, 75 minutes, there was brilliant break out up the right wing, Rory Dillon, had the ball; he hit the Turbo, off he went, flailed them in the right hand  corner. Oh Ecstasy! And it could be enough?  Fairness to Greystones, they did not wilt, they still piled it on, but it was enough. Winner all right. It was a great joust and Greystones were sporting losers, Marys gracious in victory and both knew they will meet again and it will be a new day.

Great credit is due to the coaching and management group, who have developed a fine U20 squad, full of skill character and potential.  Sean Healy, U20’s Head Coach, has worked hard and shown great ability.  Perennial Manager Vinnie Murray, who is synonymous now with U20s, has been vital to their assembly.  Sean is assisted by super, Club Captain, Ronan Watters and Vice-Captain and inside Centre, Mick O’Gara; also Strength and Conditioning Coach Dan Lanelli. Vinnie has as his assistants, Gary Croke, Brian Mc Mahon and Jack McDowell.

D O’Brien

Squad. 15 J Brennan, 14 S Kennedy,13 R Moore, 12 S Ryan, 11 D McNulty, 10 M Blake, 9 S McGrath (Capt.), 8 L Manselli, 7 L Jennings (VC), 6 C Costello, 5 J Durkan, 4 O Reid, 3 R Smith, 2 L Begley-Taylor,1 F King.  16 G O’Shea, 17 E Pender, 18  L Pollicky,19 T Keoghan, 20 J Lynch, 21 C de Lacy, 22 R Dillon.