1st XV v Blackrock (H) by D. O’Brien – 09.12.23

St Mary’s College RFC V Blackrock College RFC

20                                            3

Energia AIL Division 1 B

Templeville Road

Saturday 9th December 2023


October 2015, was the last time Blackrock College RFC visited us at Templeville Road in AIL competition. For us, it was a real pleasure to have them back, we missed them.  There has always been a close friendship between our two clubs and an interchange of players. Sadly, many special alicadoos from both clubs have died since then.  In addition to the friendship there has also been keen rivalry with many epic battles. Before any game could commence Senior Manager, Paul Pender, rounded up a willing corps of seasoned volunteers to join him in forking the pitch.  It had been deluged over the previous 48 hours.  They did an impressive job, and so it was in good condition when the U8s cheered their heroes on to the field, lead by mascot and top St Marys’ Stars player, Charlie O’Neill (son of Robbie).

But before all that, President Bobby O’Connor had welcomed President Paul Flavin and his committee to a packed, lunch (yes, but no, not a packed-lunch). It was packed also with former players, coaches and celebrities from both clubs. Steven Hennessy and Dermot (Barney) Barnewell were there and got a special welcome. Dr Jim McShane, former Marys’player and current Leinster Senior Medic was there with Greg Maher et al.  On medics, there was a star turn out of lunching medics, Prof Mick Farrell, Prof Kieran Sheahan (Father of Kevin-Shiner) Dr (Mr) Niall McEniff, and Dr Morgan Crowe all healthily nibbling lettuce. There was Christmas everywhere, and by lunch end, many Rudolf stand-ins. Both presidents excelled in grandiloquence, wit, and warmth.Leaving all that warmth, everyone had to face the full venom of Elin on the terraces and throughout the grounds.

There was some disquiet, as the home team had the storm in their backs in the first half playing towards the Templeville Road End. Sages presaged it was a 14 point wind. But it was never a game to generate high scores. With the conditions,continuity was difficult and on occasions penalties were eschewed for scrums, to negate the hazards of lineouts. If it lacked the beauty of continuous fluidity, it made up for in hardgraft and hand to hand combat.  It was a full blooded contest between the two top teams in 1B and it never disappointed.  Rock came to play and showed their worth with a young, athletic side.

Ethan Baxter, was out with HIA from last week V Old Belvedere, so Super Skipper Ronan, took the open side, and versatile Leroy Jack, started at 8. Good it was to see Liam Corcoran back after last week’s injury,. Again, this was very much a team effort with everyone vital. It was refreshing to see the players who are out injured, such as Craig Kennedy, Stephen Kilgallen, Niall McEniff, etc. up in support.   Both teams had to face Storm Elin, (with Storm Fergus forecast to follow).  In between these storms, Rock had to face Storm Michael:-  Michael McCormack has been outstanding again this season, match after match, he has been a particular force. Between this and last week’s match, he has played nearly 170 minutes.  Follow play all the time and you will see him there,in or near to the action.  He is a leader in every way. He rucks and carries with venom, he tackles like a tank and he scrummages with volcanic power. He was outstanding today and deserved to receive the SoftCo MoM Award.

Considering the conditions, it appeared Rock did well to be 10-3 down at half time. A feature of the game was the quality of both defences. Marys put on pressure from the start, but it was 20 minutes before the invaluable Mick O’Gara scored a try following a break in from the wing from lambent Leandro, he linked with Deano and Ronan, then, Mick made it through a melee of defenders from the 22 to under the posts.  He converted his own try. Ten minutes later Mick added a penalty, before Rock scored a penalty on 35 minutes.  So as noted it was 10-3 at Half Time.

It looked a difficult task for the home team, facing the storm in the second half, but this group of players has powers of resilience and concentration which has made it so far,unbeatable. After three minutes, Deano gave out one of his defence shredding passes to Conor Hayes and he flew up along the clubhouse touchline. He gave it inside to magic Mark Fogarty who sliced though and up to thirty out. Mark gave Leandro the ball and he did his Zip on to the Well Corner and through the despairing grasps and spectator gasps, another super team try.15-3.  Just on time Hugo, who like Leandro, had been causing problems for Rock all game had a sparkling diagonal   run from midfield and linked with Conor Hayes; he skimmed up along the far touchline, near halfway he kicked ahead and following fast he re-gathered and went all the way to the Cabbage Patch Corner. Another super try and another good win. Eight in a row and 39 points.  

After the match entry to the clubhouse was nearly impossible with the biggest crowd at Templeville Road for several years now, with the festive atmosphere adding to the scene it was almost levitational, with a marvellous night in prospect.

Next Saturday we head to Belfast to Queen’s University.  They play exciting fast rugby, which should make it compelling viewing. It is bound to be a cracker, considering the season, there will be few presents, the players too when tackling, will have to wrap well. The players can hang up their stockings (and boots) for Christmas.   Tommer can add his Hose.   The club is arranging a coach.  Give yourself and the family a treat, go along, support Ronan’s Rampagers and enjoy a meal up there and a sociable trip up and back. This is the last of the first half of the league and a great chance to go into the break unbeaten.

Come on up and Roar on Ronan.


D O’Brien.

Team 15 C Hayes, 14, L Ramirez, 13 M Fogarty, 12 M O’Gara, 11 H Conway, 10 C Dean, 9 A McEvoy, 8 L Jack, 7 R Watters (Capt), 6 B Taylor, 5 L Corcoran, 4 D Leane, 3 M McCormack, 2 J Harding, 1 J Reidy-Walsh, 16 J Nelson-Murray, 17 T O’Reilly, 18 I Wickham, 19 J Nolan, 20 M Carey, 21 D Sancery.