J3 XV v BGF Ravens

St. Mary’s College RFC (64) v BGF Ravens (10)

Metro Division 7

Saturday 23rd March 2024

Tempeville Road

Saturday last brought the visit of BGF Ravens to Tempeville for the last league game of the season for our J3 squad. The last league game against these sides ended in a win for Mary’s however in any league campaign it’s one game at a time and the same focus and preparation levels are required for each game. To be at this stage in March , second in the table of division 7 and going into the last league games for our J3 and J4 squads is where all clubs want to be and it’s certainly not taken for granted and hugely respected by both squads. This position is due to numerous combined efforts of each and every person in the group and for those who come down to watch the games the rugby on display is a credit to this side and often respectfully remarked upon by opposition sides which truely is the greatest compliment in junior rugby.

We had a full clubhouse Saturday with the two games on and after a light shower , the action got underway with a strong breeze into the clubhouse. Captain Fagan opted to play into the breeze in the first half and Ravens got the game underway. With the senior players in the squad the focus was again to control and manage the game based on the conditions and how Ravens were going to challenge the Mary’s pack. The early stages of the game saw Mary’s with controlled phases of possession and after the early exchanges Ravens knew the Mary’s pack were going to be difficult to match in every area of the game. It’s probably rare to see match reports with huge mentions of front row players. These are the guys that turn up and reliably get the job done, it’s evident and a big issue when it’s goes wrong, especially at set piece. However the weetabix was definitely had on Saturday and the intensity that Boyler , Lucas and eoin brought to the game was immense. Each player put in huge , direct carries smashing the game line on numerous occasions. Line out and scrum was clean and impressive throughout. It was  great to see Rory back to game fitness and himself and Richie combined impressively both at lineout and play around the park. With Matty Kennedy and Hayden covering the flanks the ravens got little traction in the game, another big workrate from both lads and super tackling. Our number 8 Christian unfortunately could not play due to injury and huge credit to James Casey for stepping up at the last minute and putting in a solid performance. Casey is well known to the lads in this squad and the club and a big part of junior rugby in the club so it was great to see him slot in with this squad.

Mary’s early workrate was smart and controlled working up the pitch with wogie and Harry marshalling the backline until,  Harry used his quick footwork and natural ability to spot holes in opposition defensive lines, to expose a gap and get in under the posts. He then added the extras.

7-0 Mary’s 6mins gone

The confident start gave the boost needed for the next 10-15 minutes as the wind kicked up a little and ravens put boot to ball, as well as having a good go up front. They did put some good phases together but never really used the full width of the their backline , again more down to solid performances in D again from Denis and Shero , meeting every attack on the game line and not conceding yards. It wasn’t long until the controlled play from Mary’s got back to the ravens 5m, slow and accurate carries got Richie in over the line and at this point Ravens probably felt hard done by for the work they had done leading up to this.

12-0 Mary’s 22mins gone

The next few minutes saw play mainly in the middle of the park with various line breaks from both ravens and Mary’s, notably from eoin , Lucas , Matty and Hayden. Ravens did get back into the Mary’s 22 and were awarded a penalty for a high tackle where they made the correct call and hit the sticks.

12-3 Mary’s

Ravens were now growing into the game and were becoming more accurate in their handling and carrying. They worked their way back up the pitch after a huge kick from deep in their 22 was carried by the wind and gave them the lineout and platform to attack our 22. They kept the ball tight and eventually got over. Con added.

12-10 Mary’s

It was now a case of maintaining composure and winning the next few battles to dictate the possession and be calculated in taking the right opportunities. However when a reaction to a score is required this side demonstrate how it’s done, with some quick and accurate hands Jack got over in the corner.

17-10 Mary’s

This score re ignited our pack playing against a tough breeze and led by Richie , Mary’s were quickly back in the Ravens red zone with sustained pressure and huge work at the rucks to win those key little battles around the field. Mary’s were soon on the scoreboard again with a try from captain fagan.

22-10 Mary’s

The confidence was back up and the Mary’s backline grew more into the game. It wasn’t long until the next score came and after some good running rugby from Mary’s ,James Walsh got over the line in his first of two tries on the day. Back from Injury and playing great rugby it was a solid performance at 14 , creating great lines and defending cohesively with Reno at 15, who also put in a solid game.

Harry added the con 29-10 Mary’s

The Mary’s squad were now displaying some fantastic rugby given the conditions with some well worked back moves and off loads. We lost Matty Kennedy due to a head injury just before half time and Boyler came on with his ever reliable workrate to reinforce D at the breakdown. Just before half time it was Mary’s again on the scoreboard with Shero getting over the ravens line. Harry converted with a superb kick from the tee  and brought us to half time.

36-10 Mary’s

The half time regroup was used to re emphasise what was going right and as is the character of this squad Dave , murph, richie and all the squad still were looking to raise the bar and the standard of the game taking nothing away from ravens who still turned up with a full squad on the day and  had a go.

Again one of the biggest factors in this year has been the experienced senior players communicating on the field and making the right calls. With the second half , came the changes and a chance for our strong bench to make their impact. Kyle and Cian came on making immediate impacts and carrying hard at the ravens defence. It wasn’t long before the next score and with Mary’s now playing with the wind they dominated possession and territory. After more good hands out the back walshy got over for another try and Harry added the extras.

43-10 Marys

After this it was a throughly dominant performance by Marys, if anything the winning side maybe lost their discipline a slight bit and we were down to 13 at one stage , however despite this and the score Marys still kept ravens out in a late attack on the Mary’s line. Campo and Aj also came on , with campos eagerness making an impact and taking a solo run from about 10 m out, he stepped defenders like lomu and was not to be denied his try.

Harry converted 50-10

The scoring wasn’t finished there and the impact of the bench again came into effect with Boyler getting on the scoresheet and Harry making it another converted try. Jack o Mahoney was again on the scoresheet also with Harry adding the extras. Jack had a great game making yards with every carry and with two tries, he was the game day man of the match. The completion of the bench getting minutes saw Malo and Cillian taking to the field. It was great to see Malo back after injury and Cillian again slotted in after another solid 9 performance from wogie. Thank to Dan mc Manus also for supporting the squad.

64-10 a total of 50 points from tries and 14 from the boot of Harry fanning.

At this point and with consultation with the ref and ravens captain the game was called in line with the mercy rule.

While this was a convincing win everybody will know that the winning of these games starts before match day, the efforts of this group to push each other in training and raise their standards can’t go un mentioned. The group continue to innovate in set piece  at training and don’t settle for the same old reliable plays. Many thanks again to the support on the sidelines, with Bobby, mossy and flats there to support to name a few. Thanks to pokey for fixing the pitch divets and fran for helping out again with game prep , all part of making match day happen. We were lucky this year to have our last two league games at home which gave the squad a chance to catch up on the achievements so far and now refocus and drive on for the next few weeks. A league final awaits. Huge commitment and effort  well done to all involved.


Chris o connor