J5 XV V Clontarf Guilfoyle-James Cup

J5 XV v Clontarf RFC
Guilfoyle-James Cup Round 1
Clontarf RFC , Castle Avenue
Wednesday 03.04.2024

After originally being rescheduled it was a case of game on last Wednesday for the newly formed J5 team. The game was switched to the astro pitch at castle avenue resulting in loosing some players to the change and put our squad on the night down to 16 players, but we weren’t going to conceed as the team had only two friendlies this year and didn’t have the numbers to enter a league. The chance to enter a competitive cup was not going to be lost and last minute efforts were made to put a team out. Massive thanks to Fran Pender and Vinny for their help in getting lads to play.
Clontarf had just completed a league campaign and also had the numbers on the bench so we knew we were going to be up against it from the start and at one point close to game time based on the numbers there was a possibility we would not go ahead, however we turned up and were going to give it a go.
The game started off as most cup games and was quiet tight between both teams for the opening few mins however the Mary’s men did have the best part of the possession with big carries from Balfe and Liam to settle the early minutes. Browner was back at his best also steadying the ship in the front row along with Johnny Stevenson who both pit in a solid 80 mins. However no one had a choice in this due to lack of numbers. We missed our true captain James Casey who has been fantastic all year in keeping the group going and Barry out on the wing along with some more key players such as James, Karl, Rory and Ronan. Al mc Philips was the squad captain on the night and along with Dan mc manus, murph and Eric we had a more than solid backline for this game. It was their quick hands when the opportunity presented itself that led to the first try coming for Mary’s with Kevin Perry our full back getting over in the corner after clontarf getting sucked then spread out wide. Our
pack put in a huge shift with notable performances from balfe on the night breaking a toe for his troubles – heal well. Thanks to Keith who togged out and was thrown into the pack at short notice. Also thanks to player / coach Owen Clery who arrived straight from the airport and put in a huge game on the night. We had Dave Dixon on board to command the line out and Alex ryan back from injury putting in a solid performance. The Mary’s energy was high from the start and it took Clontarf a good 20/25 minutes or so to get back properly in the game and within our 22 where we gave up a penalty for a high tackle. Clontarf rightly took their chance at points and put 3 on the board after the initial opening play against a Mary’s pack up for the challenge. Clontarf were now growing more and more into the game controlling more possession and with the high tackle law being enforced Mary’s were under pressure after some quick tap penalties putting tarf back in Mary’s territory where they eventually came away with a try.
8-5 to Clontarf
It was Clontarf who then struck again with another try quite quickly making the score 13-5 heading towards the break. It was at this point the injuries started coming with Clontarf first to loose a player although they had the bench to replace. Mary’s disciple cost us here however this was not a result of any intentional infringements and merely down to not actually playing a competitive game and having a newly formed squad. Mary’s however didn’t give up and after Al and Balfe rallied the troops under the posts we got back into Clontarf territory where Murph got over the line under the posts after spotting a gap in the Clontarf backline while there were under the scramble defence.
Murph added the extras
13-12 to Clontarf at the break and a very respectable scoreline given the windy conditions and lack of numbers for ourselves.
We lost Keith at the break and Aidan came on at the wing to complete our numbers. Clontarf had the numbers to bring on a few subs and they did so with some good footballers, targeting out strong centre pairing of murph and Eric and putting on pacey wingers. The Mary’s line was stretched massively with gaps opening up and it was hard to keep pace with what Clontarf now had on the pitch. This was compounded by the fact that we got a red for a second yellow card offence , loosing Balfe our strongest player and pack leader. We had to rearrange and were lucky to call uncontested scrums at this level. We
lost our 10 Dan to a high tackle yellow. Clontarf rightly targeted us heavily here with a big effort from them exposing our back line and their newly subbed inside centre make two good line breaks to get over the Mary’s line. They then exposed the space out wide with some big passes and their wingers and full backs got over the line. At this point we had played a lot of the game down on numbers and lost Caglar due to a knee injury. The Mary’s men kept up the fight until the very end and got one score back at the final whistle with Eric getting over the line for a well deserved try. Murphy added the con.
Final score Clontarf (49) – Mary’s (19)
The scoreline here is really not a true reflection of the brave Mary’s effort on the night for a new team that had not all trained or played together and were just about able to field 15 and got two yellows and a red.  A massive thank you to everyone that turned up and thanks to Dan, Aidan and Keith for helping out with the game day jobs on the night.

chris o connor