01.11.2008 1st v Cork Constitution (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V Cork Constitution FC
Saturday 1st November 2008
Overall, a different type of day, dry and bright, a different competition, cup not league, and a different result but the same two teams as last week, were on view today. Although the contest not as tense or compelling as last week, and considering the nature of cup matches and their finality, it was a game of exciting, good quality rugby sprinkled with adventure. From our point of view we can look at it as a further step in the development of the team and, when taken into account that Cork Con had several Munster contracted players, including a current international, the behemothic Dennis Leamy, while we lost two most influential players during the game it augurs well for our the rest of the season. Overall now, we are without eight top players, including the captain Phillip Brophy, the quality of our play therefore being a just testament to excellence of the coaching of Peter, Pottsy and Shaun and the quality of our squad.
We lost only by two points, led for a long period and indeed save for a little poor luck; we might have made it a one point win with a final drop goal and possibly had two late penalties in front of the posts. So a lot to be happy with; of course there were a couple of dropped balls, the penalty count was up on last week and the accuracy of our lineouts was imperfect. We may not have got the better of the turn overs, which led to periods of playing without the ball, but that factor was probably the most satisfying from our point of view, our unyielding, organised and courageous defence, sometimes for sustained phases on our own line. Once again we showed that we possess the backline to trouble the most professional of opposition, with Shaun running his line well and Conor Donohue doing phenomenal work, always at the heart of things, in both attack and defence and indeed I would make him our man of the match, he also combined well with Mark Sexton who can be happy with his debut at 13. Faced with Con’s professional back three, who were impressive, our own lads compared well and up to his unfortunate exit, early in the second half, due to hamstring strain, Conor Mc Phillips was again exemplary in all respects and most supportive of those around him.
The forwards were not behind in any way and it is creditable that after such an exhaustive and exhausting effort last week, to see the level of commitment and effort from them. We had a very young front row; all three young props used, have impressive anthropometric credentials and did particularly well. Our scrum was strong throughout. Conor Mc Inerney at 5 was again impressive and competitive, as was Nasher, today’s captain, he had a splendid game, as ever. Louis Bourke was another who worked very hard and had a particularly fine first half. Hugh Hogan was relishing the jousts and was highly productive, before unfortunately having to part the field half way through the first half with a badly bruised hip. Indeed the entire pack stood up.
Pre Match Conviviality
With our president Eoin Quinn, returning just before the game, vice president Niall Rynne took charge and welcomed the small select group of alickadoos, especially the Cork Constitution FC president, Brian Ludgate and his committee, in his relaxed friendly manner to the compact lunch (no I did not say packed lunch) in the centenary bar. Rynner, the complete communicator was born to the role and in an amusing way he made all feel at home. He praised the work of Wally Morrissey and Packy Derham of Con for the work they do for club rugby. And then John Cunningham, radiating a smile, the hard working Hon Sec called on John Pyne to say grace, which he did with aplomb. Some Marys greats were present like Sean Lynch, our first ever Lion, in the presence of JB Sweeney, John Doddy and Spike, Michael Fanagan was in the company of his friend, former referee and IRFU Rugby Administration Manager Gordon Black, who assured us that he is not really thinking of changing the colour of his surname and standing for election. We did not have a match forecast competition so Claire Rynne (she showed up the men including the hubby) did not have the chance to repeat her impressive winning forecast of last week. Coming out after the lunch it was good to note Greg Mac Cambridge back up supporting his old club, very proud after his daughter’s recent success in the Dublin City Marathon
The first half was five minutes old when we were awarded a penalty for off side which Shaun Mc Carthy put over and it was 3 – 0, the game was moving along at a fast pace with good combination work from both sides, getting forwards and backs moving the ball wide whenever the chance presented. After 18 minutes Con got a penalty, converted by Richie Lane, and then on 23 minutes they got a nice try by Cronan Healy; it was 3 – 8, but we continued to press and Shaun put over another penalty on 32 minutes.
Running out of defence, Mark Sexton sent a lovely pass to Conor Mc Phillips who straightened, accelerated and made good ground before transferring to Darragh Fanning who continued the progress up along the wing on the terrace side he slipped the ball inside to Conor Donohue who drew the closing men, timed it with exactness and kicked ahead with great deftness, it slipped nicely into the corner and Darragh Fanning used his power and pace to go between two defenders and dive in at the corner for a lovely try on 35 minutes. It was 13 – 8 and so it remained to half time.
The second half began with the same pace and élan and both sides were taking every opportunity to move the ball and innovate and the crowd were starting to add voice to the scene and confidence was growing in the Marys side, although Con held on to the ball well and at one stage were coming in waves at us but the organisation was commendable and no one shirked a tackle our young props were showing their mettle too, both in the loose and the tight, and many scrums on the line were repelled, however when 25 minutes had almost gone Con had another scrum on our line and Leamy and Stringer went wide on a fine move with Leamy switching to Stringer and he returning to Leamy coming back in, to go over close in and it was 13 15, following the conversion. Try as we might, and we did, we could not get across the line. As time up was approaching Matt D’Arcy made a lovely double break, having got up after a half tackle and making it inside the 22, he was high tackled to bring it to an end, unfortunately Mr Rolland missed it, however we got a scrum from the ruck stall and Louis Bourke tried with a break from a good scrum but was stopped short, we got another scrum and all saw Shaun step back and await the ball, it came he struck and two on rushing Con men blocked it down and sadly we said cheerio to the AIB Cup. But we had gone down with fight, honourable effort and skill and we have many more things to look forward to.
Afterwards warm handshakes and drinks were exchanged and although sad, the Marys followers turned their minds to future events such as our LSC game on 15th and the resumption of the AIL league on 29th November against another Cork team, Dolphin in Cork. Barney, in company with brothers Peter and Fr Brian Mc Laughlin, was busily slagging all who passed his way (and all got out of his way as quickly as possible). John and Joy Cunningham slipped home early to do a bit of baby sitting, while Pat and Eileen Nash, in company with son Paul, were having a little tipple to keep warm. Ronnie Mc Brien, our Jr Vice President, was still checking on the players’ numbers and names, while Alain Rolland was giving a refereeing talk to his disciple John Lawlor, who was genuflecting after every sentence. Club Captain Phillip Brophy was in deep conversation with his dad Eugene, while the president, Quinner, was being kept in check by son Conor. Everyone was delighted to see Patsy Fogarty there on his 50th birthday. Rumour hath it that a late night followed and indeed some senior members have still not been found.
Team 15 C Mc Phillips (C Hogan 45mins), 14 Paddy Brophy, 13 M Sexton, 12 C Donohue, 11 D Fanning, 10 S Mc Carthy, 9 S Gibney (M D’Arcy 50 mins), 8 H Hogan (R Condron 25 mins), 7 Louis Bourke, 6 P Nash (Capt), 5 C Mc Inerney, 4 G Logan, 3 J Molloy, 2 Richie Sweeney (M Duggan 50mins) 1 K Carroll (J Mc Grath 50 mins)