06.12.2008 1st XV v UL Bohemians (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V U L Bohemians RFC
Templeville Road, Saturday 6th December 2008
If “a week is a long time in politics” it is an aeon in rugby, judging on today and the reaction to it. The pre-match uncertainty and nervousness was palpable and a scare before kick off, when Conor Mc Inerney, who was afterwards so important in the lineout, wrenched his back in the warm up, added to it. Yet there was also a feeling of positivity about, following the exorcising work of Peter Smyth and his colleagues all week. On top of that, the day was a beautiful gift with gentle breezes and brilliant lowly elevated sunshine animating the scene and making elongated verminous shadows of the grass blades.
In spite of a still greatly debilitated squad due to injuries and illnesses the team responded in splendid and sustained fashion and their controlled hard working and brave display puts it with some of our more memorable feats. Although the loss during the week of Richie Sweeney as hooker, due to a rib injury, was great, David Kilbride was admirable in all he did and the front row of Jack Mc Grath and Robert Sweeney was strong and committed, the second row with Logie back to his mighty best and the backrow of Paul Nash, Hugh Hogan and Kevin Sheahan were unremittingly combative and suicidally brave in defence. Today it was the pack’s day, although truly well supported by the backs. It was one of the better rucking performances from Marys, with fiercely forceful primary, secondary and counter-rucking; the pick and go game was also driven and controlled and variation was good; the set pieces were also of a much higher calibre and there was consistency, with the obvious benefits.
At half backs, Simon Gibney, once again showed what a quality player he is. His performance was all the more remarkable in that he had only trained once with the team and has not had a game for several weeks. His vision and perception of the game are above reproach and his probes, with boot and body, effective, his covering uncanny and he had a man of the match performance. He was well complemented by Shaun Mc Carthy particularly with attack ball. The rest of the backline did well, Barry Lynn is settling back nicely, the wingers and mid field were up to all asked of them, so a fine team performance, accentuated by the vital fact that it was unrelenting to the end; this we need to repeat in all games from now on. Highest praise goes to Peter Smyth who extracted and inspired this display.
The Lunch was booked out, with 200 sitting for the Christmas fare, well served and enjoyed. The season it is, made it popular, but more especially so as our guest of honour and post luncheon speaker was to be Victor Costello. There is no more likeable and admired past player than big Vic; or Ned, as Reggie, Robbie or Titus, his closest friends in the club might call him. There was also an array of his past team mates present to welcome him and banter with him, amongst them was John Mc Weeney representing our greatly treasured sponsors Investec Ireland. Our other sponsors Topline, Paul Dean, and Tulfaris House, Paddy Kelly, were also well represented and of course Michael Fanagan of Aspects Systems and John Carvill of Eye Cue, the match ball sponsor, were there. Another clubman admired by both clubs was recognised by President Quinn, Jack Hennessy (sporting a really fine beard), father of our great Steve Hennessy. Jack had played for both clubs and was president of UL Bohs in 1985-86. There were two ladies’ tables with the ladies in full regalia and Sinead and Paul Murphy of Abbeyfield Foods were also enjoying the lunch. Paul, the assistant manager of J1s is deeply involved in the club and is a great support to the president
This season’s superb Year Book was on the tables today. It should be realised that our president Eoin Quinn has produced this publication, essentially single handed, for this and the preceding five years. It takes a great deal of time effort and organisation to collect, collate and edit all the material and advertisements, in it and it is a vital part of the club budget... The tightly packed and tastefully decorated hall (all of the club being decorated courtesy of Paul Brady as usual) added to the atmosphere and the air was sparking when our most popular, hard working and ever good humoured president Eoin Quinn, introduced Victor. What struck about Victor’s dissertation was the sincerity and his excellent assertion that clubs make rugby players and they need to have them as home to come back to when all the exciting international days are over and this emphasises the need for good quality club rugby. Victor also avowed his appreciation and memories of the administrators and supporters of the club, like Greg (Hoover) Meagher, Kevin Conboy and John Carvill Snr, J B Sweeney and Patsy Fogarty, while playing club rugby. He was cheered to the rafters and all went to the fields.
The game kicked off and we played against the hill and with the low bright sun, yet to be lower in the second half. A feature was that when against the blinding sun neither full back dropped a ball from one of the many high kicks aimed at them. UL Bohs had a very large pack with a Lighthouse number 4, who stood at the front of the lineout, to make it difficult on the thrower; he was like a Devon Toner clone. They may have shaded territory for the first 20 minutes and indeed looked skilful and fast but a new dynamic could be sensed in St Mary’s team as they scrapped for every ball and chased down every kick to put real pressure on Bohs. On 23 minutes Barry Lynn coolly kicked our first points for going off feet. Then the vital try came in the 33rd minute, after a lineout and a ruck we took the ball to near their 22 centrally, Conor Mc Inerney burst from the ruck with the ball and made 15 metres with red bodies dangling from him, he was brought to ground and we rucked hard, Nasher came in at pace took the ball left breaking several tackles before being brought to ground, we rucked again, there was momentary pause, as for pathos, then Simon Gibney insinuated himself through the melee (he must oil up with goose grease), dummied, accelerated and glided in under the posts for a lovely try. Barry converted and it was 10 – 0. We came straight back and under pressure they gave away a penalty for offside on 37 minute and we went in at 13 – 0 at half time.
The second half showed a rejuvenated UL Bohs and they tried to up the pace but we matched them, could we dare hope? On 13 minutes we got whistled at for coming in on the side and they got back three points and on 25 minutes they inched closer with another penalty for offside to make the score 13 – 6, we went through a nervous spell and made some changes, then stabilised and renewed our efforts we built the phases and kept possession very well, which is a vital part of modern rugby. A four phased movement involving big Logie taking ball hard to the right, then recycled ball saw Nasher take it to the left and then quick release saw Shaun use his delicate hands to feed Barry, who half drew the defence and timed his pass deliciously to Darragh who needed no invitation to power through two to score in the corner. No conversion, but the work had been done and it ended a memorable 18 – 6. The stars were shining again and optimism was the re-valued currency.
Afterwards, the Christmas spirit was all over the club and it has to be related that all from Bohs were gracious in defeat and pleasant to be with. Our players were relieved and happy and our supporters were beaming, including players’ parents; the Nashs, the Fannings, Gibneys and the Lynns as ever, the Mc Inerneys and Prof Sheahan and JB Sweeney, all there to howl their lads along. Spike had a look of a man hungry for a piano, Denis Kelleher was overjoyed and enjoying the company of the Mc Cabes who related that Del Boy is now married, congrats to Del. Of course Rynner was away helping with the Mellon Foundation. Ronnie Mc Brien, Jr. VP was enjoying his second of two glasses of red for the day. The highly popular and gregarious Jimmy Smyth, Peter’s father, was in wonderful form and great company as ever, it was also good to see lovely Gillian, Peter’s wife along. John and Eileen Doddy were having a chat with Eileen Fogarty (Ossie’s wife) and Charlie Barry was looking after everyone in his usual benign manner. Tom Brace was having a well deserved pint after looking after the gate as was Noel Keegan having finished his efforts to align all the cars. So a good evening ahead.
Also ahead is next week’s trip to Shannon. The game will be at Coonagh, as Thomond Park is not available after the Heineken Cup game the day before... Forego the trip north, get your gifts in Dublin and come on down, if ever you were needed it is now, so come. Keith will tell you the coach arrangements for those not going by train or car. So see you there.
Team 15 B Lynn, 14 C Hogan, 13 M Sexton (R Hudson), 12 C Donohue, 11 D Fanning, 10 S Mc Carthy, 9 S Gibney, 8 K Sheahan, 7 H Hogan (R Condren), 6 P Nash (Capt), 5 C Mc Inerney, 4 G Logan, 3 R Sweeney (R Murphy) 2 D Kilbride, 1 J Mc Grath (K Carroll).