14.12.2008 1st XV v Shannon (A)
Shannon RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
14th December 2008.
The end proved acidulous, when up to mid second half it appeared almost paradisiacal, with our leading and playing with zest and belief. Yes, it may have ended badly for us but Peter and Pottsy have instilled a belief and resolve into their team which is starting to show against the hardest of targets in the most fortified of citadels. And so it was in Coonagh (our game annoyingly relegated from Saturday and Thomond), we played a strong and well disciplined Shannon side with a number ten, Tadhg Bennett, who knew every patch of the pitch and could put the ball onto them at will, his kicking, well supplemented by that of their 15, may have swung it for the home side. This of course did not make it easier for the likes of Paul Nash, who led his team with heart and who had to change into the second row during the game and still continued to play as a backrow in the loose, so ending up in a state of total exhaustion and disappointment; the man knows no end point. Just before the start, once more we had disruption, this time that of losing influential Gareth Logan, due to illness. Fergus O’Sullivan stepped in for him and did so very well, especially in the lineout, stealing a couple and securing well. Later when he was replaced, Ross Condren, who went to 7, also did well.
The game was tough and unforgiving but not rancorous and we justly led at half time, due to hard work and skill. Our lineouts were good, with Conor, Fergus and Hugh all excellent, our rucking was fast and fierce and our first up tackling as good as in any recent performance. We were also getting the ball out wide and looking dangerous with Darragh Fanning and Conor Donohue looking particularly committed and Conor Mc Phillips, recovered from injury, hungry. Conor Donohoe due to his work rate, skill and an exceptional try, made me incline towards him as our man of the match. It was good to welcome back Matt D’Arcy at 9 and when he settled in he worked hard all game, also good to see coming back was the tough and talented Richie Sweeney at 2. Our backrow continues to make an important contribution to the team and again this proved true, with Hugh Hogan leading the charge. Our rucking was not quite as fast or powerful in the second half, which gave Shannon a little more possession and with Bennett putting them into good positions and taking advantage of every possible penalty opportunity we were bound to suffer. The penalty count was skewed severely in their favour. It must be said that St Marys never stopped trying for the entire game and looked, right to the final whistle, as though they could get the game back; so, one that got away.
The game commenced in fast fashion and Shannon were playing into a sun transported from Templeville last week. We had to face it second half and, as in last week’s game, there were no dropped balls due to it.
It was noticeable early on that we were playing with confidence and commitment and after only five minutes Kevin Sheahan took on a ball and made good ground, then Chops slued through them and laid it back to Matt, for Conor Mc Phillips to take a good line on the blind and score. Barry hit the conversion just right and we were seven up and fizzing. They opened their count with a penalty on ten minutes. We got a penalty in front of the posts on 20 minutes which unfortunately we scorned and they hit target on 28 minutes and it was 6 – 7 however we continued to press and looked well the better side and Barry made it 6 – 10 on 30 minutes with a good penalty. It was 9 – 10 on 34 minutes and then just on half time Conor Donohoe burst through the middle from near half way, beat three men, then looked for the support, this time dilatory and when not forthcoming, ran wide straightened and was held, or was he, he thought not, so he went again, slipped free, shrugged off two more and went in past them at the corner and closed towards the posts. An exemplary try and a good conversion by Barry left us a healthy 9 – 17 at the turn. Whew, it was fast and we were confident and the travelling faithful led down to Limerick by Robin Bailey and Deirdre Grimson was chanting Marys – Marys - Marys.
The second half was eight minutes old when we slipped up, they scored from a scrum close in with an 8, 9 14 move, which they converted, so hard to relate it was 16 – 17 but we still looked good, ten minutes later they scored again and it was 21 – 20. Young Jack Mc Grath who had fought manfully and well again was replaced by Ruairi Murphy and he also got stuck in to the battle straight away and also did well.
That bleak feeling was getting into the supporters’ bones but our team was battling and after a high tackle, at last on 25 minutes, we got a chance and Barry made it 21 – 20 and spirits rose there was 15 left and we were going for it. Our tempo rose again but they kicked well to the corner, we won our lineout, but disaster struck when we had the clearance kick blocked down and it rolled nicely and 26 – 20 it was and 28 minutes on the clock. Shannon’s turbulent terraces were baying for four and “Come on Shennin”. To the credit of Smythy’s men they tore into the fray and hammered on the line for a long period and coming near to time we had several penalties close in and we scrummed, we ran close in we drove but could not make the final break. It was close “O” so close but it ended, 26 – 20. We got our bonus point and slipped straight away to 8th and they jumped to 3rd Sad.
Now we have a break in AIL until 17th January 2009 when we play Garryowen at home and we have a practice game on 9th under lights before that. Meantime the players will have a short and well deserved rest. We can be pleased, we are well placed to climb and have many of our hardest games gone, not that we will have any easy ones. We have developed a fine team and temperament and the supporters can look forward to enjoyable worthwhile encounters in 2009. There has been no team we have payed so far that was not beatable by Marys and that is in spite of a dreadfully unfortunate series of injuries, I know our president, Eoin Quinn, (Quinner), who is intensely committed to his team deserved better luck, as indeed did our super skipper Phillip Brophy who had to face the uncanny captain’s curse. The better news is that he is very hopeful of being fully ready for Garryowen and what a cheer he will get when he returns. His inclusion will be the last ingredient needed for us to soar. Spare a thought for poor Stephen Grissing, out for the season, although he too is recovering after his operation, also on the way back are Barry O’Flanagan, Jonny Molloy and Rob Gannon. Another good news tale is that Rob Smyth successfully continues his rehabilitation on the J2s. So let us all be of good cheer. Now the season melancholy, will lead to reasons to be jolly, Tra la la la la la la la! Practise your carols for Friday night.
On that festive topic, all involved in rugby at the club really want to send you a thank you for the super support and the enjoyment of your company and wish you the best ever Christmas.
Team 15 Barry Lynn, 14 C Mc Phillips, 13 M Sexton, 12 C Donohoe, 11 D Fanning, 10 S Mc Carthy, 9 M D’Arcy, 8 K Sheahan, 7 H Hogan, 6 P Nash (Capt), 5 C Mc Inerney, 4 F O’Sullivan (R Condren), 3 R Sweeney, 2 R Sweeney, 1J Mc Grath (R Murphy).