17.03.2009 1st XV v Garryowen
St Mary’s College RFC V Garryowen RFC
St Patrick’s Day 17th March 09.
Having scored a try to a penalty in 1975 against Garryowen and although ending up 3 – 3 this was enough to win the All Ireland Centenary Cup, with tries taking precedence; no such result today, as our fine try and one penalty to three penalties left us a point short and a lot of very sad atrates around Templeville Road. This was a top quality game of rugby played at high tempo all through and the skill levels were impressive. St Marys had a more potent backline and the forwards were fast and controlled and overall looked always the more likely to score, while Garryowen showed good composure and had a distinctly superior kicking game, with full back Kilroy particularly adept in this area. Our ball retention, set pieces and work rate were top class and even with the bitterest disappointment at not winning we must feel staunchly proud of our team. They played with magnificent fervour for the 80 minutes, never flagging or flinching and there were superhuman efforts made. The forwards worked well together, with again the backrow relentless in their endeavours, row two, did all asked of them and Large Logie was seen hammering away at rucks in the 1st minute and the last minute, on this day however it was the front row who stood out, Robert and Richard Sweeney with skill, power and pace putting the fear of God into the opposition and in combination with Ruairi Murphy in the tight they were imperious, pummelling the Garryowen scrum and making it easy for 8 and 9. That same Ruairi Murphy was for me the most impressive forward on the day and indeed is probably the most improved player in the squad this season. He worked uncompromisingly both in the tight and loose and gave a fine performance. As said, the backs looked more potent than their counterparts, Conor Donohue showed his versatility by fitting in without hitch at right wing, the skipper Phillip Brophy worked until he almost dropped and had a really good game, Mark Sexton showed good hands and took his try well, but once again it was Darragh Fanning who was, for me, the man of the match. He seemed to have the power of bi-location as he was to be found everywhere on the pitch looking for work and he caused a serious threat to the opposition every time he got the ball. Being ultra-modest he never mentioned that he had, three days prior to that, scored a hat trick of tries for the Irish Colleges against the Scottish ones. As the president said afterwards the difference was that they took their chances and we did not manage that.
It has to be mentioned that Peter Smyth who has been involved in looking after the Blackrock College team all season and should have been at the RDS with them for their schools’ final, was with his Mary’s team. He did manage to get down afterwards courtesy of Will Heffernan and his Kawasaki 900 and is still trying to get his legs to work and face to straighten after the fear.
The promise of the day
What a beautiful day it was with sun, light winds and teen temperatures and the clubhouse was looking splendid, due to John and Marie Hammond having spent all morning from 6.00AM lovingly adding touches of décor and decoration and working flat out to have the place in top class shape. They had the entire clubhouse bedecked with shining shamrocks, bunting, flags and even lively leprechauns here and there, however, due to the present economic situation there was not a sign of a crock of gold. It must be mentioned that since Marie has agreed to look after the office she has been a super find, she has not confined herself to running the office, which she does to perfection, but also cares for the entire campus working closely with Spike, Frank and the management committee, the club owes her a big debt and with husband John hovering in the background and coming in to lend a hand when required, we must say thank you Mr and Mrs Hammond. Special thanks have to go to Patsy and his bar staff on the day for, under difficult conditions, working full out non stop from lunch time to closing time.
To add to the fine appearance we had available, a family style barbeque provided by Chris Reilly and organised by our ever active president Eoin Quinn. Answering the call of the president Dermot Ferris ands Jack Ebbs, with the help of several others including La helped sell the meal tickets. Even though the game was arranged at short notice there was good turn out from regulars and a fair few neutrals were spotted around the club, enjoying the sun and banter. Among those attending were Michael Daly of Lansdowne, Padraig Guilfoyle from DLSP and Billy Glynn of Galwegians who was John Hussey’s guest. Once again families of players were to the fore with Pat Nash, Eugene Brophy, Michael Mc Inerney (sadly son Conor was out injured), JB Sweeney (of course), in company with Matt Jones, Greg Murphy and the Murphy clan including some Australian friends in support of Ruairi, also seen were Ned Copeland and Adrian with attractive fiancé. The Fannings and Lynns were there and Collette Mc Phillips was having a drink with Aoife, who never snaps but photographs beautifully, while on duty doctor Dr David Ryan was, as ever smiling, while chatting affably with Ian Bloomer who is doing a fine job as fourth official this season. Paul Brady came incognito, (his little daughter gave him the shades) it looked as though Dave Donohue had done the same thing but it turned out that he had been with the Kennedys for the previous three days. The ladies’ team was well represented, led by Olivia and Helen and Mossy was there scouting for players.
There was no doubting our intentions or our commitment as we started at high power and ran the ball well. The retention was sound and we were winning the ball on the ground and out rucking Garryowen we threatened their line on several occasions and after 15 minutes a superb ball from Shaun Mc Carthy hit Broph, who did well to take it at top pace, straightened well and gave it on however, a slight delay then in getting the ball on to Darragh gave the opposition time to cover him; however it showed that we had the distinct edge out wide in spite of Ciaran Lewis playing for Garryowen at 13. It was lovely to see Ciaran but we hope the next time we see him playing it will be back home with us. Garryowen opened the score with a penalty for not rolling away and then got another for offside, later in the half we got a successful penalty for not rolling but with another added, Garryowen went in 3 – 9 at half time.
We upped the pace again after a slight diminution in the latter part of the first half and put enduring pressure on, winning a ball from their extremely strong lineout and we continued to move the ball, wide and close in, with pick and drive at which we have become highly proficient, and were rewarded when a ball came to Mark Sexton who found the space made a gap and powered in close in. Sadly we missed the conversion and soon after a free drop goal attempt leading to a penalty, which we also failed to convert, to put us ahead so we were 8 – 9 and sucking air with ease. It seemed as though time gave us the slip for it was suddenly the last few minutes. The team realised this and after a short good spell for the opposition, we got down near their line with the ball and our pick and go game went into over drive, we were working towards their line; it was almost time we saw the movements of our kickers and on we went pick and drive, pick and drive, runners fanning out. The whistle went, knock on. It was over.
Difficult to relate the terrible disappointment felt by all Marys followers, but as ever we are a sporting club and led by president and vice and junior vice presidents we socialised and smiled (maybe a little ruefully and with an odd involuntary shake of the head) and took a draught. Our president, with dignity, presented the Shay Deering trophy to Garryowen and was, as ever, gracious. The team stood up like men during the game and did likewise afterwards. All is not lost we can still make the top four however, we do need to win the remaining four games and with a couple of bonus points on the way, but do not underestimate this squad it is strong and resolute and all will give it everything. You must admit that they are giving you a wonderful ride in this odyssey so now give even more back and follow every game to every lane and make your presence felt and we will prevail all together. Next game is at home to Galwegians Saturday 28th March.
15 B Lynn, 14 C Donohue, 13 P Brophy (Capt), 12 M Sexton, 11 D Fanning, 10 S Mc Carthy, 9 C Mc Phillips, 8 K Sheahan, 7 H Hogan, 6 P Nash, 5 R Copeland, 4 G Logan, 3 Rob Sweeney (K Carroll 72 mins), Richie Sweeney, 1 R Murphy.
St Mary’s College RFC V Garryowen FC
17th January 2008. Abandoned at Half Time
Half a league, half a league, half a league onward, into the valley of death rode the six hundred.
Of course it would have been just over half the league, it was only half a game and there were only 15 but they acted as though they were 600 and that their heroics should be disdained as they were, seems more than cruel. JB Sweeney said after the game, “the best performance ever” and from JB that is high praise. Certainly no one could argue that it was not up with the great performances over many years and the team showed, as Peter Smyth has said that this is the best squad since 2000, when we won the AIL. Strangely, the appalling weather and poor ground conditions had hardly altered, when at half time Referee Mc Dowell, who was doing a fine job, appeared to have succumbed to Garryowen pressure to abandon the game; they having readily agreed for it to continue to completion earlier in the game. It is hard to blame them for wanting to call it a day for they were being outclassed out played and out braved in every way and it was inevitable had the game been allowed to continue that St Marys would have won handsomely. However that was not to be and in the Mary’s dressing room the eyes looking out from the mud minstrel faces told the pain of injustice that was felt by the team at the stoppage. One other thing that was clear was their confidence and determination to win the re-fixed game, whenever it may be.
The first half started with Marys playing directly into a grinding gale which shook the poplars and screamed through the cypresses while it whipped up the drenching rain. It was clear straight away that this was going to be particular for the home side, for possession was paramount with a hunger that was obvious. The game was notable in the way that the distinctions between St Mary’s forwards and backs were minimal with both sets carrying and both sets rucking, tackling and chasing relentlessly. In the forty minutes Marys had over 90% possession and when Garryowen did have the ball the tackling and desire for retrieval were immense. Many older members are a little derisive of modern players dropping a ball that is made to stick, but yesterday with a coating of mud on the ball and frozen hands the handling had to be admired as hardly a ball went to ground from the home side. It is difficult to credit how they kept up the pace and intensity with the storm in their faces and Garryowen trying all their Munster might to convert their advantage. They came in waves, they came in surges and we drove them back with a vehemence and we went at them in twos and threes and backed up ones, firstly, it was Conor Mc Inerney making metres, the Sweeneys were like twin tornadoes, Ruairi Murphy grew in size, power and pride as he stood toe to toe with all who dared, Large Logie loved it as he carried half a pack on his back; he has not played better ever and the back row of Paul Nash, Hugh Hogan and Kevin Sheahan, was incredible, with one of them always at the ball or on the ground hunting like pernicious predators. To be a half back on a day like it was you needed at least to have a death wish and so Matt D’Arcy hunted hustled and harried in the most effective of ways and his partner, Jonno Sexton, who patently should have been in London showed his love of Marys and his brilliant bravery as he took on ball with impunity, tackled with ferocity while wisely controlling the tempo of the game, as he used wonderful little wiles to out wit and gain advantage. The two Conors stood up or went down as required they were to be found in rucks, on wings, in attack and in cover, while working in great harmony with Darragh and Ronan the two big wingers who were admirable in handling, fielding, running and tackling and all brought together by composed Shaun who helped vitally to bring it all together. Once again the half drowned but happy crowd was playing its part with Mary, Marys Marys!
Although a great deal of the work was done in our own half, due to the elements, we had several near scoring chances just thwarted and except for a few drives by the Garryowen back row they never threatened our line, so it is was real pity that this can only be a story of half a game; but we will be back.
In the club house after the game there was a feeling in most Mary’s members of emptiness and of having been cheated, but also of great pride in their team and management and also optimism for the rest of the season. Earlier at the lunch there was a terrific turn out with returning member from USA, Charlie Mullaney looking like he could turn out at 15 and there was a big presence of past presidents, with the incorrigible Mattie Jones slagging all in sight and Peter Mc Laughlin, one of our trustees, in the dubious company of Dermot (Barney) Barnewell, Fr Flavin our Patron was present and gave out the grace, while Johnny Moloney was with his brother Dave; another past president, Dr Ossie Fogarty, was a guest of honour of the president, in recognition of all he does for the club. The close links with Garryowen were evident with many friends meeting and dual members like popular Steve Bradshaw Snr there. Introduced by Hon Secretary John Cunningham, President Quinn gave a really amusing and relaxed speech and noted with joy that another trustee and past president, John Doddy who has been a doyen of the club for very many years, was there in spite of having had a serious illness and operation at Christmas, John is truly remarkable in his attitude. This of course has always been John’s way, as when president he refused to accept that the centenary bar could not be completed, he secured the funding and went ahead and got it done. Everyone was delighted to see him so well and wish him the very best, of course he continues to represent us outstandingly at the Leinster Branch where he is extremely highly regarded and is chairman of the Development Committee. It was also great to see John Boyle, another who has done a great deal for the club over the years, back after a long illness.
Liz O’Donnell gave the guest speech and was very entertaining, revealing herself to be a true Limerick Munster woman, thanked Eoin for the invitation and junior vice president Ronnie Mc Brien for his help and friendship over many years. Needless to say our faithful sponsors, Investec, Topline, Tulfaris House Country Hotel, Aspects Systems and World Spreads were well represented. It all started so well.
We will prevail.
Team 15 S Mc Carthy, 14 R Doherty, 13 C MC Phillips, 12 C Donohoe, 11 D Fanning, 10 J Sexton, 9 M D’Arcy, 8 K Sheahan, 7 H Hogan, 6 P Nash, 5 C Mc Inerney, 4 G Logan, 3 Robert Sweeney, (Capt), 2 Richie Sweeney, 1 R Murphy.