21.02.2009 1st XV v Blackrock (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V Blackrock College RFC
Saturday 21st February 2009
It seemed a long time since we had partaken of our much loved AIB AIL fare and it was good to have it back and to be able to report on a win that was crucial to our quest for the golden fleece of a top four place. Rock are a fine side with a big strong pack and a potent back line, they had the majority of possession and it has to be admitted that our win had some elements of fortune wrapped in it; but without some good fortune along the way, no team can prosper. Although ring rusty we showed an avidity that was all important and as a team we performed well. This was tough fair struggle, in which we stuck to our task admirably and took our chances. Our defence was a little short on width on occasions, twice in the first half their left wing, Monaghan, lost the ball with a good overlap and scoring chance, our scrum which started strongly had some difficulty later on which made it awkward for our 8/9 axis on occasions, however our lineouts were very good, with Conor Mc Inerney and Gareth Logan performing well here and in the loose and our rucking and continuity were excellent and there were signs of improvement in our kicking and closing. As a unit our forwards were competitive and resolute and our backs, when in possession, were threatening. It was a great boost to have captain, Phillip Brophy, back and he showed again that at full back, and as later at centre, he is a top quality player and leader. Also in the backs Darragh Fanning was once again outstanding, both in attack where he has become ruthless and potent and in defence where he is lethal, taking out their winger, in the second half, with a try saving tackle in the gym corner, that made even the spectators’ knees buckle. In the forwards the backrowers again were unremitting in their efforts and in that regard Hugh Hogan was metronomic in his tackling, he carried with purpose and showed superb awareness all game through; his high level performance made him my man of the match by a short head from Darragh.
Gathering in the bar before the sell out lunch (220) the faithful and hopeful were tentative, although friendly, and mixing well with the Rock Raiders and even Barney (T)rouble Barnewell. Dennis Kelleher had his snow shoes on, having travelled from Kildare he did not realise that the freeze up had ended, as he chatted to our Anglo Hibernophile John Ayling, while he thought another John,- Murphy-, was blowing kisses to him until he looked over his shoulder and spotted the object of Murph’s attentions a lovely young lady. Speaking of lovely young ladies it was good to note Gillian Smyth with Stephanie O’Kelly enjoying the ambiance. Our junior vice president Ronnie Mc Brien was spotted going out the door on his way to Ballycorus to support the high flying J2s in a vital game against Lansdowne. (see report)
Downstairs were assembled the patricians seated around the tables in anticipation; we had the most welcome generous main sponsors Investec Ireland with Michael Cullen and friends. Our other sponsors Topline, the Dean family and friends, and Tulfaris House, Paddy Kelly; Paul and Sinead Murphy of Abbeyfield Foods were also there and of course Michael Fanagan of Aspects Systems had a special gathering, including his mother and many relations and friends. One table (almost a coven) of Holy Ghost priests, most of whom had played at some stage at the club, organised by Fr Brian Mc Laughlin, former Provincial, were really having a great time and included Frs. Flavin, Redmond, Corry, Lehane, Fitzgerald, Gogan, O’Connell, Shanley and Geoghegan. Brian’s brother Peter (Scruffy) was absent, sulking as he did not qualify. Upstairs were the mere hoi polloi, although including a table of club doctors who freely administer at the games throughout the season, and led by Dr Esmond (Ossie) Fogarty and including the most affable Dave Ryan, and the quiet and referee loving Michael Farrell, with one dentist sneaking into the group Paul Davy. Past President/captain JB had an attentive platoon of Paddy Bolger and son, Paul, Bill Fagan, John Doddy, Spike Fanning, Brian Corrigan and his good friend Michael Brennan the mortician and two Rock stalwarts Noel Turley and Ray Commiskey, all tee-totallers.
After the lunch president Eoin Quinn welcomed Rock president Larry Macken and gave us a little about the relationship between sisters, Marys and Rock and the history of games won and lost including our first ever LSC win in 1958 under Joe Fanagan when we beat |Rock in the final. Quinner has become a consummate speaker and greatly entertained, as indeed did Larry in his reply and then Fred Cogley, one time rugby and cricket player and legendary rugby commentator, prompted by son Niall, gave a exposition on old days in Marys and some of the great Rock players such as Niall Brophy (no he did not call his son after him) and Paul Goff whom he had played against, overall it was really enjoyable presentation, very well received by all.
This was a day designed for rugby, with a dry pitch and sunny conditions, we started into the moderate wind and up the hill and showed good intent from the start, with Shan Mc Carthy, who had a fine game, moving the ball briskly and Vesi Rauluni, a Fijian dual status player, at 13 getting free on the break but unfortunately being quickly caught. After ten minutes or so they started to win more possession and we had to buckle down to some hard graft and were not found wanting with Nasher putting in the hits, Logie, Kevin Sheahan, Conor Mac, and the front row taking on ball and Hugh Hogan fighting for everything at every phase. Fitzpatrick, their Ten and a fine player, missed a reasonable penalty, but on 18 minutes a long range shot into the wind was converted by Shaun to give us the edge, although on 30 minutes Fitzpatrick did convert a penalty and it was evens. A few minutes before half time we forced our way up field and after sustained pressure on their line we put a penalty into touch in the terrace corner, took the lineout and drove on the ball hard, then Shaun called it blind and gave a neat ball to Darragh coming in hard, he beat two men and plunged irresistibly over the line in the corner. Shaun was just wide with the conversion effort and shortly after this the half ended at 8 – 3.
The second half continued as a high tempo competition and we continued to probe, when with ball, but found it hard to come by and had to fight a rear guard action for periods. At 45 minutes Conor Donohue replaced Mark Sexton at 12 and five minutes later Rauluni was replaced by Barry Lynn who went to 15 and Phillip Brophy slotted in comfortably to the 13 spot. Late in the half Kevin (Chunky) Carroll came on for Ruairi Murphy. On twelve minutes we gained a little more distance ahead of them with a well taken Shaun Mc Carthy penalty and we kept them repelled with tackle after tackle, including the body breaker from, Darragh. Shiner also was starting to get on the ball more and run us out of trouble with support from the ever present Hugh Hogan. Then on 34 minutes we got down, put pressure on and won our touch from a penalty just on the 22, Shaun’s hands again got a little space and Shiner made great ground and off loaded nicely to Conor Mc Inerney taking a good line as he burst through and ran in under the posts. Shaun’s conversion made it 18 – 3. Conor having taken a bang on the head in scoring, had to withdraw and was replaced by Louis Bourke. Rock unleashed an onslaught and we had to defend for the remainder of the game but it was at the very end, with pick and drive, that they broke our defence out wide and the kick being missed the game ended 18 – 8.
After the game there was a sense of quiet satisfaction at having won with commitment and grit and the Rock supporters like Niall Brophy, Ben Underwood, Dr Paddy (Juvo) Kelly, Noel Turley and Declan Gardner were all gracious and congratulatory. Peter was also quietly pleased to get a result after an impressive two weeks work beforehand. His dad, Jimmy, was also seen talking to Eugene Brophy and both had justly proud smiles on their faces. The team needed that performance and will be all set for the next game in two weeks time against Buccaneers in Athlone our first time not to play Buccs in Ballinasloe. We must not forget to support the J1s V Clontarf on Thursday in Templeville under lights at 8.00PM. A win will give them the title so come along and shout them over the winning line and congratulate the team and Rods, Patrick and Paul in addition to Peter et al. Also great news to relate in that for the Club International team V England on Friday, Hugh Hogan has been selected as captain, and our captain, Phillip Brophy, has been selected at inside centre.
The Team 15 P Brophy (Capt), 14 R Doherty, 13 V Rauluni, 12 M Sexton (C Donohue), 11 D Fanning, 10 S Mc Carthy, 9 P Mc Phillips, 8 K Sheahan, 7 H Hogan, 6 P Nash, 5 C Mc Inerney (L Bourke), 4 G Logan, 3 Rob Sweeney, 2 Richie Sweeney, R Murphy (K Carroll).