24.01.2009 1st XV v Old Belvedere (A)
Old Belvedere RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
24th January 2009
Scoring three tries to none and being unfortunate not to get the bonus point try when Richie Sweeney found the line but was adjudged to have been held up, is not a bad way to respond to last week’s upsetting events. Indeed the tries were top class, as was a lot of our play against a well coached side, with a big pack, which did lack a little in ambition and had a ponderous mid field. Simon Keogh back from Harlequins and now with Belvo on the wing is a fine player and did pose a strong threat and they had a few opportunities to score but our cover in the guise of Hugh Hogan, Richie Sweeney and Jonno Sexton denied them their three best chances, with superb cover tackles. Our retention of the ball, was again admirable and our rucking strong, however, we may have kicked a little too often and sometimes not well, especially as our running game was superb with all the backline looking potent and supported by a backrow which is showing real class and hunger now. Indeed Hugh Hogan shaded man of the match with incessant carrying, covering and foraging. However, Kevin Sheahan and Paul Nash were only just behind. In fact once again the entire pack was excellent and our lineouts were secure. Our scrums were erratic on occasions. Behind the scrum Matt D’Arcy was at his brilliant best, full of pace, endeavour and achievement, scoring two tries and Michael Cheika, there to view, must have been regretting his obvious error in not retaining him last season. The club international selectors must also see many of our eligible players as being strong contenders. In fact it has just been announced that Rob Sweeney, Matt Duggan, Paul Nash, Hugh Hogan, Matt Darcy, Conor Donohoe and Philip Brophy are all in the squad for the first club international game against the English Counties on 27th February, this is great news and well deserved, although Darragh Fanning will be disappointed not to be included.
After the disappointment and acidity of last week, there was a certain tentativeness in the demeanour of the supporters congregating at Anglesea Road before the game. A little group of regulars stood at the end of the terrace hopeful but cautious. Fr Redmond was chatting with Arthur Costello, George Cree, Dennis Kelleher, Springer, Paul Sheeran, Spike, John Doddy, Barney and Lord John Hussey when they were joined by John Pyne, Brian and Michael Corrigan, Eamonn Mc Hale, John Gilsenan and Kevin Conboy, who had been at the abbreviated but enjoyable lunch (not a packed-lunch, due to Belvo’s annual dinner due later in the evening) and all were positive about the game. The weather too was more positive staying dry for the game and although the pitch was a little heavy it was not in bad condition.
Well if the supporters were a little tentative the players did not share the feeling for the started into the game at tremendous tempo and within the first minute had scored a top class try when Darragh Fanning who is playing excellent rugby this season and is a real threat to any team, ran back a ball from deep, he beat three men with power and when tackled near their ten metres line, placed the ball which was quickly rucked and vigilant Matt D’Arcy whizzed around the blind side and fairly zoomed along the touch line beating all to the line and we were 0- 5 up. Within four minutes we had scored a second when in our own half Conor Mc Phillips who had a fine game cleaved through the centre straightened and used his super celerity to leave the defence in his wake, then passed inside to Shaun who transferred to Matt and thence the ball reached Ronan Doherty, now getting back to his best, who continued at the same high pace towards the corner and even the frantic efforts of the Belvo cover failed to stop him and he scored in the corner, Jonno converted and it was 0 – 12. Belvo did get a successful penalty on 11 minutes and another on 32 minutes at which stage our tempo had dropped and our retention game altered slightly. We did have a good driving attack which led to Richie Sweeney breaking a number of tackles and forcing his way over in the corner only to have the referee, with advice from the touch judge that it was held up, disallow the try. We have a photo, courtesy of Aoife, which shows Richie grounding the ball. Just before half time Jonno added three more points with a well struck penalty and so it was 6 – 15 going into the break.
The second half continued as the first half with most of the good attacking plays made by Marys, although with ten minutes passed, Belvo got a penalty for off side in the centre of the pitch which they converted to bring the score to 9 – 15. Jonno Sexton had to withdraw with a bruised hip, Barry Lynn replacing him at full back and Shaun Mc Carthy stepping into the outhalf slot and we made several other changes during the half. A half hour saw us with a scrum under their posts, after a sustained period of pressure, a classical 8, 9 move followed, with Kevin Sheahan breaking strongly to the right from the scrum and Matt D taking the ball through the gap to the line with his impressive acceleration to score his second try, this one converted and although they tried very hard to get aback to bonus point point, they never really looked as though they would; and it ended 9 – 20.
Next Saturday we are returning to the Killing Fields to face Young Munster for the first time in several years and most will recall the days of Jemmo and Pottsy and Popey in the shuddering shunts with the Clohessys and Ger Earls et al. There is a place where your support is needed if ever and then with a successful trip over we can all come back happily to Templeville Road for our club dinner. So make the effort, be part of the odyssey as it continues and grows.
Team:- 15 S Mc Carthy, 14 R Doherty, 13 C Mc Phillips, 12 C Donohoe, 11 D Fanning, 10 J Sexton (B Lynn75mins), 9 M D’Arcy, 8 K Sheahan, 7 H Hogan, 6 P Nash, 5 C Mc Inerney, 4 G Logan (E Keane 60 mins), 3 Robert Sweeney (Capt), 2 Richie Sweeney (D Kilbride 70mins), 1 R Murphy (J Mc Grath 50 mins).