10.04.2010 1st XV v Clontarf (A)
Clontarf FC V St Mary’s College RFC
Castle Avenue, Saturday 10th April 2010.
AIL Division 1 A
Mission accomplished and a home semi-final achieved after the end of the league campaign proper. It may not have been beautiful throughout, but the game was played con brio and the second half was frequently enjoyable. Clontarf are redoubtable fighters, they never stopped playing and indeed, for a good period of the first half they had most of the possession; however, our defence was committed and commendable. During one spell in the second half when our concentration levels dropped, they played with more purpose than we did and reaped their due harvest. All at St Marys will be sad to see them step back to Section 1 B next season. For us there was joy and satisfaction and President Niall Rynne had a deserved eumorphous smile. Peter Smyth, Ciaran Potts and Shaun Mc Carthy can feel proud of their achievement in getting their team to the first semi final in ten years as indeed can hard working manager Terry Tierney and assistants Ian Grimson and David Lyons. Special mention must be made of Ian Bloomer who has acted as fourth official throughout the campaign; and has acted with reliable authority and impartiality and has been a fine ambassador for St Marys in his generous post match social entertainment of all referees throughout the season.
The team, although competent and competitive, seemed to play within itself today, but that said, did all that was required to achieve the desired result. Darragh Fanning, with a slight hamstring strain was rested, as a precaution and Stuart O’Flanagan stood in for him and did very well. Behind the scrum, Conor Mc Phillips and Gavin Dunne were particularly prominent while in the pack, Paul Nash and skipper Hugh Hogan, stood out, with Hugh busy all game and he was my man of the match. It was good to see that all those on the bench got fair opportunity and all did well, with Gareth Logan making a significant contribution when he came on.
It has been a marvellous campaign and now we must prepare for a challenging semi final, next Saturday at Templeville Road (Live on RTE TV), against Old Belvedere (2.05 PM not 2.30 PM) and we are in good heart and shape for that encounter, except that, that outstanding player and last season’s captain, Phillip Brophy, will be out for the rest of the season having broken his hand on Saturday, while scoring a fine try. He has had some terrible luck with injuries over the past few seasons and everyone will sympathise with him and wish him well. He has contributed wonderfully during the season. He will be a major loss.
The first half was a little staccato and Clontarf, playing into stiff breeze on a most clement afternoon, had more of the possession, but after ten minutes, Gavin Dunne struck a fine penalty and gave us a 0- 3 lead. On 20 minutes, their 13, Darragh O’Shea, dropped a goal. Coming near to the end of the half we stepped up the pace and started putting together phases of play and almost on half time we had a first-rate move when Jack Mc Grath charged hard up the middle like a rumbustious rhino, with Paul Nash at his shoulder. The ball was taken on, and after three phases, was moved through fast hands right to left and it found big Damian Hall out on the touchline, he showed skill and pace as he powered through the defence to score in the corner. So at half time it was 3 – 8.
The second half saw an improvement in St Mary’s set pieces, with the scrum gaining ascendancy; and overall the intensity of the game increased. After seven minutes, Conor Mc Phillips made a dazzling forty metre break, then fast ball gave Stephen Grissing, who is now playing really well, the chance for the half break, the ball was blocked from the pass, but we retrieved it, and it came back again to Stephen who accelerated and dived over in the corner. It was 3 – 15, then on 11 minutes after two drives, Conor skipped a tackle and gave the ball to Richard Sweeney who took it on and when taken down got it back fast, Conor delivered to Mark Sexton who made a delightful break to skim over and Gavin converted, it was 3 – 22. Just on 14 minutes Shaun picked up a loose ball made ground, gave a nice ball to Phillip Brophy, now on, and he cut inside stepped a man and flew in for a fine try, again converted by Gavin. It was now 3 – 29. With that lead, it would be hypercritical to complain about the drop in concentration levels by Marys. Clontarf increased their level, they had several phases before breaching our defence and it was 10 – 29 on 19 minutes. When there was 32 minutes on the clock, after a scrum they dived over to score again and make it 17 – 29. Almost immediately afterwards Gavin blocked a clearance kick and controlled the bouncing ball well to dive over so it was 17 – 36. Clontarf scored another converted try before Gavin, who had a great day out, converted a long-range kick and it ended 24 – 39.
Team: - 15 G Dunne, 14 R Doherty, 13 S Grissing, 12 M Sexton (P Brophy), 11 S O’Flanagan, 10 S Mc Carthy, 9 C Mc Phillips (C Quinn), 8 H Hogan (Capt), 7 P Nash, 6 D Hall, 5 R Copeland (G Logan), 4 S Bradshaw, 3 Robert Sweeney (C Mc Mahon), 2 Richard Sweeney (D Kilbride), 1 J Mc Grath