10.10.2009 1st XV Shannon (A)
Shannon RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
10th October 2009.
AIL Div 1 A
Being that Shannon are the AIL Division 1title holders and that they were playing at home in their newly refurbished and impressive Thomond Park, we must be gleeful to have come away with a well deserved win. Overall we were the better side by a significant margin and were better in almost all positions. Shannon has a reasonable team at best but we will all remember the many times we were repelled and left Limerick dejected although deserving of better. They did show a well organised defence and were by no means doromaniacal. We have a team now of high quality players who realise that they are high quality and have the know-how, determination and confidence to complete the job. The reasons we won were our superior concentration, confidence, patience and fitness. This was a strong, if not spectacular performance, however, for the greater part of the first half, although clearly a better team, we did make a few errors, of judgement, and in our kicking. As the game went on, our superiority became manifest although there always remained a possibility of Shannon tipping the scales, especially late in the second half and credit must be accorded to our men that they remained patient, brave and persistent.
Our forwards worked tirelessly, with set pieces being solid. Special reference to the front row must be made, for Richard Sweeney, at hooker, had been unwell all week and still put in a fine performance, the props Sean (Bisto) Treston, a very young man of great promise had a top class game at loose head, having been called in at the last minute, Jack Mc Grath being still out, out too was Robert Sweeney and Colm Mc Mahon then had to withdraw injured, while at tight head, Kevin (Chunky) Carroll, undoubtedly one of the most popular players in the club and a player who has worked steadfastly on his game over the past few years, scrummaged, tackled, carried and rucked all game and was deservedly Man of the Match. The rest of the pack worked hard too under the estimable leadership of Skipper Hugh Hogan and had Shannon under pressure in every facet of forward play.
The backline also looked more potent than the Shannon one, however we really needed to vary play more and use phases to narrow their defence, before moving the ball wide, to make full use of this superiority. Our halves were in control and Darragh again had the defence in near chaos, but after a threatening run mid first half, he was tackled slightly late, damaged his knee and was never comfortable afterwards.
Two notable differences between Shannon and St Marys today were; firstly, the superior fitness of our team, which was obvious from early in the second half and secondly the spirit and noise of our supporters, led by Rynner and Pyner, which far exceeded that of the larger Shannon group.
The game started on a lovely autumnal day of sun and light winds, and the early scrapping for ball and structure was still evident, when on five minutes Shaun was blatantly held back and Mr Black, (No not you Gordon) the referee, awarded a penalty out wide and Gavin Dunne coolly planted it. However, within a minute we kicked badly out of defence giving them opportunity to run back, this saw Bennett chip cleverly, gather and give, for Lawlor to run in for a try which Bennett converted, so it was 7 – 3. In fact a few minutes later we were under pressure again but they failed to profit, due to staggering tackle from Hugh and a knock on. After that we settled and worked hard and soon we were running at them wide and stretching them but we likewise failed to press home chances. We continued for the remainder of the half to cause them discomfort and the faithful on the penned terraces were starting to give voice with Marys, Marys and belief was rising. Score, 7 – 3.
The second half
The second half was only a few minutes old when once again we were awarded a penalty and Gavin who was kicking confidently put it over and we were a point behind and Rynner really got his troops going on the terraces and Shannon supporters were wilting under the barrage of Marys, Marys, Marys! Both teams missed drop goal attempts and then Bennett missed a reasonable penalty from 35 metres mid pitch and we sighed. Then we mounted several good attacks before Shaun put up a high ball, it fell just in front of the 22 and as it hovered a guided missile called Brophy was adjusting trajectory at Mk2, the ball was fielded and then he hit as an explosion and turned the man and the ball was won and we drove on, Large Logie, Nasher, Damien, and then Hugh and the ball came back, Joe, cool as ever, delivered and Shaun stroked, a click was heard as a Shannon hand touched the ball, but the direction remained and it soared through the posts and we were 7 – 9 and it was 8 minutes to go Shennen boys have resolve and they really did ratchet it and three minutes later they were on our line mauling and rolling and it was looking ominous, but Nasher’s reddish head was seen plunging into the depths and wrenching it free for a vital turn over and we cleared, we got penalty and Gavin took it, difficult enough under the circumstances, but he slotted it and it was now 7 – 12, but soon they were back and got a scrum under our posts, they had to go for the try; and then they were rucking, driving and carrying with terrible intent, but there was Logie, the birthday boy, so low he was grazing and he met them three times in a row and they were repelled, then we broke out and were on the attack again. We got a penalty in a fairly easy position. We could go for it and maybe deny them a bonus point, we could miss it and they might go the length of the field to win, we believed that “discretion is the better part of valour” and so the ball soared out of play and we were out of our selves with joy.
The satisfaction was clear in all quarters of Mary’s support and the players were physically sore but also satisfied and ready to enjoy a memorable, well deserved, Surprise 30th Birthday Party for Large Logie, arranged by his charming fiancé, Bronagh, in the club. Logie has been a marvellous player for our club and a dedicated and loyal member. He has successfully captained the J1s earlier and two years’ ago he captained his club, with distinction. No doubt everyone in the club wishes him the best and hopes he continues for several more years to play with his commitment and skill.
Next weekend we have the AIL AIB Cup, at home, V Bruff, another Limerick team that has been climbing steadily over the past few years. Little doubt it will be a competitive and entertaining game and will give chance to the management to re-introduce injury recovered players and some of the brightest on the brink players in addition to the core group and a chance for you to see and support them.
Team: - 15 G Dunne, 14 R Doherty, 13 P Brophy, 12 M Sexton (C Donohue), 11 D Fanning (S Grissing), 10 S Mc Carthy, 9 J Burns, 8 H Hogan (Capt.), 7 P Nash, 6 D Hall, 5 R Copeland, 4 G Logan, 3 K Carroll, 2 R Sweeney, 1 S Treston.