12.12.2009 1st XV v Cork Constitution (A)
Cork Constitution FC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 12th December 2009
At the end of the game today we were relieved to have got the losing bonus point and remain top of the league and so can have a happy Christmas. It was generally agreed that we were a little fortunate to gain that point, Cork Con are a good side, as they have been over the past few years, on the other hand for the first 25 minutes we had almost all the possession and, taking up where we left off last week, we played with great pace, width and conviction. We did not cross the line due to their fine defence and being slightly shy of final support. We did score two penalties and the set pieces were strong and we stole two lineouts during that period. Stephen Grissing grows in confidence each game and was a real pressure player for us today. The forwards competed hard against strong opposition, with Robert Sweeney once again working particularly hard all game, scrummaging well and carrying with intent, he was our man of the match. The rest of the pack worked hard and mention must be made of David Kilbride who had a good game today. He is exceptionally dedicated and ever ready to answer the call and never lets the team down; an outstanding squad member. For a good part of the second half we were outplayed by a strong well organised Con team with a good pack, a fine young scrumhalf, Duncan Williams, and they are strong out wide, their handling did let them down on occasions. It is good to be able to relate that in the last ten minutes we regained composure and showed admirable determination to get back into the game and garner the vital losing bonus point.
As mentioned, the first half started well for us and indeed after only a minute when Darragh put heavy pressure on them and forced the penalty, Gavin Dunne, who kicked well today, converted a penalty and repeated the feat three minutes later to give confidence and fire to the team, which for a prolonged period, won ball, ran good lines and recycled well, however we could not break down their defence, which was colytic. It was 25 minutes before they had a position in the Marys 22 but then they put on real pressure and had a scrum on our line; we showed superb character by turning their scrum and winning the ball to relieve the pressure. However for the rest of the half it was Con who pressed and just on 40 minutes they converted a penalty so it ended the half 3 – 6.
The second half saw Con put on more pressure while our defence was for long periods impenetrable, however, after 14 minutes they had a attacking scrum on our line once again followed by a series of pick and drives, leading eventually to their getting over the line and converting, to make it 10 – 6; on 18 minutes with another penalty they made it 13 – 6. They increased their pressure and twice came close to breaching our defence, once we were caught in possession on the line and robbed of the ball, although we managed to hold up the man diving over. However they then added a drop goal, 16 – 6, which saw us in danger of not getting the bonus point. This acted as a spur and drawing on their resolve our lads put in a great effort and got up to their 22, Robert Sweeney made a bulling charge for the line and when just held short, a penalty was conceded and Stuart O’Flanagan, who had come on for Gavin, coolly converted it to get us back to the bonus point territory. All further efforts to get closer were in vain and the game ended 16 – 9.
Post mortems: - Although disappointed with the result, both players and supporters were pleased to remain top of the league after the completed first round of games in AIL Division 1 A. To reflect, we went to Limerick three times and won twice, against Shannon (in Thomond Park) and Garryowen, we beat Clontarf, Dolphin and Blackrock at home. UL Bohs and Con were both in top form when we played them away and we were ever competitive. We have drawn on our large squad and so most are now battle hardened and, with the break over Christmas giving time for restorative recuperation, there is every good reason to face the second part of the league with optimism. The new format of the league has proven to be highly competitive and sporting, with almost no foul or violent play. It has brought the best out of young players and added a much needed new dynamic and hope to domestic rugby. The early preparation made by the coaching and management teams has been excellent and been vital to the success so far. Peter Smyth, as ever, developed meticulous and insightful programmes and great credit must be given also to Ciaran Potts, with the help of Shaun Mc Carthy, for delivering a high quality product during Peter’s sadly enforced temporary absence. These three work closely and synergistically together and having that team restored for the remainder of the league will give further reason to be optimistic. Several St Marys players have shown themselves to be outstanding in this new elevated league stratum and our team has been widely admired. They comprise a group of particularly fine young men. The captain, Hugh Hogan, has been supreme, ably supported by a talented pack, including Robin Copeland (Rugby’s George Best) and the backs have looked class on occasions, with Darragh Fanning consistently outstanding and Phillip Brophy and Stephen Grissing now returning to full talented fitness. If we continue to play as we have done the team can only enjoy the season (the reason for playing rugby) and give themselves every chance of success. There is a long hard way to go, starting again on 9th January 2010, with many potential difficulties on the way, but they are well prepared for it.
The unflagging enthusiastic support and happy persona of President Niall Rynne have no doubt also been an asset to the team as they are to the entire club which is revelling in the successes of all the teams so far. There is a warm, happy, friendly atmosphere all round which has been remarked on by many visitors. He is most popular too with his peer Leinster Presidents. Rynner has an exceedingly active and energetic committee who are working hard and club administrator, Marie Hammond, is also highly efficient and dedicated, as is bar manager Tony Curran. So all said things augur well for the remainder of the season and beyond.
Rynner had brought a flying column of alickadoos with him to Cork the evening before the game to reconnoitre the ground and enjoy pre Christmas sociability. Going back to early AIL days the president has been supported and toasted by the advance party and so that tradition was honoured by the group, with Joe Fanagan, JB Sweeney, Jr VP John Gilsenan, Eoin Quinn, Spike Fanning, John Carvill, John Muldoon, John Pyne, Dave Donohue, David Mowlds and Brian Corrigan to the fore. They had a good night, and at Temple Hill the next day, were joined by the many dedicated supporters who regularly make the trips to the games. The work done in organising these trips is important and appreciated by the president. Deirdre Grimson, Eileen Fanning and Robin Bailey do a real service to the club.
So it remains only to wish the readers (all four) a great Christmas and holiday time and thank you for the constructive and/or critical comments on these reports, including the bit of fun with the Rynner Words of which there is only one today.
Team:- 15 Gavin Dunne (S O’Flanagan), 14 R Doherty, 13 S Grissing, 12 P Brophy, 11 D Fanning, 10 S Mc Carthy, J Burns, 8 H Hogan (Capt.), 7 P Nash, 6 D Hall, 5 R Copeland, 4 G Logan, 3 R Sweeney, 2 D Kilbride, 1 J Mc Grath (C Mc Mahon).