16.01.2010 1st XV v Garryowen (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V Garryowen RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 16th January 2010-01-17
Having had Christmas and snow and cancellations and rain, and igloos and snowmen built at the club, there was great anticipation for this game. On a mild bright day the pitch had a lot of water lying on it in the morning so a group of volunteers, including, the president, Niall Rynne, John Carvill, David Donohue, Brian Grimson, Frank Kennedy, Patrick Crawford, Darragh Coleman and groundsman Frank Doyle, worked hard with forks to help drain the water so the game could get underway on schedule. One could almost feel spring in the air and there appeared to be spring in the steps of many of those who came to enjoy the game.
Before the game there was an enjoyable well attended lunch when president Rynne gave a very warming and entertaining address and magnanimously welcomed Garryowen (with Shay looking on safely from his perch on the counter). He also thanked the sponsors and paid a special tribute to the late Jim Maguire, who had photographed a great many games and teams since 1948 and had, before his death presented to the club, through archivist Matt Gilsenan, a complete collection. This now has been, through the work of Matt, Vinno Mc Govern, Liam Birkett and John Kinahan, scanned and digitally processed for the club website, where all the photos are accessible; a marvellous photographic historical record. It is generous persons like Jim who make club rugby possible and without the clubs, which are the foundation of Irish rugby, there would be no success for Leinster or Ulster, Munster or Connacht or indeed Ireland.
Sadly, this was a somewhat lethargic performance with many signs of the enforced lay off. In retrospect, it may have been better to have played a basic safety game, however, admirably that is not in the nature of this team and so understandably many passes failed, moves broke down and balls were lost. On the other hand Garryowen played to their strengths, they held on to the ball well, they kicked astutely and they had a very tough defence; it has to be admitted they deserved their win, although there was little between the teams and it was always a tight game.
Our pack lacked real sharpness and the positive carrying, offloading and aggressive rucking of recent games was not evident, although the backrow defended well, Gareth Logan had a strong game when he came on early in the second half and Richie Sweeney was ever to the fore, he put in a hard consistent performance, and was my man of the match. Behind the scrum there was little chance to shine although the wingers worked hard, as did Stuart O’Flanagan at fullback, and his kicking was very good.
It is vital not to brood nor fear over this game, all teams have off days and the circumstances were such to make it understandable. The AIL league Division 1 A is tough medium in which to compete and at second we are still well placed. Of course, we should strive not to let this happen too often.
Playing with the light wind and slight hill Garryowen put on early pressure and after seven minutes Conor Murray their scrum half converted a penalty. They used the wind well and we had to run or kick out of defence often, after 18 minutes one such effort to clear with kick under our posts, at the road end, was blocked down and Garryowen pounced to score a converted try and we found ourselves in deficit by 0 to 10. Stuart converted a fine penalty on 22 minutes to keep us in touch, but when there was 22 minutes gone they landed another penalty and it was 3 – 13 and when we were pulled up for an idiopathic crossing on half time they made it 3 -16.
The second half commenced better for us as we tried to use the breeze and we put some pressure on the visitors and came close. After ten minutes, Gavin Dunne came on for Stuart and Logie came on for Steve Bradshaw. Later on Colm Mc Mahon replaced Kevin Carroll, Gavin Hickie Richie Sweeney and Joe Burns swapped with Cormac Quinn. It was 15 minutes when Gavin made it 6 – 16 with a successful penalty and on 25 minutes he added another from an off side offence. We were now at least in losing bonus point territory and nearing the end we made a great effort and kept them pinned on their line. With the last play of the game they got a turn over and tried to clear their lines but captain, Hugh Hogan, was up very sharply and blocked the kick and Hugh dived on the ball in the Carvill Corner. Every one stood still and waited as Gavin set himself up to take the conversion kick and although he hit it well it was just outside the left upright and they had held out to win by two points. It was 14 – 16. At least we got a losing bonus point.
Next week we have a visit to make to Dolphin in Cork. Needless to say, it will be a tough assignment but we have the tools to do the job and the spirit to ensure it is done, so we must believe in every way. It is very good to have Director of Rugby Peter Smyth back fully and no doubt, he and Ciaran Potts and Shaun Mc Carthy, will be tuning the team engine for top performance. The team has a vital bond with the supporters and so it is important that everyone makes a special effort to make the trip. It is the last out of town game this season, so you are all really needed and remember every extra game won brings us nearer to that top three play off spot.
Team: - 15 S O’Flanagan (G Dunne), 14 R Doherty, 13 S Grissing, 12 P Brophy, 11 D Fanning, 10 S Mc Carthy, 9 C Quinn (J Burns), 8 H Hogan (Capt), 7 B O’Flanagan, 6 P Nash, 5 R Copeland, 4 S Bradshaw (G Logan), 3 J Mc Grath, 2 R Sweeney (G Hickie), 1 K Carroll (C Mc Mahon).