17.04.2010 1st XV v Old Belvedere (H)
St Mary’s College RFRC V Old Belvedere RFC
17th April 2010.
With the ashes of volcanoes high above and the fear of the ashes of dreams being cast on the ground, there was considerable crackle in the air before this semi-final. There had been feverish preparations all week with President Niall Rynne working non stop and Marie and Tony in close attendance, while out on the pitch the players, especially captain Hugh Hogan and Mark Sexton were helping John Carvill water the pitch, using the new pump that Brian (Spike) Fanning had acquired and set up for the job and it all worked out so well with the clubhouse looking pristine and the pitch in good condition.
Everyone knew, after LSLC final, that it would be tough and they were savant, it was tough and in the first half particularly it was fraught on occasions, with Belvo having plentiful possession and now and then breaking our first line, especially around the edges. However, the overall vital factors were the unquenchable spirit, bravery and resilience of the Marys team and these ensured that every time we fell behind we raised the game’s intensity and pace to get back again. Behind the scrum, generally, we looked better equipped and especially in the midfield where Mark Sexton and Stephen Grissing caused them serious problems. It was a pity, that there was controversy over the conversion kick of Mark’s try, but on the other hand the dynamic Darragh Fanning had appeared to have scored a try, which was adjudged to have been held up. There was a gargantuan struggle between the packs, with both lineouts working well and scrums avidly contended; and it was only later that, our slightly superior control and ball retention, edged it for us. The game was played in the most sporting manner, on a day for beach volleyball, and the atmosphere off field was festival. There were some jingling jousts, as in front and back rows and some outstanding performances from both teams, including from the faultless Gavin Dunne who was rightly acclaimed man of the match. Marvellous it was to see so many of our former and current internationals there, like Denis Hickie Snr., Rodney O’Donnell, Paul Dean, Vinnie Cunningham, Conor Mc Guinness, Victor Costello, Peter Mc Kenna and Malcolm O’Kelly and Shane Jennings and Jonathan Sexton; also there, recent team mates of the players, Conor Mc Inerney and Kevin Sheahan.
Now we must win the AIL and everyone is waiting impatiently for 8th May in Athlone for the final against Cork Con. Of course, it will be hard, but most things worth achieving are hard to achieve and there is good evidence to give good confidence.
With the sun dancing on the grass and the teams panurgic, the first half started and nervousness was apparent, with some dropped balls and a near break away try for Belvo in the first minute when credit must go to Shaun Mc Carthy, who had a fine partnership with Conor Mc Phillips, for turning and getting back to catch their Seven, Risdon, three metres out. Then we were penalised and Andy Dunne their Ten, who was missed when he had to retire before half time, collecting the three points but on 9 minutes our Gavin Dunne returned the compliment so it was 3- 3 and before the hectic, if a little uncontrolled, first half was over Gavin had added two more penalties and so we went in at the break ahead 9 – 3.
The second half started with Belvo again forcing the pace, looking dangerous and in the first, and fourth minutes they added two penalties, before a good try in the eight minute to make the score 9 – 16. This Marys team, mainly home grown, are full of courage and confidence and at this stage, led by their intrepid captain Hugh Hogan, they started to work and rise the pace to searing intensity and Rynner was helping with “Marys, Marys, Marys” on the packed terrace. There were some wonderful interplays and then after continuous pressure on the 17th minute the ball went right to left from a ruck near the line and Mark Sexton spotted an inch and used his pace and strength to squeeze in for a very fine try to which Gavin added two points to bring us level; and then when playing penalty advantage on 21 minutes, he hit a top class drop goal to put us ahead again; it was 19 – 16. Belvo were not beaten yet and they hit back as the tempo still burned and on 32 minutes their Nine, Keane, saw a gap at the edge of the ruck on the 22 and flew in for a try, which they converted. But we were not finished either and set siege to Belvo’s line, eventually Stephen Grissing getting just reward, when he went in for an unconverted try. Belvo to their immense credit tried all they could to get back, but Marys finished the stronger and so it is on to Athlone for unfinished business. Do not forget 8thMay.
Team: - 15 G Dunne, 14 R Doherty, 13 S Grissing, 12 M Sexton (C Donohue 35 Blood), 11 D Fanning, 10 S Mc Carthy, 9 C Mc Phillips, 8 H Hogan (Capt), 7 P Nash, 6 D Hall (B O’Flanagan 70), 5 R Copeland, 4 G Logan (S Bradshaw 60), 3 Robert Sweeney, 2 Richard Sweeney (G Hickie 78), 1 J Mc Grath.