24.10.2009 1st XV v Garryowen (A)
Garryowen FC V St Mary’s College RFC
24th October 2009.
What a good response by all to the president’s request for support at this important fixture, with circa 100 making the trip on a wet, windy and inhospitable day when, due to the Bank Holiday, the roads were crowded. The team responded too and did all that was asked of them and won in the end. It was a close game played in good spirit throughout and we got a modicum of luck but this was by no means ladronism, in fact we were the better side; a point that showed when in the first half, but for a fickle bounce, the once again excellent Darragh Fanning would have scored a try.
Having gone three games against top teams and won all three we are rightly gaining confidence and we have shown that we have the depth of talent throughout the squad. This was a significant win and it always feels good to take dear Shay back home.
Photo on IRFU site of Hugh and Rynner receiving Shay
Garryowen had a useful pack with a fair scrum and they worked hard throughout. In the first half, when playing with a strong diagonal wind they made reasonable use of it to keep us mainly in defensive mode, but their error count was high and they seldom looked like crossing our line. It has to be admitted that over the game, they missed a few good opportunities to convert penalties and in fact had one effort come back off the post. Our defensive game was very good, our lineout was varied and secure, with Richard Sweeney, who gave a strong performance, was at his most accurate. Our rucking and offloading were reassuring and maul defence strong. On occasions our attacking backline lacked structure and found it hard to gain space or fluidity, but conditions played a part in this, as no doubt did the enforced changes. In the second half our kicking game was somewhat awry and the general urgency dropped off.
Skipper Hugh Hogan took some lovely balls in the lineout, protected the back of the scrum and broke well, he led from the front and was part of a raffish backrow which had Paul Nash in battling form. From the start when he shunted a ruck to the end when he cleverly shielded the ball, he never stopped working, also taking some fine lineout ball, tackling and carrying like a barraging bison and supporting play persistently. He slipped in just ahead of Hugh and Gavin Dunne as man of the match. Gavin played with cool authority, he dealt with all that was thrown or blown at him in the first half, showed good positional sense, kicked astutely to gain best benefit and in the second half he took advantage of any ball he got and put us in position and finally he was consummately composed for his well struck winning drop goal.
As the first half started the expectancy was high and the atmosphere taut, we dealt well with the kick off and held on to the ball with confidence. For the first nine minutes we kept them under pressure and when they sinned in the lineout Gavin struck the ensuing penalty from 35 metres, against the erratic wind with conviction and saw the ball go true and it was 0 – 3. Garryowen mounted several attacks but poor handling and firm defence saw them founder. We had come close on a few occasions and never closer than when Darragh put them under severe pressure and then won a chase to the ball, kicking with the side of his boot to keep it in and he made it to it first, but unfortunately it held up 10 centimetres short and he had to try to pick under pressure and we lost out. So at half time it was 0– 3 and most felt it was looking propitious for Marys.
The second half did not fulfil its promise and was rather flat excepting during the latter ten minutes. We made some changes on 55 minutes with Colm Mc Mahon coming on for the injured Robert Sweeney and getting strongly involved and Rob Hudson came on in the centre and was impressive, with several telling hits and a couple of good carries. In the final quarter the pace increased, when they had a number of mauls from lineouts near our line, these we defended well and they had a couple of near misses with penalties and outhalf Hurley converted one to even matters, then we put in an urgent last five minutes when we got down near their line and patiently held the ball, rucking and driving off the sides. Robin Copeland had an exciting break, running through several defenders before being stopped short. We continued the pressure and, then we manoeuvred into position for a chance of a drop goal, it was agonising as we slowly got into position and waited, in hope and fear with memories of St Patrick’s day in our minds, then the ball appeared, Joe took it and swept it out to Gavin going right, he coolly caught, steadied and struck, we could see the marauders, four of them hurtling out towards him arms up, leaping as he struck, a mini-second of fear and then it sailed majestically through the posts; it was 40 minutes, only a matter of seconds to wait for the final whistle. It may not have been a wonderful game, but it meant a great deal to all present, as was obvious as the squad belted out “We are Mary’s boys” from the pitch and the congregation joined in with Rynner glowing happily and leading the anthem.
There was happy night to be had and a feeling of justice having been done. Next Saturday we face unbeaten Dolphin, who beat us last year so we will have to be at our best and for that to happen again the team needs you all to be there and in haute voix
Team :- 15 G Dunne, 14 C Mc Phillips, 13 S Grissing, 12 M Sexton (R Hudson), 11 D Fanning, 10 S Mc Carthy, 9 J Burns, 8 H Hogan (Capt), 7 P Nash, 6 D Hall, 5 R Copeland, 4 G Logan, 3 Robert Sweeney (C Mc Mahon), 2 Richard Sweeney, 1 J Mc Grath.