31.10.2009 1st XV v Dolphin (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V Dolphin RFC
31st October 2009.
Halloween and some tough nuts to crack today at Templeville Road, the autumnal feel was about as the supporters came in with the sun beaming and the ground in fine condition. The clubhouse was looking wonderfully festive after the artistry of the Hammonds, Marie and John who had ghoulies and ghosties and long leggedy beasties everywhere and pumpkins and a few slimy characters and no I do not mean you. Today, Rynner had a successful innovation in having the starters in the bar and then when everyone got down to the hall there was lots of time. On the tables was the Year Book, produced and edited by Eoin Quinn for the sixth year in a row. This year he had help from Darragh Coleman and Dave Mc Enroe. He can be very proud of it, it is a fine production, with interesting articles and facts and with lots of ads from members and friends. This is a vital source of income to the club, a point well made by the president and he asked that everyone peruse those ads and if the occasion arises to support the relevant business. There are included in the book two interviews carried out by Eoin himself, both well worth reading; one with Jonathon Sexton and the other with legendary groundsman Frank Doyle. With Dolphin there it was a friendly atmosphere, as we have had a long friendship with Dolphin, and older members will have good memories of games between the two clubs long before AIL. A certain Tom Deering, sitting beside another legend, Mattie Jones and the bust of his brother Shay and who played for both clubs was specially welcomed by president Rynne when he gave his address after an enjoyable lunch. He also welcomed the president of Dolphin Paddy Cleary and his committee and was in top form as he thanked all the sponsors, especially Investec and Toplion, and he had everyone in happy mood for the day ahead. He had a special welcome for the parents of club captain Hugh Hogan, Bosco (well known Abbey actor and writer) and Leslie Hogan and those of scrumhalf Joe Burns, Richard and Heather Burns. After a few amusing anecdotes he exchanged gifts with the Dolphin president who made a gracious and witty speech and then we went out into the sun for the fireworks.
This was no trick, but a real treat for Halloween and one of the most entertaining games we have seen for some time, with both well drilled teams playing enterprising, exciting and skilful rugby in a sporting manner and were it not for an half hour torrent in the second half one can only guess how good it may have been. The new league format has brought back a lot of the interest and excitement into club rugby and St Marys can be proud to be, at present, alone on the top of league. The crowd, as ever led by Rynner, gave strong support and played their part once again. Last week we had a satisfying if somewhat prosaic win, there was nothing prosaic about this and our victory, over this fine Dolphin team, was well deserved. Peter Smyth, Director of rugby, who, due to family reasons, had been working behind the scenes, was back with a bang as he plotted this victory with Ciaran Potts and Shaun Mc Carthy and they had done their background and preparatory work well.
The backs had a composure and shape that was admirable, with Shaun Mc Carthy at his best, taking ball flat and running his well structured and forceful line with authority and changing plays as required, he was helped by partner Joe Burns varying his tactics cleverly and not afraid to take the bombardment. The mid field was secure and aggressive, they took some fine running lines and were obviously enjoying their game and the back three were strong and yet safe. Once again Darragh Fanning was busy and potent and had a splendid game, scoring a breathtaking try. Stewart O’Flanagan had been called on just before kick off, when Conor Mc Phillips damaged a hamstring in the warm up and he did very well, particularly under the frequent high balls with which he was showered. Unfortunately, still out too was Phillip Brophy.
The pack to a man was magnificent. It is hard to single out anyone, for genuinely, everyone gave to his limit and to great effect. The rucking was instant and collective with no one being isolated, again the pick and go was highly effective and the variation of lineout made it inscrutable and the defence was unflinching and it needed to be, for Dolphin put it up to us throughout. The front row was formidable in all respects, ensuring that the scrum was solid and safe, yet very much part of that hunting pack that would do credit to the great grey wolves. The second row was also at its best Large Logie shuddering in impact all game and Robin Copeland magnificent, athletic, intuitive, alert in all respects and busy, he took his two tries with style and three fine steals in the lineout; a natural. Once again the backrow was superb. Dolphin have a fine and celebrated backrow, but today they had to take seconds from this three, ever working, seen tackling, snaffling, effodient at rucks, pushing, supporting, blocking and lineout leaping; from kick off to time off, they were full of derring do.. And skipper Hugh Hogan who epitomised all of that, who covered more ground than anyone and with the added front leadership by example and decisiveness made him my Man of the Match.
The first half was played in streaming sun and perfect conditions as we faced the hill and fair wind. Dolphin attacked from the start and we were in our own half for most of the first ten minutes when we defended with organised determination and set up some good attacking action, which then led after 14 minutes to a terrific run by Darragh who was put into touch just at the corner flag on the far terrace side. Dolphin tapped back the ensuing throw in over the line and Robin swooped like a falcon to get the touch down and Gavin got the conversion from way out and into the wind and so it was 7 – 0. Then on 18 minutes a kick ahead by Dolphin went dead and the resulting scrum back near the halfway saw the ball come to Shaun who gave a super skip pass to Stephen Grissing who made a sizzling break beating his man and then jinking around three cover players, transfer the ball to Darragh who dismissed the first tackler with a piston hand off and then burst through two as he made the line, a wonderful score and it was 12 – 0. The pace of battle rattled on and excitement on the terraces with it; and Rynner had the masses mustered to Marys Mary Marys. We were penalised for breaking the bind at scrum time on 24 minutes and they converted to make it 12 – 3. The quality and intensity was high and both teams were at peak, then on 36 minutes as fortunes swayed their scrumhalf broke from a ruck and switched very well with their 7, O’Mahony, who caught us on contra flow and he went in under the posts and so it was 12 – 10. It was getting close but we were playing extremely well and responded quickly putting them under pressure and then 30 metres out Robin cheekily nicked a ball right out of their hands and raced gleefully in under the posts and with Gavin’s help it was 19 – 10 and then it was half time and a slow drizzle had started.
The second half started, and with it started real rain, then the rain turned to a deluge with some attractive lightening just to celebrate the day that was in it. Soon the paths were streams and the terraces cataracts with water flowing everywhere and the pitch became sodden and the ball was plopping into the pools. The players from both sides did not complain but tried to play with the same verve and will but it was really difficult for them with balls squelching out of rucks and slipping from grasp and still the fury of the storm rose and continued for a half hour to saturation. On 55 minutes Rob Hudson came on in the centre and Colm Mc Mahon came on in the front row. During this time both teams came close with Joe Burns covering and bravely flinging himself under the flying hooves and spray to save a situation, which well may have led to a try. In fact no try was scored the second half. Late on we got a penalty in front of the posts but rightly Hugh went for the corner to try for the bonus point, unfortunately we lost the lineout and the game ended. It had been a most entertaining game and had the weather not intervened who knows, but we are not complaining, we are jubilant. No scores in the second half so it was still 19 – 10 when it ended.
Team :-15 G Dunne, 14 S O’Flanagan, 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.