02.04.2011 1st XV v Old Belvedere (A)
Old Belvedere RFC V St Mary's College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 2nd April 2011.
Success isn’t permanent and failure isn’t fatal.
Sadly, it is over for another season, and were it to have been over after 27 minutes of the game, we would be feeling differently today. As it is, although disappointed and maybe a little tenebrose, the blindly brave and bristling performance, sparked by Ian Mc Kinley’s bewildering try on 38 minutes and led by inspirational skipper, Paul Nash, had us captivated, palpitating, trembling and hopeful for the remainder of the game and so afterwards the sadness was assuaged to some extent.
To be honest, we let it get away early on, with lapses in defence and Old Belvedere which presents a strong well balanced team did not have to be invited to take advantage, then lo, before we knew it, it was 20 – 0 and was looking ominous. Credit to all, the heads stayed up and Marys never stopped trying. After the break and Ciaran Potts’s shrewd changes, with a new alignment of the backline, the ball was being used to good effect. Man of the match, Ian Mc Kinley, was at the gain line whipping the ball wide, switching points of attack, punting, then dabbing the ball behind, breaking and dazzling the Belvo defence, Phillip Brophy was using his balance and power to hold up or penetrate and make space for Mark Sexton who, with that little bit of room, was finding gaps with his strong running and Stephen Grissing was growing in menace and closing the defensive space out wide. The forwards too, urged on and led by Nasher, intensified their endeavours with variation and relentless work, Ciaran Ruddock, as has been his wont all season was devouring work, impavid and indefatigable . The Marys’ supporters’ gloom at half time faded and surges of hope and esteem were insinuating themselves. When the final whistle sealed our fate, the emotion shuddered through players and supporters and all was bleak, but, with the knowledge that a new generation of stalwart Marys’ men had given their essence of existence for their club and their team mates, a deep and genuine pride surged and we were as one.
We must thank the coaches, Ciaran Potts, Shaun Mc Carthy (departed Christmas), Steven Hennessy, the management Terry Tierney, Ian Grimson and Dave Lyons and, most of all, the squad and their intrepid captain Paul Nash. They have given us a cause, a light and a hope during the coldest of winters (in climate and economy). They gave us reason to believe and cause to cheer and chat and argue. We had trips to Cork and Limerick and visitors in numbers and songs to sing and curses to make and stutters and soars and smiles and roars and frowns, and all along a bonding of rugby kin and the Marys’ family was happening; what a wonderful journey.. For the more mature the members, it is significant, as it shows that there are still honourable and marvellous young men joining our club and, overall, the rugby world. They will fill all the gaps and boost the club and country in the future. And we must give thanks to them. The president Ronnie Mc Brien is deserving of great credit too for his unremitting support and good-humoured encouragement to all his teams during the season.
Unfortunately, just before kick off the admirable Richard Sweeney had to cry off due to exacerbating a back injury. David Kilbride took his place and as David always does, he gave his all to good effect. From the beginning, it was clear that both teams were about their business as they crashed and bounded into each other. The pace was frantic and intense. Being over eager we were adjudged to be off side and they punished us on three minutes and then we had our first lapse on 20 minutes when their fine 15, Danny Riordan, got in at the corner and with the conversion it was 10 – 0. On 23 minutes they scored again in the same corner with winger Mongan going over, and their other winger Devitt, then scored at the far side on 27 minutes; a frightening deluge. It was eleven minutes later of hard labour when Ian Mc Kinley got the ball from Ronan Doherty facing a dense crowd of defenders and he cast a spell on them, with a mesmerising dance through them all and popped down the ball, Gavin Dunne converted. Could it be there was a glimmer? Some of us thought so.
The second half saw the changes as described, and with Darren Hudson going to fullback where he seemed comfortable, Steve Bradshaw, who worked feverishly, had also come on for the stricken Damian Hall. Later on in the second half, Colm Mc Mahon came on at prop and did very well; Colm has had a fine season and he will be satisfied with his very significant progress this season. It was all systems on from the kick off, you could feel the atmosphere growing as the intensity ratcheted up to thereoid pace. It was ten minutes when we lambasted their line, drive after drive, we were held up over, scrum back, we came again and drove again then the ball came to Dave Campbell, he switched to the stampeding Robert Sweeney, who was giving it everything and causing them grief along with fellow prop Jack Mc Grath, he went over and it was 20 – 14, it was starting to look brighter. We continued the pace and effort, with the backrow at full tilt, keeping them under pressure and our lineout was functioning, then Ian did it again, another piece of sorcery and we were only a point behind 20 – 19. The static in the air was crackling and our team was full out. We narrowly missed a penalty and as the end approached, they had a lineout on halfway, rucked and had their Six stand on the blind as a shield, he took the ball and the cover, slipped it to big Leo Auva and he set off like a battering bison along the touchline, all the best efforts were to no avail; a score and the end 25 – 19.
I must thank all of you who went to the trouble to read these reports and especially those who made contact or commented on them.
Team: 15 G Dunne (P Brophy),, 14 D Hudson,13 S Grissing, 12 M Sexton, 11 R Doherty, 10 I Mc Kinley, 9 D Campbell, 8 H Hogan, 7 P Nash (Capt), 6, K Sheahan 5 D Hall (S Bradshaw), 4 C Ruddock, 3 Robert Sweeney (C Mc Mahon),2 D Kilbride, 1 J Mc Grath