02.10.2010 1st XV v Old Belvedere (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V Old Belvedere RFC
AIL Division 1 A
2nd October 2010.
Welcome back to AIL rugby and all the joy and pain that come with it; today was a day for pain. The first pain was the memory of the recent tragic death of an esteemed, greatly liked, long time member, Peter Dorgan, which was reflected in the dignified minute’s silent tribute to him. A much less severe pain was the loss of the game to Old Belvedere, while on the positive side the new president Ronnie Mc Brien held a successful lunch and announced himself as a raconteur extraordinaire, when welcoming our Belvederian friends. His counterpart John Mahony also showed the happiest of touches in his reply.
At kick off, on a shower-spattered day, the newly refurbished pitch was in fine fettle after the off-season hard work of Spike, with the help of Liam Byrne, John Carvill and groundsman Frank Doyle. From the kick off, we looked to have the winning of the game, but did not realise the full delitescent potential. The difference between the sides was defence, where they were rigorous and unyielding; on occasions, we were found to be mortal. During the game, we had most possession, made many line breaks and worked hard but we made some decision and handling errors and their first line and cover defence were always up to the task. Although they were stretched to the limit, once only denying through a hold-up over the line. As the game went on, they grew in confidence, helped by their scores, a strong backrow and a fine pair of halfbacks. Today, in spite of losing, we certainly showed enough to retain the stated confidence in a successful campaign. Our scrum was firm, our lineout almost impregnable and our loose play controlled, however we did lack real bite, game pace and clamancy, all of which will come as the season continues. Our pack looked strong and disciplined. The front row was in tight control, the second row worked hard close in and our backrow was vibrant. Number Eight, Damian Hall, was to the fore, both in defence and attack, for most of the game and was my man of the match, the captain, Paul Nash, was up there with him, he captained the team from the front, working incessantly and was capably abetted by AIL debutant, Number Six, Darragh Keller. Behind the scrum we looked to have the better of things, almost throughout, but failed to convert the superiority to points; this will not be so in the future, with several new inclusions in the team it will naturally take a little time to fuse the subtle links and partnership nuances. The debutants all through the team can be happy with their contributions and the replacements also made significant contributions on introduction.
From the kick off, we went on attack and spent the first 20 minutes in attack mode with only one Belvo break out which gave them a penalty on 7 minutes, converted by their Ten, Andy Dunne. We had several line breaks, but their defence held and eventually they mounted a number of attacks, then on 29 minutes and after three phases in our 22, they switched from left to right with Dunne swinging a good ball wide to their number Six, Leydon, who transferred to Riordan, the full back who went over in Carvill Corner, suddenly they were 10 up. This seemed to raise their confidence level and they came more into the game.
The second half was only a minute old when Belvo struck again with an opportunist try under the posts, which Dunne converted and we were in a battle. We did fight hard and soon Shaun Mc Carthy had a successful penalty. Ian MC Kinley got two more penalties when he came on as a substitute for Shaun and after we laid siege to their line for the last ten or so minutes he tried unsuccessfully to convert a drop goal with the last kick of the match in an attempt to garner a losing bonus point.
Afterwards and Next Stop
This was a disappointment, not a disaster, Belvo are a well constructed team and will no doubt be three fighting to the finish of this league. We too have a fine team, we have time to make up the deficit, and we will; however, we must start next Saturday at the Killing Fields. It will be nostalgic going back there, remembering the great battles (yes battles) of the 90s, with Jemmo, Pottsy and the Fish slugging away with the Clohessys and Ger Earls, the great nights beforehand for the alickadoos and the train of thoughts on the way back. It will also be tough, nothing makes YM fight more than the sight of a blue starred jersey, so we must be up for it; and we will. It is likely we will be without Hugh Hogan again, Darren Hudson after his injury today, Steve Bradshaw will be away and we are not certain yet whether or not Robert Sweeney will be available from Connacht. Otherwise, in spite of some knocks, we should have a full squad available (bar the longer-term injuries) and we will prevail. We must combine composure and hard urgency, which I believe we shall and there should be a good trip home. You saw last year the importance of the support, so it is up to us to be there for Nasher and his team, there to hear Rynner in full voice and Michael Farrell’s referee rant, to see Pyner’s ageless flailing flag, that certain smile of Lazarus Costello at full time and to note the cynical summation from Reggie; all worth the trip, there will also be a rugby match. See you there.
15 P Gillespie, 14 D Hudson (M Donnellan), 13 S Grissing, 12 M Sexton (P Brophy), 11 R Crotty, 10 S Mc Carthy (I Mc Kinley), 9 D Campbell, 8 D Hall, 7 P Nash (Capt), 6 D Keller, 5 S Bradshaw, 4 C Ruddock, 3 C Mc Mahon (Rob Sweeney), 2 Richie Sweeney), J Mc Grath.