05.02.2011 1st XV v Shannon (A)
Shannon RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
5th February 2011.
“Not that I loved Caesar less, but that I loved Rome more”
This could well have been the sentiment of the few supporters who eschewed the international match (recorded for later viewing) and made the pilgrimage to rain drenched Coonagh in support of St Marys. Their presence was highly valued by the team and captain Paul Nash expressed his appreciation to President Ronnie Mc Brien after the game.
We took away a losing bonus point, thanks to a late Damian Hall try and are still in third position, yet it was clear that everyone felt disappointed and a little frustrated after the game. Make no mistake Shannon were a different unit than that which succumbed at Templeville Road, being energised, motivated, vorant for the ball and aggressively defensive. We competed well and by no means submitted tamely, but, as with the last visit to Coonagh, it was field kicking that made the difference, ours not infrequently lacking purpose, distance and direction, additionally we made a few unwise decisions. Our lineouts were this week, again well executed, our scrum was stronger than theirs and although we lost the ball in the tackle on a few occasions we compared favourably in most of the forward interactions, with Ciaran Ruddock continuing his exemplary form of recent games and Paul Nash being to the fore and tirelessly working and leading throughout the entire game and for me deserving the man of the match epithet.
The team must now erase that loss from the mind and march on positively and confidently.
We got a marvellous start with their dropping the kick off ball which we retrieved and showing excellent continuity of play, made our way to the Shannon line and Ciaran Ruddock scored, which no doubt helped compensate for his lost try of last week. So a very good start and we were looking strong on 0- 7. On 15 minutes they converted a penalty and then at 36 minutes they made it 10 – 7 when we lost the ball in our 22; they rucked and swept it out to their right winger, Luke O’Dea, who got in at the corner. On 40 minutes, a series of drives by Shannon ended with their 8, David Quinlan, scoring and their 10, Mc Donagh; converting so they went in at half time 17 – 7 up.
When the second half was 12 minutes old we lost a man to the sin bin and they increased the lead with a penalty, to make the score 20 – 7. Two minute later Gavin Dunne converted a good penalty to give encouragement and a score of 20 - 10. We worked hard and put some good pressure on but it was looking bleak when on 39 minutes Darren Hudson made a strong, weaving break from his own half up the centre of the pitch, and was just stopped in their 22; we lost the ensuing ruck but put immense pressure on them, as they tried to clear their lines, they mis-kicked; Mark Sexton blocked and picked, he timed his pass well to Damian Hall who got in at the corner, we earned a losing bonus point and made the score 20 – 15 and so it finished.
With Dolphin coming to visit Templeville Road on Saturday next, we must be back to our best to ensure a win. They present similar problems to Young Munster and so we must be ready to play our fast ruck and run and wide sweep game. The management will have the players sharp and ready; we must likewise be there to support them. So please make the effort.
Team:- 15 P Gillespie, 14 R Doherty, 13 S Grissing, 12 M Sexton, 11 D Hudson, 10 G Dunne, 9 M D’Arcy (D Campbell), 8 H Hogan, 7 P Nash (Capt), 6 K Sheahan (G Logan), 5 D Hall, 4 C Ruddock, 3 Robert Sweeney (J Mc Grath), 2 Richard Sweeney, 1 C Mc Mahon.