19.02.2011 1st XV v Garryowen (A)
Garryowen FC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 19th February 2011.
“Our deeds still travel with us from afar,
And what we have been makes us what we are”
And what St Marys were today was tantalisingly good, for while lots of little errors were made, there was adventure, creativity and industry. There have been over the years many jam-jars of Marys’ tears shed in Dooradoyle, so afterwards all were sportingly and quietly happy and tearless. Once again this week, the team played in an accelerative mode for the full eighty minutes and were well deserving of victory. In fact, except for the first ten minutes, we were in the ascendancy in all respects throughout. There were some notable performances both in the pack and behind the scrum. Outstanding was Richard Sweeney, who was a laccolith in the front row, truly well supported by all three props involved, and his general play was hurricane, as he covered ground in support, took on ball at every chance and tackled relentlessly, he scored a fine try and was man of the match. In the second row, which has become the fulcrum of this pack’s action, Damian Hall, following last week’s display, had a super game at high velocity and was well abetted by the excellent Ciaran Ruddock, while the back row was a three-man SAS unit; ruthless. When Matt D’Arcy is in Duracell Bunny mode, he is irrepressible and invaluable and so he was today; as he whizzed around giving fast clean ball, covering, supporting and constantly probing and alert; the twinkle was back in his eye.
There is no more honest player in the squad than Gavin Dunne, who never ceased working and his contribution to goal kicking is a magnality. Mark Sexton is another who has come into a fine trend of form and is scoring tries, as he did today, added to solid defensive action and all round hunger. His partner Stephen Grissing is an unsung hero, constantly on the prowl for work in defence and attack and he ensures that there is good structure and form to the backline. The back three contributed handsomely to the game, with many sorties from the two wingers, a fine try from one and an excellent game in all respects from Paul Gillespie at full back. Ciaran Potts, is intelligently increasing use of his bench these days, as he weaves a tightly spun team fabric, able to interchange without loss and so it was today, with Kevin (Chunky) Carroll, David Kilbride, Gareth Logan, David Campbell and Conor Hogan all coming on, with time to play, and making positive contributions.
President Ronnie Mc Brien, Captain Paul Nash and the management must be proud and hopeful as they head into the last three games of the league, with Rock visiting next week then a chance to draw breath before the last two games against the two teams ahead of us, defining what our play-off situation shall be. There is no doubt but that Rock have improved immensely from our first meeting in November and we will need to tighten up a little, while retaining our adventure and flair, to ensure victory.
As noted above, the first ten minutes or so of the first half were untidy and unclear and due to a few small errors, Garryowen came close to punishing us, but we settled and increased the pace. On 12 minutes and five fast phases, we won a penalty, which Gavin Dunne converted to get us off the mark. We continued to attack and came close on a few occasions, then on 32 following a ruck, Matt D’Arcy broke, drew the cover, fed Damian who went through a gap brushing defence aside and found the fast following Richie Sweeney, up in support, and he went over and Gavin converted. 0 – 10. That was how the score stayed until after half time.
The second half commenced as the first ended and we continued to attack, on three minutes Gavin added a penalty to make the score 0 – 13. Marys went further ahead on nine minutes. Ciaran Ruddock got a hand to one of their lineouts, Hugh Hogan swept it up in vulturine fashion, we rucked it on and then the ball came back to Hugh who drove on, then gave the ball to Gavin who sent the ball to Mark, who gave a delightful skip ball wide out to Ronan Doherty who blasted past three men and scored a lovely try in the corner and Gavin got it across the bar from far out to bring the score to 0 – 20. On 12 minutes we were penalised for not releasing the tackled man, we had a sin binning and they got three points, so 3 – 20. This stopped us not and we continued to attack and then on 22 minutes following a series of fast phases of attack we swept the ball wide and Damian, out on the wing, was not going to be stopped and so it was 3 – 25. Five minutes later we scored again, Paul Gillespie was involved, gathering the kick ahead, Mark Sexton got it and made ground and Duracell Matt continued the attack and when cut off he got the ball off to Damian, following up, and he went over and Gavin added the two points; 3 – 32. At the half hour mark they got an intercept near the half way and scored under the posts; 10 – 32. We did not stop trying and soon were attacking again and Mark took a lovely vector counter to the flow to receive a reverse pass and score close in and Gavin made it 10 - 39 at 39 minutes. It was hard not to lose concentration and in injury time, they mounted an attack and ran the ball wide where we were short and they made the final score 15 – 39. Not a bad 80 minutes work.
Team:- 15 P Gillespie, 14 R Doherty (C Hogan), 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 (K Carroll), 2 Richard Sweeney (D Kilbride), 1 C Mc Mahon.
A sad note on which to end is the report of the death of John Lawlor. John was a long time member of St Mary’s College RFC and played junior rugby there during the 60s and 70s. he was an inseparable loyal pal, since schooldays at St Mary’s College, of the late John Doddy and Brian (Spike) Fanning, the latter now having lost both of his closest friends in the past two years. John Lawlor served on the executive committee in recent years and was a frequent attendee at senior matches at Templeville Road. He was a most likeable, mischievous presence at many of the away trips which he enjoyed greatly with his two pals and which he brightened for the entire group. He was fine actor, and often on hearing an exotic or regional accent, one would turn around surprised to find his large persona grinning disarmingly.