04.02.2012 1st XV v Garryowen (H)
St Mary’s College RFC v Garryowen FC
AIL Division 1 A
And Shay Deering Trophy
Saturday 4th February 2012.
There are days for putting on the working clothes, rolling up the sleeves and getting stuck in; this was one of those. So nothing dainty but it was effective; one more gone and still on the top. The inextricably interwoven histories of the two clubs ensure that it is an intriguing and exacting battle whenever the two meet. The memories of great players notably, Tony Ward and Shay Deering, who wore the starred jerseys of both great clubs, come into focus on these occasions. When we met earlier in the season, it was close and hard, then we had four points to spare; this time it was equally hard and even closer as we had only one point to spare; and had Garryowen’s outhalf, Declan Cussack, had more luck near the end with two penalty efforts, it might not have ended so favourably for us. Overall, however, Marys did deserve to win as they showed a little more clarity in attack and better ball retention and scored the only try of the game. The set pieces were fairly even, as were the mauls, with Garryowen being slightly dominant in the scrum early on and Marys’ lineout being a little more stable throughout.
The heavy pitch and the hand-to-hand nature of the contest meant that the players were near to exhaustion after the game, some being lectual. It was a blow for Marys to lose Steve Bradshaw during the game, with “a rolled ankle”, as he has been in outstanding form this season and we must hope he will be okay for next weekend. We are fortunate that Ciaran Ruddock, who has been out ill will also be returning next week and that we have such fine back up players. There were many hard and committed performances throughout the team, but once again the halves were vital in all that happened and Phillip Brophy, playing as though he were a 10, 15, and 7 all rolled into one, with the commensurate work rate was deserving man of the match.
As was the case most of the game the teams went full out from the start and battered away at each others defence, when with ball and with thunderous tackles, when without. After 12 minutes, Cussack slotted a penalty for offside. It was seven minutes later when Garryowen kicked out of defence, Conor Hogan, who posed a threat whenever he got the ball, took it well, flitted at pace through several defender chinks and kicked deftly ahead when challenged. It was perfectly placed just short of the goal line and with Conor, Christopher Lilly and Mark Sexton showing concentration and high velocity, up in hot pursuit, the defender fumbled momentarily allowing Conor to triturate him almost and he spewed the ball over the line, Mark twisted in and dived on the ball to score and Marys were 7 – 3 after Ray Crotty coolly kicked the conversion from far out. He then kicked a penalty when Garryowen were penalised from the scrum and another in injury time when they killed the ball near their line; they also lost a man to the bin for this and the half ended 13 – 3.
The second half saw Marys playing against the firm wind and hill, working hard throughout, with strong committed defence and probing sorties. Garryowen used the wind well as they kept us in our half of the pitch for long periods and slowly, with penalties on the 17th minute, 30th and 36th minutes, they brought the score to 13 – 12 and it was shiver time. Marys defence and belief were strong and that is how it finished.
Next Saturday we have a visit to Dolphin in Cork and will have to be at full alert for that as we have had some unpredictable results there over the past few years. Having a great number of supporters along will certainly help a lot, so do try to make it.
Prior to the game, the lunch was an especially festive one, Jimmy and Pamela Smyth having very generously invited several of the players’ mothers. It was great to see them all enjoy the conviviality. I noticed Elaine Lilly, Joyce Sweeney and a number of others.
Also, our president and Garryowen’s shared a most companionable time and our John Gilsenan, with his fine oratorical ability, made a welcoming and interesting speech. He welcomed Ann Deering, the wife of the late and much loved Shay Deering. The Marys’ legend, the great John Moloney, Irish International and British and Irish Lion, was the after meal speaker and he was highly entertaining and most interesting as he gave us anecdotes and stories of deeds and events involving both clubs and players and he paid a singularly moving and insightful reminiscence of Shay Deering. It was happy for St Marys that, later on, the Shay Deering Trophy was retained. Well done to all.
Team (Rolling substitutions) 15 C Hogan,14 R Crotty, 13 S Grissing, 12 M Sexton, 11 C Lilly, 10 P Brophy, 9 M D’Arcy, 8 H Hogan (Capt), 7 G Austen, 6 D Hall, 5 S Bradshaw, 4 G Logan, 3 Robert Sweeney, 2 Richard Sweeney, 1 C Mc Mahon. B O’Flanagan, R Brosnan, K Carroll, D Hudson, M O’Driscoll.