12.11.2011 1st XV v Blackrock (A)
Blackrock College RFC V St Mary's College RFC
LSLC Semi Final
Saturday12th November 2011.
Tailing yet success to conceive,
Sadly, chance flattered to deceive
My, what a shame to have climbed from near oblivion to within three points and to have to leave this much loved competition, the Leinster Senior League Cup, it is sad. However, it has to be said that at one stage in the game we looked to be going home with tails between legs, as Rock deservedly led 25 - 3, scoring four tries and were at a canter. Then we regrouped and stampeded forward sweeping all in front of us and playing some vibrant rugby, with an adventurous momentum. Today saw several player changes with some of the senior players injured or rested and some of the less known players came forward and did the club and themselves proud. Credit goes to Peter Smyth and his colleagues for giving the opportunity to these young players to show their potential at senior level. In the pack the back row stood out with high quality performances from Barry O'Flanagan, Darragh Keller and Gareth Austen, who added to his auspicious AIL debut last week, with another big game. Behind the pack, it was a pleasure to watch Marcus O'Driscoll at centre, especially in the second half when he showed a real feel for the break, strong defence, sharp acceleration and perception; and athletic Christopher Lilly, particularly when he went to wing, who had several scintillating runs, causing the opposition real difficulty, his speed is impressive, spatial awareness keen, his work rate was high and his cover defence excellent. Matt (Duracell) D'Arcy too had a major influence on the game. He plays at a pace that stretches defences in all respects and brings life and stimulus to all around him. In addition, today he scored a notable try. It was good to see other young players like Ray Crotty, Steve Toal Lennon and Robbie Field involved and another Sexton coming into the squad, with young Gerry included
In spite of all that, it has to be recognised that Marys were not themselves for the first half, with mistakes, misaligned defences and some lethargy. Pride was restored in the second half and a brave and non-stop effort saw the team creep up to within three points and end the game in the ascendant.
Rock too were much changed-from the previous Saturday, their Leinster players unavailable, but they showed they were in the mood; and started at pace. They had a penalty after eight minutes and added a try on 20; we had apenalty form Gavin two minutes later. Blackrock continued to attack and scored again with a converted try on 29 minutes and yet again on 36 minutes to lead 20 - 3 at half time.
The second half saw us increase our pace, although it was Rock that scored first with yet another try on nine minutes. it was to be their last score of the game for we came into it then and on ten minutes Marcus O'Driscoll made a fine break and had the awareness to connect with Matt D'Arcy taking a superb vector at sizzling pace and he seared in under the posts, Gavin Converted and it was 25 - 10. Continued pressure led to a good forward try on 17 minutes and on 40 minutes continual pressure in the scrum led to several infringements by Rock and the referee awarded the penalty try, then converted and we hummed back into action pressing again and again for at least a further three minutes to bring it into extra time, but Rock held out and it ended 25 - 22.
The next senior game to look forward to will be under lights on Friday 25th November at Templeville Road, no doubt Peter and his colleagues will have fine tuned things and we will be ready for action and a top class performance against holders Old Belvedere, who beat Tarf today in the other semi-final. Sounds good doesn’t it?
Team (Rolling substitutions) 15 C Hogan, 14 R Crotty, 13 S Grissing, 12 M O'Driscoll, 11 R Doherty, 10 G Dunne, 9 C Lilly, 8 H Hogan (Capt), 7 G Austen, 6 D Keller, 5 D Hall, 4 R Fields, 3 Robert Sweeney, 2 D Kilbride, 1 R Brosnan, T O'Reilly, C Mc Mahon, M D'Arcy, B O'Flanagan, G Sexton, C Morrin, S Toal-Lennon.