25.11.2011 1st XV v Old Belvedere (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V Old Belvedere RFC
AIL Division 1 A
25th November 2011.
The darkly, fearful, toiling night,
Erupted to the sparkling light.
What makes rugby such a wonderful game is the often-great variation between matches and yet the enteric feelings it ever evokes Being that it was our first home AIL game under lights; it was memorable for that too. It was also memorable for the pre-match meal sociability, (not to mention the after match celebrations long into the night), attended by the president IRFU, St Mary’s own John Hussey, who was a guest of our president John Gilsenan; many of the more notable Marys’ alickadoos, like Matt Gilsenan, Bill Fagan, John Carvill, John Pyne, Col JB and his squadron, the Kennedy clan, Rynner, Ronnie, Barney and Spike, the Smyth family led by genial Jimmy, Drs Dave Ryan and Tim O’Flanagan and Paul Davey, Peter Mc Giolla Rí, Ben Mc Ardle, Robin Bailey, ever welcome visitor, Gordon Black IRFU, the Marys’ ladies team and marvellous Mossy; also the Belvedere Lodge, including President Noel Shannon, last year’s successful president, big John Mahony, Dave Ross and delightful Dorothy Collins.
Recently retired from refereeing, Alan Lewis, gave theafter dinner dissertation and an exceptionally amusing and interesting one it was, that prepared us all for the coming event.
What an intriguing game this was and one that Peter Smyth, Ciaran Potts, James Norton and Terry Tierney will often refer back to, not to mention our ever smiling and hard working president John Gilsenan, for it was full of passion and purpose, yet it was one that was won with control, confidence and concentration, rather than frisson, feint and flair. We often forget the opposing team and of course, without one, there can be no rugby and on this occasion how valiantly Old Belvedere played and how well and sportingly they competed to make it what it was, an intense and exciting contest.
This was such a team effort, individuals need no specific mention, however, the man who scored all the home points and generally got on with his game in his own unfussed efficient way, Gavin Dunne, deserves great credit. It has to be said that this was, especially a forwards’ won game, not saying that the backs did not play their part in outstanding defence and countless hard worked attacking efforts, it was just that the forwards were admirable in their concentrated, relentless and unselfish efforts, there was an unison of purpose of symphonic proportions, which makes it invidious to mark out any one in particular, as they all deserve extreme praise, for how they responded to their general, Hugh Hogan. To add to that, the set pieces settled to dominance and were major factors in the victory.
Missing links, they certainly were not, the halves were magnificent in their work rate and reading of the game. Phillip Brophy is a superlative rugby player and he led in every way tonight. Unfortunately he took a shuddering bang to the face mid second half, when hurtling up after a ball, he launched himself at a player, who had fielded the ball he turned and his elbow and back collided with Phillip’s face, he was flattened; but staggered to his feet and continued; that is Phillip. “The other half” Matt D’Arcy was at his most dynamic, a real Duracell Bunny effort, he ran the game, he ran and ran and never stopped, his passing was sharp, his breaks were needle-like, his kicking challenging and his defence vice tight. He had to be my man of the match. His greatest fan, Mrs D’Arcy Snr, his grandmother, must have been really proud of him. She even knitted him a lovely cosy woolly hat.
When I said this was especially a forwards’ won game, I did not mean it was an old- fashioned plod, for it was the opposite, being dynamic and polished, with high intensity and impact. From the start, the pace was gasping, with both sides running ruthlessly at each other. Marys had more of the ball in the early stages and after ten minutes, Gavin converted the first penalty for offside. Belvo replied with one for, coming in on the side, on 14 minutes; with our going to 6 – 3 on 19 minutes and 9 – 3 on 25 minutes. The half ended at 9 – 3 and both sides retired to the dressing rooms for the now customary leisurely, tea and canapés; bring back the oranges on the field half times!
The second half began with Belvo putting on pressure and they were rewarded with two penalties close in, both of which, significantly, were missed. Our scrum appeared to get the upper hand and on 14 minutes we were awarded two penalties from the scrum and Gavin extended our lead; and he further advanced the cause on 22 minutes with awell struck penalty and it was 15 – 3. We, the spectators, even John Cunningham, were beginning to feel confident. Then Belvo increased their tempo and put on a lot of pressure, our defence was commendable until the 37thminute when we were caught short out wide for once; and Belvo scored a fine try that led to an equally fine conversion from the touchline. This gave the visitors additional incentive and they made frenetic efforts to score again, but a resolute and controlled defence stood firm and it ended 15 – 10. Well done to both teams.
If Noel Shannon had after the meal, rightly commented on our president’s happy and ever smiling face, he should have seen it after the game; for John resembled an illuminated Christmas Tree, as he joined his team in “We are Marys Boys”. There was great feelings of fulfilment in the squad of over 30 players who make up this admirable group of lads. Smythy expressed his pride in their efforts and he and all involved, including Rugby Council under Kevin Conboy, deserve appreciation. It was good to see Richard Sweeney and Steve Bradshaw back from injury, however it is a sad cheerio for the present to Darragh Fanning, as he heads back to Australia. We all wish him well. Next Saturday, 3rd December, shall be an even bigger test as the league leaders Clontarf FC visit, be there.
Team (Rolling substitutions) 15 G Dunne, 14 C Hogan, 13 S Grissing, 12 M Sexton, 11 D Hudson, 10 P Brophy, 9 M D’Arcy, 8 H Hogan (Capt), 7 G Austen, 6 C Ruddock, 5 D Hall, 4 G Logan, 3 Robert Sweeney, 2 D Kilbride, 1 C Mc Mahon. Richard Sweeney, R Brosnan, S Bradshaw, D Fanning, R Crotty.