31.03.20212 1st XV v Cork Constitution (A)
Cork Constitution FC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 31st March 2012.
Inexorably, forward is the ravenous lure towards Castle Avenue and the 14th April 2012 for the showdown after today’s celestial win at Temple Hill. There was an almost inevitability about the result of the game and yet for long periods Marys trailed and a relaxed and loose Con entertained their supporters with some attractive rugby. One could sense today an understandable tension in the St Marys team, yet a tempered tenacity and esurient need always bubbled beneath and ensured what had to be done was done. A feature was the assured place kicking of Gavin Dunne, that was the deciding difference between the teams and when, with only three minutes to go, he poised himself for a vital tricky kick, 21 – 20 behind, nobody in the ground, least of all Gavin, doubted its destination. Ironically, it may well have been over-kicking from hand that made the assignment more hazardous than need have been. Be not mistaken however, this was an admirable win at a ground that has seen us depart dejected since 2001. The set pieces were secure and counter rucking was evident to good effect.
Very heartening it is to recount the return from injury of Damian Hall, who was majestic especially in the first half, and Ciaran Ruddock, who rumbustiously came on in the second half to great effect. Special mention has to be made of Matthew D’Arcy who led the team again today, in the absence of still injured Hugh Hogan, he was astute, adventurous and dynamic in his high-paced performance and had a part in both tries, again, he was the complete Duracell Bunny, start to finish.
Without wanting to mention everyone on the field and while acknowledging that once again this was a complete team performance and without any one of the players who took part today the result might very well have been adversely affected, the front row has to get a mention for the three mighty men, while carrying out all their routine duties, were granite in defence and an armoured division in attack. Above all others on the field stood a colossus, Robert (Chops) Sweeney, he was awesome to behold as he loomed out of rucks or mauls, ball in hands, fire in his eyes and legs thumping as scattered flailing tacklers and blockers. His tight play was irresistible, he was ubiquitous in his support and was the deserved man of the match; he also scored a fine try.
Once more, as has been the case on the last three away games, we appeared to have more supporters than the home team and certainly our supporters were more audible, with frantic exhortations being made by many of the players’ parents, such as Mary Grissing, Joyce Sweeney, Phillip Brophy’s dad Eugene and Christopher Lilly’s mum Elaine; well done to them and all our supporters. To see the uninhibited and genuine joy on the faces of many of our supporters, like ecstatic president John Gilsenan, Kevin Conboy (RC), Liam Byrne (Treasurer), Rynner, Jimmy Smyth, Pyner and his well travelled flag, Tom Browne and Gerry Fanning, Louis Mc Mullen and gang, Robert (Time warp) Mc Donnell, Frank Kennedy (RC), Reggie Foley (RC), trustees Peter Mc Laughlin, J B Sweeney, Liam Birkett and Brian (Spike) Fanning, also Fr Brian Mc Laughlin and Fr Noel Redmond, happily recovered from a serious illness, and Jack Hennessy and many more, including the U12s mini rugby players down on tour, along with the director of mini rugby Peter Mac Giolla Riogh and coaches Arthur Mc Evoy and Ciaran Budds and parents, who all together formed a guard of honour onto and off the pitch for the team, was uplifting. The team and management were highly appreciative of the gesture and the obvious interest and support shown by these young Marys’ lads.
As with many games, there was an almost frenetic start to the game with both teams running the ball from most places however over eagerness and handling errors led to lots of turnovers. It was not until 26 minutes before Con put a score on the board with a penalty from scrumhalf Hurley. Gavin replied on 33 minutes but Con went ahead 8 – 3 on 39 minutes from a quick turnover ball and opportunist try, not converted.
The second half was only three minutes old when Con went further ahead with a good wide try, they missed the conversion again so it was 13 – 3. On eight minutes Gavin reduced the deficit by three, 13 – 6 and then on 13 minutes we sprang into action when near the half way the alert skipper Matt D’Arcy took a quick penalty and made great ground, before transferring the ball to the supporting Richard Sweeney he cut inside and took three men out and made a neat switch to brother, Robert he was nearly tackled, stumbled regained his feet and made the line, so it was 13 – 13. On 17 minutes they increased the lead to 16 – 13 before adding another unconverted try making it 21- 13. Then on 32 minutes Matt again got things moving as he cut through a number of players then he passed to that man again Robert Sweeney and he scattered men as he went line wards and timed his pass perfectly to Stephen Grissing who had caused problems for Con all game and he went over and of course Gavin cut the posts and it was 21 – 20. Gears were shifted and power was pushed as we forced forward in determined relentless pursuit of the winner. On 76 minutes, Con gave away a penalty, just outside their 22 and a received a sin binning and Gavin as though on a Sunday stroll beautifully stroked the ball over the bar and it was looking good. The Con team did not give up and they tried to come back but the vice was on and Marys got home, having shown total steel and team desire.
Two weeks lie ahead, of work and sweat and thoughts and plans, with Peter Smyth examining minutely every aspect of attack and defence, set moves and artistic improvisation, the man is admirable and unrelenting in his ability to scrutinise and spend hours of thought and planning. Every player, with Skipper Hugh at the van, will listen absorb, fret and train, with the sagacious words of Peter and Ciaran and James and Steven pounding in their heads and come the day they will be prepared, controlled adrenaline flooding tissues and will be primed to hit ignition and ease through synchromesh gears for 80+minutes. Meanwhile Tireless Terry, with Dave (Penguin) Lyons at his side, will spend equal time and ergs in logistical and practical preparation so that neither coaches nor players will have to worry about where or when. And Dave (physiotherapist) Lyons and Stuart O’Flanagan will lay their lives and their hands at the disposal of the entire squad for the next three weeks and after.
Needless to say there will be no shortage of expert pundits around both clubs to let you know how who will play, win, fall down, where who is strong, weak, better than, weaker than, faster or slower. The kids will dream games and the oldies dream games and some of the mothers will have nightmares; all leading to an exciting apical day by the sea. What a season we are having.
There is no doubt but that we have the ability, character and the coaching to do it and as the past few games have shown, we have the depth in the squad, we have played well all season, varied the game as required and even got the few bits of luck any team needs to win a league in a competitive milieu, so now it is up to everyone at the club and all supporters to come along and enjoy the rugby the atmosphere and the camaraderie that this game engenders more than any other. For those who cannot make it there, the match will be shown live on RTE so, all in all, we should feel fortunate to be part of a great experience.
Team (Rolling substitutions) 15 G Dunne, 14 D Hudson, 13 S Grissing, 12 M O’Driscoll, 11 C Hogan, 10 P Brophy, 9 M D’Arcy(Capt), 8 D Keller, 7 G Austen, 6 B O’Flanagan, 5, S Bradshaw, 4 D Hall, 3 Robert Sweeney, 2 Richard Sweeney, 1 C Mc Mahon, C Ruddock, R Brosnan, D Kilbride, K Sheahan, C Lilly.