01.02.2013 1st XV v Clontarf (A)
Clontarf FC V St Mary's College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
1st February 2013.
Anois teacht an Earraigh, beidh an lá dúl chun shíneadh,
Is tareis na féil Bríde, ardóigh mé mo sheol.
Now, after Brigid’s day (as we all learned (above) inKindergarten), we are in spring and we have spring within, as we raise our sail and continue our move onwards. Smudges of azure appear, then, glimpses of deeper blue are framing the white star, as we look up, and they give us a frisson of optimism. We have every reason to feel optimistic and joyous after tonight at Castle Avenue and another memorable victory born of skill, courage and patience. This winter has been more a cold gnaw than a cold snap, although daffodils are appearing and so is optimism. The night was as cold as the hospitality was warm, for Clontarf folk are fierce foes on the field andare gregariously genial and good-natured social friends. We had a fine meal after being welcomed by popular president Terry Browne. This was followed by a fascinating dissertation by guest of honour Joe Schmidt, Leinster Head Coach. Then we had the game.
This was a game of high velocity, vivacity and verve, when we started fast, played fast and ended fast. It was very evenand full of entertaining rugby and adventure with a cardiac finale. Most of all, Marys showed again the ability to stay cool and defend with confidence, ferocity and organisation. The return of Phillip Brophy was highly significant for, with his hyperactive and inspirational partner Matt DuracellD’Arcy, they put real pace on the game and pulverised attackers. That pace is vital to our success and when we haveit, we gain from it in every way. They were both commendable in all respects. Not to say we could not have lost, for we spent the last ten minutes in fret mode, as ruggedClontarf pounded away at our defence and had two close drop goal efforts. In fact, one facet of play at which Clontarf bettered us, was their use of the biting strong wind in the second half; they used that wind to good effect to gain territory.
The Marys pack was valiant, never shirking aid in defence or support in attack and the scrum found its true heart to form apotent attacking base. The back five worked close and hard together and the front row were unflinching. Robert (Chops) Sweeney was in the van as he drove forward with the ball, formed a brazen bulwark in defence and constantly led the pack onward. In addition, he scored, cleverly breaking from a maul and was a real colossus, he was my man of the match.
The young players, who started, or came on, such as Dylan Fawcett and Arthur Lyons and Mark Fallon showed greatcharacter and ability and played a vital role in the win. So overall, a splendid team performance and a credit to the players and the coaching and management teams.
So where does that leave us? We have 18 points and are still in 8th position four and six points ahead of UL and Shannonrespectively and now only one and two points behind Belvo and Dolphin, respectively, with the four to play. So getting into a healthy position with lots for which to play.
Our next joust is a return game with the considerable Cork Con, in Cork on 16th February, two days after your affirmation of love and dedication for and to St Marys and your dream person. You can imagine, the team will need all the help that can be given so try your mightiest to get there. The other half will surely let you go, or better still go with you, if you get the flowers and bubbly on 14th. We are hoping to have Skipper, Richard (Coeur de Lion-Chips) Sweeny back for that game.
As mentioned above, we really put the foot down from the whistle and showed intent. we had with us that bitter and biting wind and we soon were on the attack in Tarf’s 22. And after eight minutes, the unflappable Gavin Dunne who had a really fine game and contributed an invaluable 14 points on the night, thank you Gavin, converted a penalty. Tarf got one back, for off side on 16 minutes, and then Gavin struck again on 21 minutes; so 3 – 6. When 25 minutes had passed, Tarf were in attack and through a very fine break the ball came to right wing Michael Mc Grath who went over in the corner to make the score 8 – 6. Again, Gavin hit another penalty, after a tackle on a man without the ball, on 30 minutes. Tarf’s centre Killian Lett was sin binned for his error.
On 38 minutes a movement of grace and guile saw MattD’Arcy and Darragh Fanning combine down along the left touchline, when beating man after man weaving and waltzing they interchanged passes three times to bewilder the Tarf defence, however they were caught near the line and Tarf scrambled the ball into touch. Marys mauled the lineout and made good progress then, picking his time perfectly, Chops saw his chance, broke off and went line-wards, and battled his way over with two defenders hanging on to him to no avail. Gavin converted and it was 8 – 16 going into half time.
The second half saw the pace continue, however Tarf now had the strong wind and the hill and they used them well. After eight minutes, they converted a penalty and added another on 25 minutes to make it 14 – 16; oh! closing. Gavin put over another of his own from distance against the wind and they missed one; but on 36 minutes, Reid got his range and made the score 17 – 19. Now it was close and Tarf arewarriors and they came hunting glory. But to a man, Marys stood and were defiant, if Tarf went left, Marys went left, if they went right or centre there were Marys' men to challenge and chop. They tried a drop, it was wide so they took it on in twos and threes; and they were repelled. Time ticked and still they came in waves and ones and waves and twos and then,when it seemed they might go over, they put it back almost in front of the posts and Fitzpatrick who had played well all game saw glory, we saw dungeons, but wait, the ball soared, then swung and almost clipped the right hand post as it went wide. Again phew! But a well deserved Phew! 17 – 19.
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 G Dunne, 14 D Hudson, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 R Hudson, 11 D Fanning, 10 P Brophy, 9 M D’Arcy, (Capt), 8 D Keller,7 G Austen, 6 C Ruddock, 5 G Sexton, 4 S Bradshaw, 3 Robert Sweeney, 2 D Fawsitt, 1C Mc Mahon, A Lyons, R Glynn, R O’Donovan, C Hogan, M Fallon.