01.03.2013 1st XV v Garryowen (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V Garryowen FC
AIL Division 1 A
2nd March 2013.
The Cosmos swells and spreads awide
Then, when two mighty Stars collide,
Two Blues appear, quasars and quarks,
And on the field, heat, light and sparks
Yes, as I said, above, when the white stars on blue shirts clash it is cosmic, and so it was today. When the radiation ceased we had a 25 – 15 hard earned victory and a step up the table (with Con having been beaten by Shannon). In fact, the entire event was a most enjoyable experience for everyone present. It was like the Garryowen “Shay Days” of old with bubbling chat and excitement. The weather was rugby-perfect; the rivalry ensured a searing, white heat, steaming game. A great treat, we had the most personable and impressive Joe Schmidt, Leinster Head Coach, present for the game and pre-match lunch. He met with Hugh Hogan and his coaches, management and squad, and gave a stimulating and witty speech after the lunch. He showed great interest and knowledge of the club game and he and our super president, Michael Fanagan, had a great time together.
It was only in the latter stages of the game that Marys got on top and overall it was a close hard fought encounter with some excellent rugby and enough errors to give it exciting unpredictability. Our loose play was good, with powerful mauling and quick rucking, and generally, the defence was strong, led in particular by Marvel Man Phillip Brophy, however, our scrum had moments of fallibility, as did our lineout. The evolution of the team under Hugh is clear to be seen; and it is going rapidly in the right direction, with many young players presenting as talented and committed. Today, there was none of this ilk more impressive than young Steve (Stevie Wonder) Toal-Lennon). And so it was particularly apposite today, as the great Tony Ward, who developed and guided Stevie at St Gerard’s school, Bray, and predicted good things for him some years ago, was present. Stevie showed true rugby sense in everything he did, this allied to his acceleration and pace, astute kicking and anticipation, along with scoring a fine try and being particularly involved in another, made him man of the match. Gavin Dunne’s efficient kicking made a significant contribution, he kicked two penalties and two conversions, the points difference between the sides. Another heartening aspect of the game was the return of Robert Sweeney and his brother and club captain Richard. Both got game time and made a significant contribution with much more to come. The remainder of the replacements also did well and the rolling subs use worked really well.
There was a late change for Marys, as the influential Marcus O’Driscoll became ill just before kickoff, so Gavin came on at 15, Darragh Fanning moved from 11 to 13 and Conor Hogan moved from 15 to 11. Garryowen playing down towards the Road end started fast and the game was only a minute old when they converted a long-range penalty through their efficient out half, M Jarvis. Almost from the restart, Marys were awarded a penalty and from distance, Gavin got the game moving along, by levelling the score 3 – 3. Garryowen were lively at this stage and moved the ball well, they got a penalty for not releasing the ball and again Jarvis put the ball over; it was nine minutes gone. The Marys three quarters, especially Darragh Fanning and Steve Toal-Lennon, were putting pressure on the Garryowen defence. Then, Marys put more pace on the game and from a lineout between the 10 metre line and the Garryowen 22, the ball came to Rob Hudson who took an acute vector and he split the defence, straightened and went for the line at real pace just as he was shut down he timed his pass to Stevie Wonder who stepped and went between two defenders and made the line for a top class try, converted by Gavin. It was now 10 – 6 and Paddy puffed the pipe. On 32 minutes, Garryowen closed to one with another penalty and it remained so until half time, 10 – 9.
The second half started in the same manner, both sides looking for advantage and trying to impose themselves on the match. There were variations in the pace of the game, every time we got the pace up we seemed to put real pressure on but odd errors prevented either teams from dominating. Then, on 11 minutes Garryowen went ahead with another penalty; and that two point margin stayed until Gavin restored advantage to Marys on 20 minutes and it became 13 – 12. It was at this point that Marys seemed to get the gears meshing and started to look stronger but it was not until 29 minutes that the advantage was realised, with a hard-earned try. Putting pressure in Carvill corner with a strong maul, we failed to get over and we then took it on, with pick and drive, in twos and threes, we bombarded the line. The Garryowen defence stood firm, eight phases we went through, and commendably kept patience and went closer and close. Then, under the posts we were almost there, but no. Once again, a drive ground on. Then a ruck ball came back, D’Arce whipped it out, Phillip swept it on and out wide Robbie Hudson whammed himself across the line with great strength and determination. Gavin converted so it was 20 -12.
Garryowen steamed, they put their minds and bodies in drive mode and they got close with drives, and after several strong drives, they got a scrum, won a penalty close in, the Marys defence had shown them they were not going to cross the line easily and there was five minutes to go. They knew that they needed to score twice, so they took the penalty and it was 20 – 15. It looked as though we would be fighting a rear guard action, but we got strong and went for it. The ball came out to Stevie Wonder on the right wing, and as he had done so well on two previous occasions, he kicked deftly towards Carvill Corner it was going to bounce beautifully in field close to the corner flag and hop out. A defender leapt and took the ball in the air in field and landed out of play. Quick thinking, Stevie grabbed the ball, wrenched it from the defender, and smartly threw in the ball to Colm Mc Mahon,, who was following up and he made a two yards and passed to Gareth Austen, who dived over and it was 25 – 15 and it was 38 minutes gone. Garryowen came back but could not breach our defence and it ended. A memorable victory.
Finally, we have to congratulate President Michael on winning the toss to ensure that the AIC final V Cork Con will be held at Templeville Road so another big day on the way.
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 G Dunne, 14 S Toal-Lennon, 13, 12 D Fanning, 11 C Hogan, 10 P Brophy, 9 M D’Arcy (Capt), 8 D Keller, 7 G Austen, 6 K Sheahan, 5 G Sexton, 4 S Bradshaw, 3 A Lyons, 2 D Fawcett, 1 C Mc Mahon, Richard Sweeney, C Ruddock, Rob Sweeney, M Fallon, R Glynn.