01.12.2012 1st XV v Garryowen (A)
Garryowen FC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
1st December 2012.
In rugby terms, this is Star Wars,
With all the zeal but not the scars.
Great Seamus he is there as prize
Which makes us fight and realise,
That losing may be little shame,
All part of our beloved game.
Another slow start meant we had a little too much to do to take the prize, but frequently St Marys played with verve, adventure and high powered pace and for much of the game looked the better side and indeed made this observer believe we have well enough ability to reversethe season’s previous losses and overcome any team in AIL. Perhaps, sustainability needs be achieved. Today, unfortunately Richie Sweeney the skipper was out, as were Chris Lilly, Conor Hogan, Steve Toal-Lennon and Ray Crotty.
All round there was continued improvement in most areas, our maul has become a compactand controlled compartment, which can be used to good effect, our scrum, continues to be dominant and impressed further, with puissant and penetrative Jack Mc Grath present today.Yet most of all it was the punchy sharp, manner with which we distributed, looped and re-fired that impressed most. The resilience too was evident for after falling behind there wasresurgence and determined urgency that could have garnered a harvest with any good fortune
Also, there were many fine performances throughout the team, with Robert (Chops) Sweeny driving his pack on and Phillip Brophy whisking up ;the backline there was freshness andflair to be admired. Again the front row were exuberant and powerful, behind them the second row worked hard and young Gerry Sexton showing steady progress, did well in the lineout, and the backrow toiled hard. Once again, the halfbacks were vivacious and led with confidence yet urgency and the midfield threatened constantly, indeed Marcus O’Driscoll’s work rate and threat were constant and admirable and he would have been my Mary’s man of the match.
Outside him the back three did all asked of them and both promising young players on the wings are natural inside players and deserve credit.
The pitch was a little soft after a lot of recent rain but generally, on a fine day, in good condition. The first minute and a half was taken up by continual feckless kicking to each other, when then Garryowen ran a ball from inside their own half and scored out wide. They repeated the dose with another try on five minutes only to add a penalty on 10 minutes and Marys were reeling. 15 – 0. We then steadied and put on a lot of pressure with good rucking and improved ball retention, however they added a further penalty on 24 minutes. Thenpressure built as Marys pressed harder and harder and on 33 minutes we were awarded a penalty. The corner was selected and a maul initiated, Garryowen infringed and the corner was again chosen and this time an inexorable maul swayed and sashayed towards the line and scramble and sweat as the defenders did, they were impotent and over went the pack as a wave crashing onto the beach and big Ciaran Ruddock guided and grounded the ball to score a try. It was then 18 – 5. Gavin Dunne converted a penalty in added time of the half which ended 18 – 8.
The second half started at a good pace as fortunes see-sawed until after ten minutes when we worked the corner again and then went to our patient pick and go mode and holding the ball well we worked metres and made it close, then our Duracell Bunny, Matt D’Arcy, having alively probing game wiggled and dived and did; hopes were high with the score at 18 – 13. It was 20 minutes when Garryowen succeeded with a penalty to go to 21 – 13 and on 25 minutes added a try in the corner and hearts sank again, with the conversion making it 28 – 13. It has to be said that we reacted positively, concentrated again and ran the ball well putting sustained pressure on the home side, then we got the break through with a fine individual try from stand in hooker Kurt Haupt, who had a good game. He ran a fine vector and showed pace and strength to score a good try that was converted by Gavin and we were back in it, at 28 – 20. Garryowen scorned two easy penalty chances to seek a bonus point try, which efforts were foiled and Marys battled to the end, almost getting over again for a losing bonus. We will have been saddened but not bowed; and Hugh, James and Steve, Richie and the team will all have taken good heart and hope from many aspects of play. Sad to lose of course, but both teams wore their stars with honour..
The next big challenge is on Friday 14th, the final of LSLC V Lansdowne, when it is hoped to have skipper Richie (Chips) Sweeney back for not only does this competition have resonance for the club, it has a really special place in the hearts of the Sweeney family for Richard and Robert’s dad, the incomparable JB, played a major part in the 1969 winning of the then LSC and captained the club to win the inaugural LSL (then both separate competitions) in 1972; 40 years ago. It promises to be an historic night and several other players may return from injury, possibly even Steve Bradshaw. What a way to start Christmas celebrations! It has to be mentioned that Stephen Grissing has discovered that he has cruciate ligament damage and will require an operation after Christmas and so will likely miss the remainder of the season; what a pity for him and for us. Roll on 14th and roll up all our support. Our president exceptionally popular Michael Fanagan also deserves our support and he too has a special family connection to the competition as his uncle the iconic Joe Fanagan was captain of the first ever side to win the LSC in 1958
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 G Dunne, 14 A Burke, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 R Hudson, 11 R O’Loughlin, 10 P Brophy, 9 M D’Arcy, 8 K Croke, 7 G Austen, 6 D Keller, 5 G Sexton, 4 C Ruddock, 3 Robert Sweeney, 2 K Haupt, 1 J Mc Grath. K Sheahan, A Lyons, D Fawsitt. C Mc Mahon, R Glynn.