05.01.2013 1st XV v Clontarf (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V Clontarf FC
AIL Division 1A
5th January 2013.
Stretched across the horizon of the 2013 landscape, blue grass and white star flowers are pushing up and spreading fast, as the promise of the LSLC win incubates, leads to belief and spurs forward. Maybe those members of le troisième âge may not be so anxious to see time fly by, but anticipation is impatient.
Walking in to the club grounds this bright and mild afternoon optimism wafted on the mild air. How good to have AIL back again after a break that showed us all how important the club game is to us, and how important clubs are to the members. There were many of our very welcome friends from Clontarf over for the game and lots for thelunch, hosted by our beaming president, Michael Fanagan, whose fine head off air hair gives him shear good lucks. The lunch was sociable, although sadly, from our Hon Secretary John D Cunningham, we heard of the death of Kitty Fogarty, a tenacious and loyal supporter over many years. All of us well remember the delightful duo, Kitty and Eileen (Ebbs), who happily and smilingly travelled the length of the country and beyond, in support of St Marys. She will be a true loss to our club.
Michael welcomed Terry Browne, most affable Clontarf president, and after two witty speeches from the two presidents, the lunch also gave us the chance to hear ever-popular former president and raconteur, Liam Birkett, give an entertaining and amusing postprandial address.
Yet again, there was sadness for the Marys’ captain, Richard Sweeney, who had had a recurrence of his back injury and was unable to lead his team on the field, although his supportive presence and stirring urgings were an important factor in the victory. When an especially strong team performance ferments to fruition, as with today’s, it is particularly satisfying. There were many facets to admire, notably the brave defence. The pack dominated Clontarf for good periods but when late in the second half, Tarf had a preponderance of possession, our defence was confident and clearly effective. There was greater inventiveness and incisiveness in the Marys’ back line and the backrow was dominant. In that regard, Ciaran Ruddock at Six, had a gargantuan game and was my man of the match. His tackles were thunderous as he closely played the advantage line shot forward and clattered ball carriers, frequently too, hedrove out of defence. Others in the pack, such as Jack Mc Grath and Dillon Fawsitt, stood out and did fine work. Behind the scrum, stand in captain, Matt (Duracell) D’Arcy, and recently returned Darragh Fanning excelled with Matt’s alertness and vision combined with Darragh’s power and pace producing the only try and what was effectively the winning of the game.
A poignant minute’s silence wasobserved for Kitty before the game.
It was good to find Marys getting into stride immediately with sprightly pace on the game and confident handling, Clontarf too had good possession early on but were unable to break through. On three minutes, Tarf put over a penalty from Richie Lane, for not rolling away at the tackle. Tarf showed strength and calm under pressure and they had a formidable defence. After 14 minutes, when there was one good breakaway move and grounding by Tarf, play was called back for a forward pass. Although playing up hill and into a strong wind, for the remainder of the half, St Marys held possession well and conceded little, although some of our kicking out of defence was unproductive.
It was on 38 minutes, when on the half way we were awarded a penalty for holding on in the tackle and Matt D’Arcy alertly spotted light cover to the blind, on the terrace side, and he confidently tapped and whizzed off, timed his pass with precision, Flying Fange said thanks and set off up the left wing with power, grace and pace and left the defence flailing; super try, converted from distance into the wind by Stevie (Wonder) Toal-Lennon and it was 7 – 3. The half ended thus.
The second half gave us wind and hill advantage and confidence was apparent as we went into attack straight away and Tarf were penalised for holding on and Stevie converted well to make it 10 – 3. We continued to play attack rugby and on 17 minutes we had another penalty; and Gavin Dunne who had come on in the second half converted and the score moved on to 13 – 3. On 30 minutes it went to 16 – 3 when Gavin hit a good penalty. From then to the end Clontarf tried resolutely to get back into the game and they mounted attack followed by attack. There was calmness about our defence and when a penalty was kicked to the corner and mauled by Tarf we stood hard, budged not and having regained the ball from a touch we in turn mauled strongly and marched out to near the 22 before clearing. Tarf returned and ran right and left and we fanned out and covered; and when they drove close to the ruck we hit in two sand threes and drove them back. When the whistle went there was an air of satisfaction for a deserved victory in a closely fought battle between two tough, disciplined teams who have real respect for each other and who in a month will meet again in Castle Avenue where no doubt a warm reception in every way awaits.
Now unfortunately, there is another disruption in the league campaign as we have no AIL game until 26th January when we take on Cork Con, at home at Templeville Road. However, in the meantime we have some important business to attend to in two weeks time in Galway. We play Connacht opposition, Galwegians, in the semi final of the All Ireland (Bateman) Cup. How sublime it would be to do a cup double and if all goes well in Galway, we can return to Dublin to celebrate a semi-final win at our club dinner on 19th January. Let us do that, okay?
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 C Hogan, 14 S Toal-Lennon, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 R Hudson, 11 D Fanning, 10 P Brophy, 9 M D’Arcy, (Capt), 8 K Sheahan, 7 G Austen, 6 C Ruddock, 5 G Sexton, 4 S Bradshaw, 3 Robert Sweeney, 2 D Fawsitt, 1 J Mc Grath. C Mc Mahon, A Lyons, R Glynn, G Dunne, D Keller.