27.04.2013 1st XV v Cork Constitution (H)

St Mary’s College RFC V Cork Constitution FC

AIC (Bateman) Final

Templeville Road

27th April 2013.

At season’s end, the ground laid bare,

as members head to fields elsewhere.

The grass grows rank in dyke and ditch,

with summer daisies, on the pitch.

Then August, thoughts of games return,

And stirring hopes do strongly burn.


Wandering off after the game, children were playing and the younger groups were planning their social evening ahead. So the world had not shuddered, it only felt that way. How fortunate we were anyway, to have again, a final to end the senior season, even if not fortunate enough to win it.

Likely, most of you will have seen the game or the broadcast. I could not face looking at the recording, seeing how it transpired, then the pain in our president’s eyes and the sad desolate face of the wonderful captain, Richard Sweeney, and his players, as the game ended.

The game’s two halves were the antithesis of each other with Marys’ first half being farraginous and a little below par, the second half was vibrant, virile and almost there. Mid second half when putting on intense pressure on the Con line, a scrum to St Marys under the Con posts was inexorably marching towards the line. It was hard to see how we did not get seven points to win the game, however, it was not to be

As expected from the Marys’ team, everyone fought to drop and beyond, they came close, very close but just did not get there and truth told Cork Constitution probably just about deserved it on their first half performance and their composure under pressure. They had a few key men, especially number 6, Graeme Meagher, second row Hayes and their centre Deasy. Our lineout was secure today and our scrum dominant, we seemed to have the power in the pack but their scavenging gave us little chance to get the ball to our two wings, with space; for Darragh and Stevie looked potent with the ball. Unfortunately, too, we lost Stevie in the first half. Gavin kicked every chance he was given, his boot has been invaluable this season.

Although heartbroken by the result, the skipper, Richie, will have been happy with his own game. As I mentioned, everyone did everything possible and so I will just say that for me the Marys’ man of the match was Colm Mc Mahon who put in a strong scrummaging game and a particularly high-powered second half... Indeed, the game was a fine advertisement for club rugby and the fact that RTE broadcast live, it will help the image of the game.

The Game

On a cool, bright day, we played towards the Cabbage Patch in the first half, with the breeze. Con got possession from their kick off and put on some pressure and after 3 minutes their 10, Holland landed a penalty. Gavin hit back with one for Marys after six minutes and Holland got another three points on 14 minutes. They got a good try from winger Clune on 20 minutes, 3 – 11. Gavin struck again on 23 minutes and Holland replied on 26 minutes; 6 – 14. When 35 minutes were passed, Gavin got us to nine and so, well in touch, but two minutes later, Deasy forced his way over and with Holland’s conversion, it left the score at half time 9 – 21.

The second half was high paced from Marys and playing down to the Templeville Road end, we looked in business mode. Soon the pressure paid as Darragh Fanning collected a clearance kick and made polished progress though their defence, then his kick ahead a flying follow up forced a lineout close in. Our lineout worked well with as it did all game, Gerry Sexton, took it and a controlled and well steered maul followed. With Gareth Austen comfortably in the cockpit, the maul saw us over the line and Gareth getting his try. Another marvellous kick from Great Gavin put us 16 – 21. On 13 minutes, Gavin put us within an inch of them, 19 – 21. We continued to push for victory but they remained resolute in defence and we could not manage another score. Con made a sally forth on 42 minutes and Holland standing quite far out hit a fine drop goal and our fate was determined.

You are all aware of how Hugh Hogan took on the role of Head Coach, at the beginning of this season, after several senior players, most especially himself, retired from playing. He set about developing a team for the future and well he did it... In his new role in Leinster Rugby, in which we all wish him great enjoyment and success, he will not have the tight financial and other restrictions under which he laboured at St Marys. The young players he has brought in over the season have earned our admiration and stoked our optimism for the future. As I pointed out last week, he used 40 players over the season; this can only augur well for the future. We are also fortunate to have continuity in retaining James Norton, who has developed into a highly respected and top class coach and Jonathan Garth who has excelled with the J1s over the past two years. In addition, it is hoped that the incomparable Peter Smyth, may have enough time to allow involvement.

Many things are changing in the club just now, with some great office holders, who have given to completion in the past number of years having to look after other aspects of their lives. And, what a debt we owe to them. When these changes become clearer, we can I hope give them full credit for the immense and indescribable work they have done and the enormous debt we all owe them. Many interested or involved in rugby itself, do not realise how totally the game depends on these men who give their every spare moment to keep the club, and so the club rugby, alive. Without the administrators, there can be no rugby.

A probable change of role is also expected for Tireless Terry. Terry, and the role he has played over eight years, are not describable as his sensitive understanding and human input are particular to him. He must take great credit for the successes gained during his time as manager, he has been outstanding, and all will wish him well with any new role he takes on. The players will be sad to lose him, but no doubt, he will be floating around in the background, ready to advise, help, or soothe when required.

Another man who has done a great deal over eight years is Dave Lyons (Jr). Dave has worked as assistant manager, clearing up after training sessions, getting ice, bandaging sore limbs, and many other tasks. He continued to play during that time and did everything with a smile and helpful attitude. Married life and business have decided for him, so he has to retire. Thank you Dave.

As two step out, another steps in, Garry Manning over the past season has also been working hard for the senior squad as an assistant manager. Garry is no stranger to working for the club, as he has acted in many capacities over many years, including initial coaching and managing the Ladies team, doing the thankless and difficult job of gate keeper on AIL days, functions organisation and several roles on the executive committee. The good news is that Garry will remain involved and gives continuity and experience. Best wishes will obviously go to him for the future.

Finally, we must recognise all the work done by rugby council in arranging games, selecting and sorting teams, liaising between clubs and Leinster and IRFU, player recruitment and pitch management among many other things so, as mentioned last May after the great AIL win, the vital role played by RC is often forgotten.

Well now, you can all forget these reports, at least until next season. I would like to thank those who went to the trouble of getting in touch regarding these reports. I thank Brendan Spring and Niall Rynne for their encouragement and particularly Liam Birkett and John Pyne for their useful comments. Thanks also to some others from far away who Email now and then. I must mention long time member from Australia, Pat Drennan, who frequently writes and gives me reason to continue. I also say thanks to the many who talk to me in the clubhouse with interest about the reports and the devious words that sometimes featured. Most of all I hope that those of you who cannot get to the games got a sense of the particular games.

Happy yeti hunting, swimming with sharks, sky diving, bog snorkelling, and banana throwing; have a good summer.

D O’Brien.

The Team (Rolling substitutions)

15 G Dunne, 14 S Toal-Lennon, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 R Hudson, 11 D Fanning, 10 P Brophy, 9 M D’Arcy, 8 D Keller, 7 G Austen, 6 K Sheahan, 5 G Sexton, 4 C Ruddock, 3 Robert Sweeney, 2 Richard Sweeney (Capt), 1 C Mc Mahon, .C Lilly, M Fallon C Hogan D Fawsitt A Lyons.