31.01.2014 1st XV v UCD (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V UCD RFC
AIL Division 1 A
31st January 2014.
This is an exciting weekend for European rugby with the commencement of the Six Nations tournament. Tucked into a neat corner of Dublin 6W, this evening under sparkling lights and sodden skies, we had our own transition from simmering to ebullition as we continue our ascent with skill and confidence and up the table. The major upgrade of the pitch under the house and ground management of Brian (Spike Fanning) some six years ago, delivered its promise of being able to stand up to severe rain pressure. In addition, the afternoon, supportive therapy by volunteers under Frank Doyle, John Carvill and Darragh Fanning’s supervision, ensured it was pitch perfect at kick off time.
After last week’s symphony of tumultuous rugby, there was tremulous anticipation of the game. It did not disappoint in result, and for long periods, quality. Both teams served up a delightful dish of rugged running rugby. The difference between the teams was mature power and controlled decision-making as against youthful ebullience but sometimes over ambition. The game served up one of the finest tries likely to be seen in UBL rugby and the keen competition throughout, ensured all present were inured from the cold.
Marys dominated for long periods, as they played with commitment and the vital togetherness of a team that has really set solidly. There is now pace and support in attacks, with excellent vectors and good support play. A most heartening aspect is the defence, which is adamantine. However, there were today a couple of slips in this area. There are many aspects to the Marys’ play that are credit to the coaches, such as the exceptional maul and the improved body position in rucks. Overall, this is a team that is in the ascendant.
As mentioned, Marys dominated for long periods but did lose some momentum for periods mid-game and, strangely, after receiving a yellow card, it was UCD that were dominant and peppered our line with waves of attack; credit, there were no breaches. So, a deserved win and a step up the ladder. Outstanding performances, there were a number, with Conor Hogan, who scored two tries, coming back to his best and a continuation of the astropheric form of dynamic Dylan (Butch) Fawsitt; he was also instrumental in that electric try. And then there was Kevin (Shiner) Sheahan, who is at present acting captain, and had an all round splendid game. His control in set plays and his control of forward plays, not only today but also generally, is commendable. His defence is calm and secure and his leadership is admirable. Additionally, and most importantly his assured decision making is a major bonus. Today, his overall contribution made him my man of the match.
The wind seared the ground as the reluctant supporters shuffled out on to the terraces and took their huddled places. A welcome feature of our recent play is a high-paced start and once again, we took this action, with hard straight running and controlled rucking. UCD too were up for the fun and they in turn ran and passed at high speed. It was the visitors who struck first with a James Thornton penalty on four minutes. In the 12th minute Ryan O’Loughlin made a neat little break in mid field and it was taken on with power and pace by Rob Hudson He timed his pass well to the supporting Conor Hogan; and almost pneumatomorphically, he slipped the defence to score in the corner. Gavin Dunne hit the conversion beautifully and it was 7 – 3.
Soon afterwards, a UCD scrum on our 22 saw the ball go directly through the hands to their 13, Steve Murphy, who ran through to score a fine try, converted by Thornton. It became 7 – 10 and the game was humming. On 27 minutes Gavin ensured it became 10 – 10, with a well struck penalty and on 36 minutes. Then their lucky 13 scored another try (unconverted) to leave the score 10 – 15 as half time slid in.
The second half commenced and on four minutes Gavin brought it back to 13 – 15, and on eight minutes he made it 16 – 15 and on 11 minutes that magnificent try arrived. As to be expected, dynamic Dylan was involved, he erupted from loose play inside our half and rocketed through a number of defenders and straight down the middle, he was hauled down, turned beautifully and popped up the ball to the Duracell Bunny, Matt D’Arcy, who brilliantly held it and swept it out through magnetic and magical hands to arrive out wide into Hoggie’s grateful grasp and he put on the turbo and skimmed along the touchline to score, to deserved acclamation. It was a movement to savour all season. With another of Gavin’s superb kicks it became 23 – 15.
On 18 minutes their yellow card was presented and Gavin happily made the score 26 – 15 from the consequent penalty, but for the ten succeeding minutes Marys were put under heavy and sustained bombardment and what a challenge it was to Smythy’s well conceived defensive system ; but great credit it stood firm through exquisite penetrating probes, drives and charges. When the siege was lifted the last ten or twelve minutes were even and strongly contested. When the whistle sounded, the St Marys’ supporters and team were letabund. It was a deserved victory.
Now as Dolphin did not play we are seventh in the table ahead of them and we have put further distance between Ballynahinch and us, We poised to continue progress.
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 G Dunne 14 M O’Driscoll, 13, R O’Loughlin, 12 Rob Hudson, 11 C Hogan, 10, C Marsh, 9 M D’Arcy, 8 K Sheahan (Capt), 7 B O’Flanagan, 6 G Austen, 5 C Ruddock, 4 D Frawley, 3 B Mc Govern, 2 D Fawsitt, 1 C Mc Mahon, A Lyons, M Fallon, S Flanagan, R Glynn, M Sexton.