11.04.2015 1st XV v Dolphin (H)
St Mary’s College RFC V Dolphin RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 11th April 2015.
Bittersweet, is how one might describe this commendable victory with a second half that was full of flair and adventure and young sparkle, following a somewhat turgid first half. That is the sweet part, however, the thought that after such a stirring win we have to face Garryowen on 25th in a playoff takes some of the shine off. That is not to say that we face that game lacking controlled confidence. We have very good reason to believe.
Star centre, Marcus O’Driscoll, had to withdraw ill before the game, which necessitated positional and other changes.
We kicked off with a strong wind and within two minutes we had seven points on the board after a mauled try scored by big Steve Bradshaw. It was soon evident that Dolphin were up to play and they carried well out of defence and soon had three points on the board and indeed scored a good beak-away try by Mills, and were leading, 7 - 13. Another maul saw hardworking Sean Mc Carthy score, Ray converted and so restored our lead, 14– 13 at half time
The second half was when we blossomed in line with the spring season; and the story of this half was exemplified by the exuberance of our young players. None more so than the extraordinary Conor Oliver, he is like an amalgam of a Staffordshire bull terrier at the turnover and a whippet in the loose. He was scintillating as he skimmed over the ground to score two super tries. He was vice like on the ball and toppled oak trees with tackles; he was wondrous; and indubitably Man of the Match. He was not the only Marys’ babe to sparkle, with Ryan O’Loughlin a constant threat and scoring a try, Sean Kearns showed again why he is a big player for the future; his passing was sharp, awareness bright and kicking excellent and he linked well with his young ebulient partner David Fanagan. The final confection was the score by young Terry Kennedy, who came on in the second half at fullback. A good day for St Marys to have a second generation Kennedy (son of Terry, although more lagomorph than rodent, as he hares along) at the club and his pedigree shines through. He has time on the ball, bravery, audacity and likes seeing avenues through defenders, as though he has a magic torch; he sways through at speed. He even ventured a scissors with Ray Crotty. His score was a gem, he meandered through tacklers and mesmerised the defence. Other scores came in the second half; the field opened up as we accelerated the game. The in-form, stalwart Ciaran Ruddock and hardworking Sean Mc Carthy both scored tries.
Well of course we celebrated but truth told we were deep down frustrated; with having played so well, not only today but often throughout the campaign and with a young learning squad; yet here we are, having to play off. President Brian Grimson’s face told the story of the mixed emotions, although he is solidly certain of our success in the playoff.
The last report made clear that we have beaten six of the nine other teams in division 1A and can feel confident against any team. Certainly, Garryowen shall be a formidable opponent, however, we have faced the top teams in 1A all season, and as today showed, we can play some scintillating rugby and will face the match with determination, deep commitment and considered confidence. It cannot be stressed too strongly how important our captain Kevin Sheahan is, he has nurtured the new and led from the front, as he did today when he was outstanding in all respects. He forms that strong reliable bridge between the ore mature and the younger players and their respect and fondness for him ensures a granite performance on 25th April. Another factor of fundamental importance is our coaching team. Smythy, Jonny, and Broph are just marvellous and they have managed and moulded, developed and honed the squad, through the cold wet of winter and under often very difficult circumstances with losses due injuries, emigration, work, and other commitments. They are just the best and they will have prepared meticulously come that Saturday.
Therefore, you will wholeheartedly place your faith in all involved and do what you have been doing so well this year, supporting. This is the last hurdle and this match is not just like a cup final, it is much more important as a loss is not just a loss; it is an ejection from 1A and a halt in our progress in very many ways. So a big plea from the team, the skipper, the coaches, the management and the president, come in great numbers, with lubricated lungs, bells, bugles, babies and lovers.
This time, it is obligatory for all true supporters to turn up. You have time now to change any prearranged appointments. This is essential and the most important. Come!
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 R Crotty, 14 C Toolan, 13 R O’Loughlin, 12 M Sexton, 11 C Lilly, 10 S Kearns, 9 D Fanagan, 8 K Sheahan (Capt), 7 C Olliver, 6 M Fallon, 5 S Bradshaw, 4 C Ruddock, 3 B McGovern, 2 S Mc Carthy, 1 T O’Reilly, Richard Sweeney, N Murphy, B O’Flanagan, D O’Connor, T Kennedy.