20.12.2014 1st XV v Lansdowne (A)
Lansdowne FC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1A
Saturday 20th December 2014.
Christmas tear, with a glimpse of Christmas cheer, is how this sparkler of a game leaves us. What work the players under skipper Kevin Sheahan and coaches, Smythy, Marvel man Brophy and Jonny Garth had put in since the last game and how it emphatically and admirably it showed. Here was a Marys' team, that undoubtedly deserved much more than the welcome losing bonus point, undaunted by a well-balanced big skilful Lansdowne squad. The synthetic surface allowed scintillating stuff and the game was played at supersonic pace and great skill and sportsmanship. Both teams deserve real credit.
New World Symphony
For St Marys, gone was the hesitancy and missed tackles and instead was a fresh, ebullient team full of intelligent harrying, carrying, chasing and flair, a symphony. The scrums did cause intermittent concern and we had a couple of misaligned lineouts, some errors, but overall it was a heroic performance. We were penalised on a number of occasions for non-release after the tackle, which was an area closely scrutinised by the referee. It is good to relate that every person who took to the field for Marys performed with skill and withunselfish endeavour and commitment. Also, it was a special delight to welcome back theUltimate Warrior, Dylan Fawcett, home for a few weeks from USA.
In the pack the backrow were the vanguard in attack and defence; Seven, Conor Oliver, wasperpetuum mobile, often defying the laws of physics and was my Marys Man of the Match. Behind the scrum, David Fanagan was back to form, smart, fast, probing, yet controlled. And Marcus O’Driscoll was ever dangerous and brave. Dr Kevin, as he does, led his team with intelligent force and commitment.
Most impressive was the team’s willingness to chase all causes, however lost it might appear. That speed of follow and speed out of defence, linked to clamping tackles, raised the entire performance up several levels above the last one. Again, it was that enthusiastic willingness to chase lost causes that led to our penalty try (converted as was the penalty by Gavin), when Ray Crotty following up like an Exocet rocket, a long kick ahead from his own half, with no hope of getting there; except, he did and was blocked from diving on ball over the line.
After that, with a 3 – 10 lead, it looked as though we would win this exhilarating game, but fate took a hand and played it cruelly. When seventeen minutes were gone in the second half, a Lansdowne player while retrieving a ball, knocked it on and then; the ball going loose, we knocked on in and attempt to retrieve it and break. However, the referee awarded the scrum to Lansdowne. The scrum wheeled 90 degrees and the referee considered it to be illegally swung by our front row and Sean Mc Carthy, then at loose head prop, without prior warningwas sent to the bin for ten minutes. From the ensuing penalty, Lansdowne of course kicked to the corner and with our obvious numerical deficit, they successfully mauled over for a try. They added another try and a drop goal. For the last ten minutes we set up a blitzkrieg on the Lansdowne line, hurtling bodies at the iron defence, making three or four metres, losing one, on again, held over the line and repelled and then again. We must get over, it is coming,we believe, the defence bends, stretches and flailing bodies assault again, we have scored? No held again. One more bruising, brutal effort. Not to be. Our need was great, our effortHerculean, but ultimately and heartbreakingly, it was futile.
It is easy to rejoice in victory, however, to proclaim goodness, bravery, loyalty and effort isdifficult but just.
There was not a Marys man present who did not, after all that, feel a surge of sadness but immense pride and hope.
It should be said that the Marys support today was memorable, with rows of Marys supporters howling Marys, Marys all game, home from home. We often forget the less conspicuous members who for many decades, never failed in support, wherever; John Pyne and well travelled flag, Louis McMullan, Paddy Mc Glade, Robin Bailey, Spike, Barry O’Sullivan, John Ayling and others. Thanks to all.
I have not changed my belief for one moment that we will climb and if you look at the changes in the table that took place over this weekend, you will see how quickly it can all change.
May I to you, whoever reads these missives, thank you and wish you a truly warm contented and relaxed Christmas. See you all on Friday 2nd January at Clontarf.
11 minutes 0 – 3, 20 minutes 3 – 3, 36 minutes 3 – 10.
57 minutes 8 – 10, 25 minutes 13 – 10, 61 minutes 16 – 10.
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 R Crotty, 14 C Toolan, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 M Sexton, 11 C Lilly, 10 G Dunne, 9 D Fanagan, 8 N Timoney, 7 C Oliver, 6 K Sheahan (Capt.), 5 C Ruddock, 4 D O’Connor, 3 B McGovern, 2 S McCarthy, 1 T O’Reilly, Dylan Fawcett, N Murphy, B O’Flanagan, S Toal-Lennon, A Bourke.