08.10.2016 1st XV v Dublin University (A) by D O’Brien
UCD RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
The Bowl, Belfield
Saturday 8th October 2016.
On an uplifting autumnal afternoon, not a breath of wind and a perfect playing surface, we were treated to a game of spontaneity and skill. It is a pity that there was but “a drop in a bowl” attendance, to witness an important win for Marys.
The return of captain, Brian Mc Govern and super stalwart Kevin Sheahan, gave stability and leadership to a young inexperienced, but exciting team. It meant that the pack was potent and balanced. The scrum was impressive and in the loose the back row was the most effective it has been this season. The second row pair of Cathal O’Flaherty and young Caelan Doris were soaring as they devoured the game; and once again the front row was formidable, no one more so than hooker, Hugo Kean, back to his dynamic best. He was to be found everywhere, tackling, taking, delivering the sweetest of passes, and never flagging. He made a major contribution and was my MoM.
There were a number of leading players from both sides missing due to Leinster A, call ups and injuries, however both sides were matched well and jousted with invention and passion. The game was sometimes unstructured and unpredictably vivacious, this oft times, gave UCD overlaps out wide. Our midfield of Paddy Lavelle and Ryan O’Loughlin, working well with Sean Kearns at Ten, impressively teamed up together. It was due to their tenacious and alert defence, these overlaps were negated as they cut off delivery, both also made incursions and sharp breaks and were a constant ache for the home team.
The entire 20 players deserve big credit; it was a true team effort. A mention has to be made, and welcome given to, Conor Dean, the son of former St Marys ‘outhalf, great international player and current Irish team manager Paul. Conor came on when Paddy Lavelle had to go off injured and he acquitted himself creditably.
As to be expected with varsity teams, UCD played a fast all running all dancing game with skill and determination, This meant there was an excitement and unpredictability about the game right to the end which caused some extreme anxiety in the Marys supporters throughout. This was especially so near the end of the game.
After 11 minutes the home team went ahead with a penalty from Mathew Gilsenan, playing outhalf for UCD.
It was 28 minutes, when that dominant scrum of St Marys put pressure on in the UCD 22 and the excellent Kevin Sheahan broke from the back. He made six metres and drew in the defence, the ball was recycled, Sean Kearns broke and quickly transferred right to left and out to Mark Fogarty who nimbly beat the cover and scored a good try in the corner. It was 3 – 5.
UCD lost a man to the bin and missed a penalty chance just before half time so the half ended 3 – 5.
The students were successful in keeping the visitors at bay for the entire sin binning, in spite of fairly clear Marys dominance. The game was 52 minutes gone and Kevin Sheahan was himself on the score sheet, when after a series of strong drives, he took on ball hard into the defence and after two recycles it came back again to him, he surged through the defence and scored. Sean hit the conversion perfectly to make it 3 – 12.
The students raised their stroke rate and started to put force into their game. A ball directly from a good lineout on 54 minutes went straight out to midfield and a direct vector saw Murphy cleave the defence and then deliver to supporting winger Marks who went in under the posts. Gilsenan converted. It was now 10 – 12. Shiver time. But nerves held, and a quick riposte five minutes later, when, a series of supported drives gave Cathal O’Flaherty the chance to get his name on the scorers’ list, he took it powerfully and well. Sean again faithfully delivered the important two points and it was 10 – 19.
UCD did get a penalty back and at 13 – 19, however they lost a man to the bin; soon after we likewise received a yellow. The last seven or eight minutes were knee trembling and cardiac challenging, as UCD pressed hard. Coolness and commendable defence kept them at bay, for them, impatience and over eagerness by attackers, saw two good opportunities lost.
In the end we deserved the win and needed it too. Jamie and Peter were happily relieved and justly proud, It was restorative and a real pleasure to see our president Kevin, glowing with happiness and pride in his team and they joyfully, hammered out We are Marys Boys.
The previous visit to the Bowl at the start of the 2014-15 season saw us most unfortunate to lose 24 – 20, so, today it was particularly satisfying to win. It always good to come to Belfield, whatever the result, as their alickadoos are most welcoming and their team sporting. The post-match visit to the club bar was relaxed and sociable.
The visit to Lakelands
It is unlikely that our next game will give any relaxation, as we head down the road for our big derby game, versus Terenure College RFC. Terenure hold an innate and fervent desire to beat in rugby (probably even in pass the parcel), St Marys, that desire fires them to an intensity few can match. If we do not realise that and exude even greater desire we will have a tough afternoon on 29th October when we go to Lakelands and their new G4 pitch.
We have the tools with which to succeed and our coaching team has the expertise, belief and leadership to imbue their team with all that is needed. This is one game where you must consider if your club is worth supporting, when it is most needed. If for you it is, now is that time. Therefore we must arrive in our throngs and we must feel that deep loyalty and pride that bring our support to a tsunami of sound and almost a kinetic lift. See you there.
Team (including rolling replacements) 15 D Fanagan, 14 Z O’Hagan, 13 P Lavelle,12 R O’Loughlin, 11 M Fogarty, 10 S Kearns, 9 P O’Driscoll; 8 K Sheahan, 7 D Aspil, 6 N McCarthy, 5 C O’Flaherty, 4 C Doris, 3 B McGovern (Capt), 2 H Kean, 1 T O’Reilly, R Halpin, E Ferron, P Starrett, J Dilger, C Dean.