25.03.2017 1st XV v Dublin University (A)
Dublin University FC V St Mary’s College RFC
AIL Division 1 A
Saturday 25th March 2017.
To lose David O’Connor, David Fanagan and Ryan O’Loughlin was big blow but having Cathal Marsh back, was a major bonus. However, in the warm up, influential Marcus O’Driscoll strained his groin and had to pull out. This brought Mark Fogarty (son of Patsy) on (how well he did too) and Paddy Lavelle, who is coming back from injury went onto the bench. He will remember well the last time these two sides met here last season, as he scored the winning try for TCD. It wasn’t an own goal, he was a student then at Trinity and playing for his College. Nick McCarthy too, was then on the other side.
Although this is, historically, an almost mystical ground, it is very difficult for supporters to get a good view. This was made less severe due to it being a perfect spring day.
Most satisfyingly, the set pieces for the visitors were reliable and strong. Again the lineouts were secure and the scrum was dominant and controlled. A feature today, was the support play and accuracy of passing.
The game was a whirr of excitement and adventure. Marys played some mesmerising rugby, with that pace we play which almost ensures victory, and Trinity were ever ready for action, ready to run from anywhere. This meant although it was high scoring, it was never predictable. This did not help the hearts of either set of supporters. Once again, this was a university challenge that we worked through by degrees and thankfully we came away with five points, from five tries. Trinity got a point from scoring four tries. So it is clear that defensively on occasions we were caught out, frequently from distance. All of this means we are on 36 points, one ahead of TCD, six ahead of Garryowen and Terenure and nine ahead of Old Belvedere. Theoretically we could be caught by any of them, with two games to go, but it is unlikely; although, we do have two games against two top four clubs, Clontarf at home on 7th April and Cork Constitution the week later in Cork.
Again it was one of those days when every one of the players was in top form and so it is difficult to single out players. However, it would have to be mentioned that Cathal Marsh,who was only released on Thursday to play, had a game fitting of a University match, showing brilliant adventure and skills and running the game like an impresario. Behind him at 15, Terry Kennedy was exhilarating to watch as he flowed over the ground in attack and covered diligently. He scored a wonderful try. However, in between at 12, Darren Moroney had to be selected for the SoftCo MoM award. He moved into 12, having been at 13 and wing in all previous games. He was relentless in his brave carrying, he shirked nothing in defence and he showed high skill and indefatigable determination to score a most impressive try. Last game it was mentioned that he is the most improved player of the season and this progress continues. So he graduated today at Trinity College Dublin!
The pack must not be forgotten, it was led to near perfection by the great warrior, McGov, the Skipper, he was a mobile JCB, and he was followed by the rest in glorious and successful effort. Again, playing varsity adversaries, the backrow was always going to be vital and that was how it was; and our one, led by the inimitable Shiner, shone. However, Gus Jones, who had to retire injured, at half time, was exceptional, he seemed to have the power of multi-location as he rampaged around the pitch winning ball, carrying, linking and tackling. But quite honestly every one of the 20 players who graced the venerable pitch was excellent. If this performance can be repeated with some tightening in defence and control, we will face our last two games with confidence and belief.
Jamie, Peter, Hayden, Ivan, management, DoR, and physiotherapist, Niamh, who was kept highly active, can all be exceptionally proud of their preparation; preparation that resulted in a wide grin of deserved happiness on the faces of our president Kevin Conboy and vice president David Fanagan.
There was a lightening start to the game with the ball flashing across and back, forward and back in hands of Marys and Trinity players. To and fro went fortunes and pressures, when after 15 minutes Terry collected a ball and made fleet progress, then Darren took it on and ploughed through defenders, got it back to Terry who skimmed over the ground and in for the try, 0 – 5. Only three minutes later, when playing penalty advantage, they took the chance of losing it and went for recycled ball that went through seven pairs of hands at Mk11 pace, and Gus Jones was there to get over far out. 0 – 10. The pace was white, with wave after wave of attack, from both sides. Confidence was starting to show on the Marys side and on 27 minutes after patient drive after drive, in twos and threes, attack, repel, attack, repel, on and on. Nerve held Kevin Sheahan twisted, turned drove and over and was 0- 17, after Marshy converted. It was 29 minutes when TCD got their first break out try and on 38 a penalty from Marshy left the score at half time 7 – 20.
The second half started at the same pace and power, and now our scrum was really in control as was our maul. TCD got a boost with another breakaway try converted, on 49 minutes. 14 – 20. Only two minutes later Ian O’Neill scored a marvellous try, breaking down along the left wing to use his swerve and pace to make the score after the conversion 14 – 27. The magic bonus point try. Marshy then added a good penalty, 14 – 30. It was 64 minutes and TCD got a try after a kick ahead was gathered and run in, 19 – 30. And ten minutes later, when Marys were attacking the Trinity line, with picks-and-drives the ball came back to Darren Moroney and he sidestepped, then went hard and with three TCD defenders hanging on to him he drove himself over the line for a smashing try, close in. Marshy made it 19 – 37. And then almost at the end of injury time, 84 minutes TCD got in in the corner for their bonus try and the score was 24 – 37. It went on for another two minutes. But that was it. A memorable win. Well done to all.
Team (including rolling replacements) 15 T Kennedy, 14 M Fogarty, 13 I O’Neill, 12 D Moroney, 11 C Hogan, 10 C Marsh, 9 P O’Driscoll; 8 K Sheahan, 7 G Jones, 6 N McCarthy, 5 C O’Flaherty, 4 C Ruddock, 3 B McGovern (Capt), 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, H Kean, C Ryan, D Keller, J Dilger, H Kellegher, P Lavelle.