12.10.2019 1st XV V Armagh RFC
1st XV V Armagh RFC – AIL by D. O’Brien 12/10/2019
St Mary’s College R.F.C. V Armagh City R.F.C.
Energia AIL Division 1 B
Saturday 12th October 2019
Having won a confidence lifting first game away last week, it was disappointing to end up with only a losing bonus point, today at home. It is important that the team does not feel too deflated, but learn from it and put those things that were wrong, right. No doubt Steven and his astute crew will be working on that and skipper, Tom O’Reilly, who showed well today in play and leadership, will also be lifting his squad to belief and determination.
To think that the home side was 14-3 up on 40 minutes, then with Armagh scoring converted tries each side of half time they were 14-17 down 25 seconds into the second half.
The game was lost to St Marys due to a combination of not taking almost riveted on chances, missed tackles and passes. Although the pack matched up well for the most part, The back line had not one of its happier days.
All that said, the set pieces worked well and there were some good performances. Hugo Conway and David Fanagan ( before having to withdraw with a hamstring strain on scoring a neat try) were energised, alert and threatening. Both scored exhilarating tries. Cormac Foley again showed his quality and work rate. In a generally hard working pack, Peter Starrett, who has had a year away with Armagh was in inspirational form, secure and productive in the line out, ever driving on his colleagues and himself and his defence was unmoving. Richie Halpin at hooker, who ever is a fine forward, added an impeccable line-out feed, a fervent tackling display, good scrummaging and high work rate. For his all round display he was accorded the SoftCo MoM award.
Admiration has to be expressed for an Armagh team that was fit, fast and well organised. They controlled the ball well, took their chances better and that was probably the difference that gave them victory.
Armagh City started well, running the ball Japanese style, and for twenty five minutes they were in our half in all-out attack. Credit must be a given to Tommer’s men as they kept them out, conceding only a penalty on 18 minutes.
On 28 minutes, having worked their way back up towards the Cabbage Patch end, a sweeping St Marys’ move delivered the ball to David Fanagan and he used his remarkable prestidigitation to bamboozle the defence and score (awarded as penalty try). Unfortunately, he injured himself and had to go off. Ruairi converted and it was 7-3. Ryan O’Loughlin came on and he will be extremely pleased with his first AIL game since returning, as he showed good positions, vision and skills; making considerable ground on several occasions. Another to make an impact on introduction was Jack Dilger.
There was 36 minutes showing, when Hugo Conway on the right wing got his hands on the ball 40 metres out and he slalomed at zoom pace along the touch line. He beat all defenders and scored a fine try. Ruairi again did the honours with a well hit conversion, and now we were 14-3.
Then disaster for the home side struck. With 40 minutes on the Dropping Well clock, we failed to protect the ball and Armagh’s Andrew Willis used pace out wide to score an opportunist’s try, converted.
Half Time 14-10.
The second half started, Armagh regained the ball from their kick off and recycled. Then Nigel Simpson ran straight with pace and left the St Marys’ defence flat. It was then 14-17. Marys had a number of missed opportunities, when composure would surely have rewarded. However, it was Armagh who added points with a penalty on 65 minutes.
With respect to St Marys, they never stopped trying but confidence by then was high in the visitors, and they never wilted even after some hard hammering; so it ended 14-20. One that got away.
Next Saturday after the curtain raiser in Japan, we travel a little lest distant, to Old Wesley, which has two wins and will be tough opposition. However, there is no doubt that we will win that game if we have learned from the last two games and play to the team’s full abilities and systems. Tommer’s team is a very young and inexperienced one, but it is flowing with talent and spirit. Each of these lads is hard committed and loyal. It does take time for combinations and systems to evolve. We are fortunate in having one of the highest regarded and most capable coaching and management teams, in club rugby. They are full of successful experience and bursting with enthusiasm and invention. We will succeed. We, the supporters must be a little patient. We must also share that loyalty and belief. And like them we must make the effort. In our case the effort is to be there at every game, not just handy or home games. All; every one. We must make that mental pact with ourselves and the squad.
Let us flood Energia Park with our energy. See you there.
Team up with Tommer.
Team (Rolling Replacements X12)
15 D Fanagan, 14 H Conway, 13 M Carey, 12 M O’Gara, 11 C Kennedy, 10 R Shield, 9 C Foley, 8 N McCarthy, 7 C Dempsey, 6 D Aspil, 5 L Corcoran, 4 P Starrett, 3 M McCormack, 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly (Capt), S Healy, N McEniff, J Dilger, R O’Loughlin, A McEvoy.