25.01.2020 1st XV V Shannon RFC
St Mary’s College RFC V Shannon RFC
Energia AIL Division 1B
Saturday 25th January 2020
Times like these rivet us as one in empathy. It is clear there are almost elemental bonds and needs that make our club, our players and our game part of our very existence. These explode at times into almost nuclear emotions of joy or dread. To realise the fundamental importance of these human outlets and so our interactions, can be cathartic.
Today, we saw and felt a vibrant game of undulations and twists. Four minutes to go, four points up after two majestic penalties, elation; four minutes later defeat, dejection. St. Marys, at kick off, went from grim, almost heroic defence for over 20 minutes, then to high tempo jousting for the rest of that half. A second half of vivacious effervescent rugby followed, and finally, a fatal blow. In between, we served a menu of rampant scrums, scattered errors, brilliant cameos, beauteous tries, mixed kicking and admirably unselfish teamwork. Oh how we must feel for Tommer. He is a most dedicated, honest and popular captain and leader. He is full of character and loyalty, he lacks only a little luck. Today sadly, luck deserted his team in the final stretch. But neither he nor his welded in, squad are bowed. They will now reflect, and then the upsurge will commence.
It would be wrong not to say that Shannon were a formidable team with a strong pack and some fast direct running backs and indeed some might say that they may have just shaded it and deserved their victory. However, it was probably the nature of their victory that made it so emotionally desolating for the entire home assemblage. Over many years now we have had some great contests and no doubt shall again.
There was much in our performance to be heartened about and some excellent individual performances. Indeed there is no one on that field today who can feel anything but pride with their performance and input.
As mentioned, the scrum was in control throughout, so once again the front row must take special credit. The props, on top of scrummaging, put in an enormous amount of effective work. The hooker, Richie Halpin, did his basic work well, however, in his extracurricular actions he excelled, He was frequently found in midfield running hard vectors. He made some excellent breaks, hard tackles and once put in an outrageously precise chip through. He had a superb game all round and is always a supportive leader. He therefore received the SoftCo MoM award.
The extra work, in defence particularly that the second row did was vital, especially in the first half, when literally, the backs were to the Templeville Road wall. The backrow has seldom played better in all respects, a formidable commando unit never to be subdued.
The half backs did all asked of them, with Padjo’s kicking and defence notable. Like Ryan O’Loughlin at 15, he has been in the best form of his career since his return just before Christmas; both again excelled today, with Ryan scoring a neat try just before half time. Young Ben Watson at 10, is finding his feet at senior level. He moved the line well and kept the Shannon defence tied, he showed bravery and commitment. The value of Mick O’Gara is showing weekly, and his added value as a kicker was exemplified today, with two marathon kicks for goal. It has to be said, that there was one outstanding man behind the scrum. Myles Carey was at his best today, showing, cheetah pace, balance and anticipation. He covered tirelessly and scored a superb try. The back three were also primed and ready and all contributed notably. Additionally, Mark Fogarty put in a perfect kick ahead for Myles’s try and squeezed in a nice try himself, in Carvill corner.
The game started fast almost frenetically, Shannon gained possession and were bent on retaining it, which meant that almost incessantly we defended. They ran at all angles and vectors; we defended with stubborn resolve. As they fanned out we fanned out and tackled, and tackled. It took 24 minutes before a breach was found. After multiple series of picks and drives, Shannon scored and converted 0-7. The siege was lifted and soon after we got a break out, up along the right wing, Mark Fogarty kept tight to the touchline, then swerved and deftly kicked ahead. Myles fairly flew up the pitch after it, took it magnificently to leave pursuers in his jet stream. A lovely riposte. We started to play with some confidence and pace and looked good, with less errors in attack. We launched a series of attacks and just before half time, 41 minutes, the pressure paid off with Ryan getting the ball ten metres out and with astounding prestidigitation, sinuously slalomed his way in under the posts. So the half ended 14-7.
There was a new self-assurance in the home team after the break and it started looking very promising as the pace and skill levels of the game were raised. It was gone 50 minutes when after crushing scrums on the Shannon line and several drives, we got the ball out left to right, a pass bobbled badly on the ground for Mark. He kept his calm and picked it adroitly before skipping through two defenders and scored right at the edge of Carvill Corner. It was uplifting for all and it was 19-7.
On 60 minutes, Shannon got the ball wide and scored in the Cabbage Patch corner. It became 19-14. Then on 65 minutes things changed. From a knock-on by Marys just inside our own half we were once more putting big pressure on a buckling Shannon scrum, as the referee was about to blow for a penalty, Shannon managed to get the ball out to the outhalf and with eight Marys’ man bound, he ran straight and fast to score close in; it was 19-21. Mick O’Gara then slotted two superb long range penalties from around half way on 69 and 76 minutes. 25-21. There was a home happiness surge and breaths held. However, on 78 minutes, we had a lineout in our own half, we lost it and Shannon moved up field ominously. They got the ball out wide to break free and score in the Well Corner. It was 25-28. It was stunning. We had little time and not enough to get back.
Where are we now?
Well, we are in 8th place, two ahead of Naas, our next opponents on 14th February. They had an emphatic win over Belvedere today. We have 24 points, which is two behind Malone, and three behind Old Belvedere. Not so pretty, but as you will have noticed, this is a fairly compressed table and one win or loss can change things considerably. Steve, Jamie and Barry are working incessantly with a view to improving further what has been a steady increase in skills, intensity, confidence and execution.
There may be many things won and lost on February 14th, however, there will be surely no love lost, when Naas comes calling. Expect a pyrotechnic display. But expect to show that love you have for your club. Get along to Templeville Road. You can delay the dinner, keep for later, the roses in the car boot, champagne on ice and romance in your heart. You are really needed. Any who might be tempted to stay in the warm bars and look through the window, try to get out on to the Terrace and join the gang in Marys, Marys, Marys! You really will make a difference and feel so much more part of it all. If ever you were needed it is now.
Team up with Tommer
Team (Rolling Replacements X12)
15 R O’Loughlin, 14 M Fogarty, 13 M Carey, 12 M O’Gara, 11 C Kennedy, 10 B Watson, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 J Dilger, 7 C Dempsey, 6 D Aspil, 5 L Curran, 4 P Starrett, 3 M McCormack, 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly (Capt), S Healy, N McEniff, N McCarthy, M Timmons, H Conway.