St Mary’s College RFC V Lansdowne FC
Friday 14th December 2012.
There were Sweeneys, Fanagans, Kennedys and Fannings everywhere to be seen around the old Donnybrook Stadium,so it sort of had to be that historic Leinster Senior League Cup (LSLC) competition. These families are strongly associated with memorable successes in this competition and withChristmas almost on us; of course, it was the final of LSLCand what a cracker it was; I could hardly believe my mince pies! We had presents galore and sizzling rugby tied up in iced winds and ribbons. Who says you cannot smell rugby history and nostalgia come to life?
Ah what a treat it was, with wonderful fluent rugby. There was lots of, ball in hand, running, ironically, Chips may be one of my favourite players, however, the other chips orgarryowens are not to my liking, it is kicking away possession, and so I was greatly pleased with this game. As is said, it takes two to tango and if not always dancing,Lansdowne were equally impressive and adventurous and so the game was fabulously feverish and refreshing. The skill levels were tops and the Marys’ set pieces were highly satisfactory and showed definitely we are hitting top form in time for the post Xmas rush; there may have been a little slackness in defence early in the game but, importantly, it was tightened. And as for performances, Marys were filled with fine performances. In fact, Lansdowne too had skill to spare and being lighter they tried incessantly to run the game with pace. In fact, for the first quarter on an hour they appeared to be succeeding, running in two tries and giving Marys a fright, but how we responded showed that Hugh, James and Steven had their lads well prepared and the result is a credit to theteam and the coaching and management groups.
The Skipper, Richard (Chips) Sweeney was a true leader and had a dynamic performance, well backed up by Colm (the Chief) Mc Mahon and his brother (Chops) in the front rowand it was only right that that should be so when one recalls that in 1971-72 their dad JB Sweeney, brought home the first Leinster Senior League and had played a major role in the famous Sean Lynch 1969 Leinster Senior Cup win. What a proud day it was for all the Sweeney family, including their mother Joyce who never misses a game and has every railingand hoarding in club rugby terrified of her as batters her way around the country unswervingly and loyally following the team and her boys. Did we spy a tiny tear in the great JB’s eye afterwards as he happily relaxed in the company of other great Marys’ men, Frank and Terry Kennedy and Matt Gilsenan?
I have to mention, 13, Marcus O’Driscoll. Since he joined the club, he has grown in confidence and every game now he demonstrates more his astounding ability. He has adamantine defence, intelligent vision, strong acceleration with authentic pace and good hands, he had Lansdowne mesmerised throughout the game and in the first half, he scattered and shredded them on numerous occasions, even from his own half, leading to tries. He was undoubtedly my man of the match and a true pleasure to watch. All on the team played with verve, concentration and utter commitment and likewise showed their true from, shortening a long December night.Robbie Hudson partnered Marcus well and worked hard all game and got a fine try. Conor Hogan is a talented rugby player and put his wax seal on the game with a super try. Once again, I have to marvel at the latent brilliance of Stevie Wonder Toal–Lennon who did many sparkling things, oftenextemporising and had a sixty metres slalom, weaving his way through several Lansdowne players to be stopped just short;however, following up was Steve Bradshaw, on hand to score under the posts and effectively wrap up the game mid second half. It was very good to see Steve Bradshaw back after prolonged injury and he settled in well, coming on in the second half to replace young tyronic Jerry Sexton who has grown into the team structure over the past few months and who had a fine game, partnering the granite Ciaran Ruddock. But the biggest, pleasantest surprise was to see Darragh Fanning, star of a couple of seasons ago, son of former inter-provincial, international player and club captain Declan, home from Australia and appearing on the wing and what an appearance it was. He was like a rabid Roo out of the bush, as he swept down the wing or drove runners into the dust. Welcome home Darragh, what a Xmas present for his mother, Eileen, a great Marys’ woman and worker.
No current Marys’ team would be complete without the dynamic duo, Duracell D’Arcy and Marvel Man Brophy and again tonight, they did all asked of them and kept the pace on the game and led all the way, while speaking of leaders Kevin Croke lead with authority and action all over the (Croke) Park. He was well backed up in the backrow by Kurt Haupt, Gareth Austen and Kevin Sheahan. All others who came on too impressed and added to a marvellous team achievement. A pity it was that young talented Chris Lilly had to withdrawinjured, before the game and Jack Mc Grath had to play in the Leinster A game, but congratulations to Jack as he was ordained captain.
Sad it is to reflect that less than 200 supporters attended, so less than a hundred from each club were there to see what was superb game of rugby in a competition that is part of Dublin rugby club heritage. And most old Marys or Lansdowne men will have fond memories of the competition and the echoes ofCome on Parmo or Now Town or foot rush fellas or even halfsense an after–game naughty tryst behind the stand with Swinging Sarah or Mellifluous Molly. After games then, the men went into town to the Palace or the Paradiso for luscioussteaks while we walked home and ate chips from a bag on the way; if we were lucky.
Anyway, tonight all our lads had a right to celebrate inwhatever way and savour a magnificent win, a trophy won and the ignition spark for the rest of the AIL campaign, commencing against Clontarf, at home, on January 5th 2013. They deserve to have a happy and relaxing Christmas. Likewise, our much admired and popular president Michael Fanagan, has a trophy to shine over the holiday; a trophy with great significance for the Fanagan family. It must be well done to him too. It is often forgotten how much work the president does and how important he is to success, as he leads and interacts with all those involved in running the club in allrespects. Michael is particularly good in these aspects and spends immense time and energy in bringing the club forwardin rugby and administratively.
The Team (Rolling substitutions)
15 C Hogan, 14 S Toal-Lennon, 13 M O’Driscoll, 12 R Hudson, 11 D Fanning, 10 P Brophy, 9 M D’Arcy, 8 K Croke, 7 G Austen, 6 K Haupt, 5 G Sexton, 4 C Ruddock, 3 Robert Sweeney, 2 Richard Sweeney (Capt), 1 C Mc Mahon. K Sheahan, A Lyons, D Fawsitt, C Mc Mahon, R Glynn, G Dunne.