Naas RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
UB AIL Division 1B.
Saturday 1st December 2018.
The more mature membership will have fond memories of when Naas was known only for “De Naas Jewell Carriageway”. The only decent stretch of roadway in Leinster. Now Naas is a busy town and commercial hub, with a very fine rugby club at Forenaughts. St Marys, led by President Jack Ebbs on his birthday, visited there today for the first AIL match between the two clubs. There is, however, a long association between the two clubs going back to the 1960s. Jack got a very pleasant birthday present.
There are few more satisfying feelings than witnessing the steady, progressive development of a high quality project. The project in case is the moulding of the senior squad, in the hands of coaches, Steve, Jamie, Barry; management, Paudge, Pokie and Ruaidhri, with the vital support of Rugby Council’s Alan (DoR), Kevin and Eoin. Of course for the project to succeed there must be a leader and quality raw material. The Leader is dynamic, committed and inspirational, skipper, Marcus (Modser) and the young, eager and talented players are the material. There has been an increase in intensity of development in recent weeks and the coaches have spent long hours defining planning and coaching improvements in various areas. In particular:- line out defence, defensive and offensive mauls, overall defensive plugs and game management.
There has been a steady upwards curve of integration, understanding and skills since the summer training commenced and they are now reaching the high level of unified achievement required to command sustained success. We must now have real optimism that the level of achievement will continue with ultimate overall success.
It is not often understood how much selfless courage it requires to spend 80 minutes under continuous, concentrated physical bombardment; for that is what it is now in modern rugby. It also requires continuous mental awareness. It is even harder when a team has not the same maturity or bulk as the opposition. That is why today this team came of age.
St Marys were lighter physically, far less experienced than their opposition, but not so in sheer stomach tearing, lung searing grit. They dominated the lineouts, they dominated the scrums, and they dominated the mauls in defence and attack, brilliantly. That is not to say Naas were inferior, they had and held more possession, they ran hard and straight, especially in the second half and made it a memorable contest. Their body position, and ruck control, were highest quality, ensuring that high percentage possession. They had experienced Johnny Murphy in the centre and former contracted player Fionn Carr on the wing, both constant threats.
The second half, Marys were in the trenches, side by side, covering each other, driving each other, tackling, scragging, surging out, and never wilting; then finding power to push forward with some coruscating sorties. What a glorious array of character and togetherness. Then there were the supporters, nearly as many as the locals urging on, cheering, and Rynner came along today and he got them organised, Marys; Marys; Marys, boomed out when most needed, the team responded and they came again and surged again, never giving up. That almost psychic link between supporters and team was today, cemented. This will go down as one of the most admirable victories in recent Marys’ history. It may also be a launch of a march forward to sustained success. Of course there is much further to go and lots to learn. It is essential not to lose this momentum for next week we entertain a highly rated Banbridge and will need to be at the highest level of concentration and endeavour to succeed. The supporters too, shall need more Marys, Marys, Marys and in great numbers.
If, as has been common over the years, players being rated, then not one Marys’ player would have received less than 8. That was the secret of success, Team. From the skipper down, all were heroic. It is hard when all are worthy of exceptional mention, to select a SoftCo MoM. However, that is an award that is a fine part of our culture now, and is, for a player, something that he will cherish as a little memento in time ahead. David Aspil, was ill and might not have played, but with that dedication that is a mark of this squad he turned out; and how he turned out. He has class. David has all the rugby skills, added to stamina and heart. Today he was a silent, prowling predator, cutting down attackers, and a powerful pile-driver as he carried ball time after time. His full power too, goes into set pieces. He is an astute footballer and uses the ball productively. He just had that extra to receive the SoftCo MoM award.
It was clear from the kick off that this was going to require something extra and sustained. And that is what we got. In a misty rain we went on the attack and after seven minutes were rewarded with a very fine penalty from Deano, who had a particularly good game, once again. He is building a quality partnership with Paddy O’Driscoll, who again this week excelled in his kicking and game management. It was 14 minutes when we had a marvellous maul disrupted illegally over the line, and received a penalty try. This was exactly what was needed to boost belief. Naas came back and got a penalty on 16 minutes; and then a well worked try in the corner after 30 minutes. We rolled up the sleeves and worked our way down to the attack zone. We had a scrum near the Naas 10 metre line Paddy delivered a flat ball to Deano, who sent it on to Myles and in a beautiful, classic outside centre break, he swayed outside his marker, straightened and delivered to Craig. Still a lot to do, Craig went with total turbo-thrust outside his winger, and left two covering defenders to score a lovely try. It was 8-15, after a controlled half by the visitors.
The second half became a red hot furnace with Naas running hard straight lines, their hard low rucking giving good possession. It meant it was mainly a defensive period when the understanding and confidence in each other became vital; and it never failed. What a response came from the young team, and the replacements who fitted in with exactitude. When we had the bail we used it cleverly and having won a penalty far out. Deano said no problem, and he converted a long-range kick of highest quality, on 54 minutes, 8-18. On 62 minutes Marys went to the corner and won the lineout, it was maul time again. The maul, stalled then moved, swayed and swung, then one by one backs joined in and over all went with, rugged Richie at the bottom and the ball. 8-23. The blood was up, and near the end the Marys neophytes were hungrily seeking a fourth try and were just thwarted on the line. But the cheers were reverberating around the grounds. It ended 8-23.The Naas team and supporters were all gracious and we celebrated, demurely of course.
Team (Rolling Replacements X12)
15 D Fanagan, 14 H Conway, 13 Myles Carey, 12 M O’Driscoll (Capt), 11 C Kennedy, 10 C Dean, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 N McCarthy, 7 R Watters, 6 D Aspil, 5 L Curran, 4 L Corcoran, 3 M McCormack, 2 S O’Brien, 1 T O’Reilly, R Halpin, P Dundon, H Diepman, D Mc Donnell, R Shields.