City of Armagh R F C V St Mary’s College RFC
UB. AIL Division 1B
The Palace Grounds
9th March 2019.
The Orchard County, as the score indicates, was not fruitful ground for the visiting team today,. We were overpowered and outplayed by an impressive all action team. We came to the Palace Ground with high hopes after a top class performance last week. We got a flying start with a beautifully judged intercept try from hard working Paddy (Padjo) O’Driscoll, yet could not rise to the same levels as our last game. We did get three tries, but, try as we did, could not get the fourth that would have given us a bonus point. Form, and its fluctuations, is always difficult to understand. No team ever decides not to perform to the highest level and certainly not this group of players, which is honest, skilful and committed. It was in fact, just one of those days. Our support turned up and were at full decibels on occasions, but even this failed to ignite the fuse.
We were unfortunate to have top performers Ronan Watters and Conor Dean withheld by IRFU and Connacht, and then lost Hugo Diepman to injury in the warmup just to add to the injury list. Playing with 14 men for a quarter of the game, due to two yellow cards, of course did not help our cause However, most of all it has to be admitted that City of Armagh played with exuberance, skill and with bounding pace. They ran the ball from the start, and from everywhere on the field. They possess a fine big, powerful pack and their backs are skilful. On the day they outplayed us and deserved their victory.
We found it difficult to get possession and then to hold on to it. Our half backs did well under pressure, with both scoring excellent individual tries, David Fanagan’s try was an exceptional individual effort and he backed it too, with a solid defensive effort. Myles Carey is a young player with notable talent, he has shown unusual commitment, skill and courage, playing all season with a chronic shoulder injury requiting surgery. Again today, beside his skipper, he showed all that and did everything he could, with probes and bursts and brave defence all the game. He rightly earned the SoftCo MoM award.
This is a game we will not recall with affection, but we must move on now to two home games in a row that will decide our season, and our fate. We must win both, with Ballymena calling to us on 23rd March, and Malone on 6th April. Both will be difficult but if we can re-create our true form, we will do it. We must all now prepare in every way possible at all levels. This is the serious end of the season. We lie 8th on 35 points ahead of Buccaneers on points difference. We are two points behind Old Belvedere and Banbridge.
Armagh started off at terrific pace and ran hard from every position of the field. While running out of defence, Padjo read a pass to perfection, intercepted and fairly flew in from halfway. He converted his try, 0-7.The home side scored a penalty on 15 minutes and three minutes later scored a very well worked try with a wide move and the player coming against the grain and in under the posts, 10-7. A scintillating break from his own half by David Fanagan, when he slalomed through several defenders, led to a brilliant try converted, by Padjo. It was 10-14.
On 26 minutes a bewildering series of phases and passes led to top class try for Armagh, 17-14. A penalty by Armagh on 35 minutes finished the scoring for the half. It ended 20-14.
The second half was only four minutes old when a lineout 25 metres out by the home team led to a maul which they marched over the line; 27-14. It was 57 minutes and another maul, multiple drives and wide to space gave them another try, sadly it was 34-14 and not looking good for the Dublin visitors.
Marys rallied and worked very hard to get up-field to the Armagh line and eventually with drives and hard work we got over on 78 minutes to make it, after the conversion 34-21. We hoped briefly for a fourth try but the ball spurted out from a ruck, It was picked up by a home player and he galloped up along the touch line and made the final score 39-21.
Yes a lot of work to do before the 23rd and we must continue our support and make it even more feverish. We will prevail, but it will take total concentration and effort from players, coaches, management, backup systems and supporters. So let us do it.
Team (Rolling Replacements X12)
15 R Shield, 14 H Conway, 13 Myles Carey, 12 M O’Driscoll (Capt), 11 C Kennedy, 10 D Fanagan, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 N McCarthy, 7 S O’Brien, 6 D Aspil, 5 L Corcoran, 4 M Fallon, 3 M McCormack, 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, G O’Brien, P Dundon, D Lyons, M Fogarty, T McMahon.