St Mary’s College RFC V Malone RFC
UB. AIL Division 1B
Saturday 6th April 2019.
“Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day” ?; yes, the weather was just right and the grounds pitch perfect, yet it was this result that had a more extreme beauty in its tremulous nature and terrifying uncertainty to the whistle’s final and definitive note.
There has seldom been in our club, such an explosion of joy and relief. The warm air shimmered with sparkles of emotion. The terraces and clubhouse swelled with happy Marys’ folk all, congratulating and hugging deliriously. These were good emotions devoid of triumphalism.
It would be hard to find two more evenly pitched teams, both with strong scrums, threatening mauls and inventive probes. This was a fascinating and vibrant joust that entertained all but those supporters with weak hearts or legs. The final four minutes were excruciatingly taut. The difference in the end was perhaps, need. The wonderful home support, (Marys, Marys Marys) again led by Rumbustious Rynner, was another tipping factor in this invaluable victory. Both teams can be proud of their contribution to what was the quintessence of AIL rugby. The game produced eleven sparking tries. Malone and St Marys have a long history of friendship and sporting interaction, long more may it continue.
This result means that St Marys are safe, 5th in Division 1B, which with this young talented and developing squad was the primary aim. There is very much to admire about the whole setup from star skipper, Marcus (Modser) and his exuberant players, through superb Steven and his coaching and management group to the admirable Alan and his rugby council. There is at least one more game V Ballynahinch next Saturday 13th April.
Malone’s hard running backs attacked out wide, using a blindside winger and a looping fullback, to draw in the wide defence, and make space on the flanks. Their pack was powerful and disciplined. Their ball retention was excellent as was their discipline.
There was combined determination in the home side that sizzled. We did fall foul of the referee on numerous occasions and there was certainly difficulty surrounding the offside law. However, the game was fast and entertaining all through. The home pack was heroic. The backrow was, once again highly effective in all aspects of play, with Ronan Watters supersonic. It is not the intention to mention every player of the match 20, just to say that all were emphatically heroic in their application. There were a number of players who further excelled, amongst those was Conor (Deano) Dean. He rose to colossal heights today in his game control and variation, and most of all his remarkable kicking. In fact, his long-range, match winning conversion of the final try, required a sangfroid that was phenomenal. This, along with his overall game, meant he received the SoftCo MoM Award.
Playing down to the Road End, Marys attacked from the start, however, Malone had a well organised defence and effected some good turnovers. On eight minutes following a scrum, brilliant Hugo Conway broke well and when caught near the line, the ball was recycled and after several phases Mark Fogarty, rounded his man and went over in the corner. Deano converted with aplomb. A fine wide move by Malone on 17 minutes reduced the lead to 7-5. Meanwhile the closest fought game was evolving.
On 36 minutes, having lost the ball at the lineout, Malone recycled it and attacked our line to score wide out; once again the conversion was not effected, so it was 7-10.and only two minutes later an intercept, when we were running the ball out of defence gave us a bit of a hill to climb, for a converted try brought the score to 7-17. That was how it was at half time
The second half was only four minutes gone, when from a lineout Malone got their impressive maul going and went over, then with the conversion, 7-24. It was now a sizeable iceberg we had to climb. It looked to most, as though it was all over and calculators were coming out. Modser’s men were not of the same mind, they put on the working clothes. It took only two further minutes for the riposte and it came in the form of a series of forward drives and then a hard break from Dan Lyons. He got to the line and a backward overhead (Drico style) stretch did the trick, Deano stroked it, and we were on our way again; 14-24. A long way to go and Malone were no soft touches, so a sporting battle royal ensued, the pace rose, the terraces rose, the heat rose, and steam rose.
On 53 minutes, we had our own maul moving, swaying and when it stalled, the backs joined the melee, including the skipper, he held the ball and then lunged over the line, far out in the Well Corner, Deano did not flinch, with poise he sent it sailing through the posts and we were inching up; 21-24. Hope? Was hope to be dashed? It looked that way, when Malone hit back with another mauled try on 58 minutes, bringing the score to 21-29.
Just over the hour, star winger Hugo Conway, taking on the ball from a defensive counterattack on 45 metres out, slipped his marker and zoomed away, with the defence closing, he put on the turbo and split the air with pace to score a superb try. Mirabile dictu, Deano did it again. We believed! 28-29. Deano was cool as ever, as he added a penalty on 67 minutes, to give us the lead, 31-29. The noise was cacophonic, Marys-Marys-Marys.
Our dreams were shattered on 72 minutes, when spirited Malone pressed up and recycled, a flat ball to the midfield and a miss-tackle gave them a run under the posts, 31-36.Despair set in around the grounds. However, in this team that radiates everything that is good about Marys and its proud and epic history, there was no thoughts of despair. Instead the air crackled as we went to work and nothing was going to deter these young tyros. Yes, on 78 minutes we attacked up the right wing and just past halfway, Ronan Waters got the ball, it became a blur, as like a supercharged cheetah he whizzed up the touch line, swaying past defenders and scoring a wonder try in the Well Corner.
Breaths, from Templeogue to Terenure were held and hush descended as from the touchline, on his wrong side, Deano prepared. He placed, he stepped back, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 paces; pause. He hit the ball, time stalled, hearts stalled, not the ball, it sailed through. A true beauty and hope. 38-36.
When the ball was kicked off by the visitors, it was held and run back. Then four of the tensest, longest but ultimately historic minutes ensued. Every man on the pitch did what he must with courage, passion and unyielding power. The home crowd erupted again, Marys-Marys-Marys seared the air. And then it was over. Relief, joy, pride and belonging.
Thank you, Malone and St Marys, for a sporting service to club rugby.
March with Modser
Team (Rolling Replacements X12)
15 R Shields, 14 H Conway, 13 D Moroney, 12 M O’Driscoll (Capt), 11 M Fogarty, 10 C Dean, 9 C Foley, 8 N McCarthy, 7 R Watters, 6 D Aspil, 5 L Corcoran, 4 G Logan, 3 M McCormack, 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, S O’Brien, P Dundon, D Lyons, P O’Driscoll C Kennedy.