Naas RFC V St Mary’s College RFC
Energia AIL Division 1B.
29th November 2019
The fear-not Dreadnaughts came to Forenaughts, under cover of darkness, but before the end of the night, they sparkled into the bright lights of joyous fulfilment.
This was an enchanting encounter, with two exciting and exuberant teams playing with abandon.
The Marys’ performance was often punctuated with breath stalling incidents, when disaster seemed definite, only to grasp a reprieve. There were ill judged, misguided passes, snatches and miskicks. Well if there were, they were due to an enthusiastic band of young effervescent and skilled adventurers. What was however the essence of this remarkable game, was defiant defence, born of club and team fidelity. Any St Mary’s College RFC member of mature age, will remember that, the badge was always of bravery, skill and loyalty. This is how the present squad has evolved. It is not from the ether this has come about, but due to the nature of the squad and the profound influence of head coach, Steve Hennessy, and his talented colleagues of coaching and management.
The last ten minutes, down to 14 men due to a yellow card, when Naas were pouring into our 22 with stunning intensity, the flame of a fearsome defence was lit. Tommer’s team became men. They were adamantine, as they flung themselves at a torrent of attackers. Time after time, the ball went right to left, left to right, we were short out wide, they must score, but indomitable will drove drained bodies across the gap, and fingers grasped and shoulders hit. Lineouts were taken, mauls were formed and sacked, green masses assailed the white magnet, the mighty men of the pack, repelled the surge. Oh’ would that magic note ever sound to still our hearts and pacify our fears. Six points ahead, seven for the taking. The ball was flung wide with wild intent, yet somehow there was a blue winger, a fullback, a flanker to scrag or drag or drive the invader to the ground. On it went, it seemed eternal. Admiration too for the green tide, but love for star and all within, held fast and yes, that note sounded and silence hit the frozen night air. It was over. 10-16.
Long before this, we had had chances to close the game out, but it was not to be. But make no mistake this was a performance of true joyous togetherness that fused the bond of team and coaches to club and support.
There was besides much to admire. The first game in some time, it can be reported that the lineout was top class. It was a perfect union of jumpers, callers and shooters. The maul continued to be potent and controlled, while our defence of maul was impressive and urgent. The scrum which has been our most effective weapon had a mainly good night, but faced a formidable challenge. The use of replacements, especially in AIL, where only five active subs are allowed with 12 rolling substitutions permitted during the game, can be tactically defining. Tonight those substitutions and realignments had significant effect.
With all the team again deserving of unreserved praise, there were two stand out performances, one in the pack and one in the backline. Cormac Foley at nine was inspirational at times, highly skilled and fast, sniping especially from broken play, covering and tackling. He is a most important player to the team and a real leader.
Cillian Dempsey, since his arrival this season, has fitted in, been a hard-working and important part of the backrow. Tonight, returning to Naas, where he was playing last season, he was highly impressive. He covered the field like a powerful, prowling panther. He was indefatigable as he crushed carriers, he used the ball intelligently and kept possession when needed. His support play was notable, in those vital stages his legs might have been wobbling with fatigue, but he took not a backward step as he smashed ball carriers. His contribution was enormous and he was deservedly awarded the much sought after SoftCo MoM award.
From kick off the visitors attacked and built a quick rhythm and spent long periods in the Naas half. There was a lot of space behind the rush defence of the home team which begged a chip, or well directed ball into the ample out field. Marys kept on the pressure. There were a few missed chances so, it was not until the 33rd minute that a score was registered; a penalty from Ruairi Shields, 0-3. Two minutes later Naas levelled with an Osbourne penalty, 3-3. It was then 38 minutes when Ruairi scored again, so it was 3-6 at half time.
The second half started at the same fast pace as the first. On 47 minutes a quick lineout by Naas near our 22, saw them run the ball wide left to right, recycle and run it back quickly right to left a missed tackle gave them the break they needed to go over in the corner. A fine conversion and it was 10-6.
Marys increased the pace and put considerable pressure on the Naas defence, however it was not until 64 minutes that Mick O’Gara, now at 10, converted a fine penalty to make it 10-9. Then four minutes later a break down the left wing ended with the ball going to Craig Kennedy, who was in fine form tonight; he saw a chance and fairly whizzed through the cover to score wide out. That was no burden on Mick, who again hit the ball perfectly and through the posts, 10-9. Marys, Marys, Mary, exploded into the night air, the first time for a considerable period.
Then started that frenetic fight back by Naas who showed tenacity and hunger as they ran the ball from everywhere. It was to no avail and Marys stood firm. The game ended 10-16.
Sitting prettily at fourth on the table is very rewarding for all the hard work. However, Shannon is our next assignment. It may be the Xmas season but Shannon will not be giving us presents and they always pose a great challenge, especially at home. We probably need to be a little more careful of the ball and play the spaces better. However, this team is improving weekly and deserve their the table, position; they will be well prepared for the joust. For those of you preparing to go note that the game is on earlier than usual, with a 1.30 PM kick-off.
Team up with Tommer
Team (Rolling Replacements X12) 15 M Fogarty, 14 H Conway, 13 M Carey, 12 M O’Gara, 11 C Kennedy, 10 R Shields, 9 C Foley, 8 N McCarthy, 7 C Dempsey, 6 D Aspil, 5 L Corcoran, 4 P Starrett, 3 M McCormack, 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly (Capt), S Healy, , P Dundon , L Curran, S Heeran, R O’Loughlin, (B Watson