St Mary’s College RFC V Old Belvedere RFC
Energia AIL Division 1 B
14th December 2019.
Hello to all.
Ding Dong, Merrily on High. It was a ding-dong tussle to the end, and although not on high we are merrily higher than before. That makes all of us at Templeville Road merry at this time of year. We have same points total, 22, as Malone, who are in 5th place, and one behind Old Belvedere who have 23 points. So with half the campaign gone we are nicely placed to continue an upward trajectory.
There was much to admire about today’s performance and indeed the whole day. The determined endeavour, the sheer will to win, and the defiant defence shown today, have all become part of Tommer’s Terriers.
From the moment of assembly there was an uplifting frisson of excitement and bon homie, at St Mary’s College RFC. Today, was the day of our club Xmas lunch and day-long party; and a great day it was. The lunch was a harbinger of what was to come as it was harmonious, carefully crushed, and cosy. The vice president and Hon Secretary, Patrick Crawford, welcomed all and regaled all with directions and visions of the exits. (No don’t leave yet, I thought!). The president, Michael O’Flaherty who has excelled in his presidential role, welcomed and roll-called with gratitude and Xmas greetings for all. The meal by Vinny Hanlon, was of fitting quality to enhance any special day and of course our invaluable and meticulous administrator, Marie Hammond, had the entire clubhouse ornate, sparkling and resplendent in Santa red and white, club blue and white; and with glistening trees.
Besides our good friends from Old Belvedere and our sponsors, there were many old Marys’ men. A treat, was a goodly group of the 1999-2000 AIL winning team, with Popey and Hoover in control and great players (many looked as though they could help out on the field today) Denis Hickie, Mal and Trevor, The Bomber, Micky (the Fish) Corcoran and Kevin Devlin. Another of those heroes, Victor Costello, gave a perfectly weighted and most amusing dissertation, to set up the rest of the day.
When the final score shows one point separating the teams, it is clear that it cannot be a closer win and that is how it was. We can anticipate our return game on 11th January at Ollie Campbell Park, being another fierce but fair match. This was an excruciatingly close game, with Belvo having a considerably bigger and heavier pack, especially at 4, 5 and 6. They were well organised and had a strong defensive game. Our scrum, was once again on top and although Belvedere’s big men ensured a reliable lineout stream, our own lineout was much improved from last week. Our loose game and backline alignment were sharp, with several good turnovers in important situations. We are still inclined on occasions, to leap before we look.
It must be somewhat frustrating for the coaches and management, while playing with a hill and a substantial wind, the players demonstrate their prestidigitation and flamboyant footwork well back in their own half, instead of employing a judicious punt down into the Gate Corner or Carvill Corner. For teams to be pinned in Carvill Corner, exiting is like trying to run up K2.
It is a bit unfair to mention individuals when this was explicitly, a team performance, with the pack being a true pack, hunting and defending in unison and the backline, sharp, effective and cohesive in all respects. However, it would be also unfair not to mention Ryan O’Loughlin, who is only working his way back from a layoff. He was the spark that turned the game for his team. He was watching for an opportunity and found one, when Marys were under pressure. From a quick penalty,he made an electric intervention (one of several), with a break from near his own 22 metres, to well into Belvos’s half and opened up the game, leading eventually to a Marys’ try. As against Naas, today against Belvedere, he brought off a couple of vital tackles. He showed his innate sense of the game, with timely covering across from one wing to the other. He is a natural and enthusiastic rugby player. Today he deservedly received the SoftCo MoM Award.
At this stage of the season, it would be only right to mention Hugo the great white (and blue) shark. He is deadly and again today he scored, when most needed, and when he got the ball in his hands, it was going to be a score. Today, he only arrived in time to go on the bench. He had no time to warm-up, as he had been doing important exams all morning; a dedicated Marys man.
We won the toss and decided to play towards the Road End and with the wind and slope. We got into the game well and indeed a great deal of the half, we were in attack mode, but when Belvo did get into a strike position they were very dangerous. It was 27 minutes before the first score was registered. It was a penalty, which Ruairi, who has been kicking well off the tee, dispatched, 3-0. Then, just a few minutes later, as frequently can be the case, on 21 minutes, Belvo levelled with a penalty, 3-3. It was 34 minutes when Ruairi speared another over, to bring it to 6-3. However, the half was almost over, 39 minutes, when a high tackle led to a St Marys’ yellow card and a penalty for Belvo, into the corner. Their secure lineout gave them possession, but as for the entire game, Marys cleverly and emphatically emasculated the following maul. OB took it on in drives and after a barrage, finished the half with try. 6-8.
The second half, required the host team to remain afloat with only 14 men for the first eight minutes. The lines were secured and then Marys pushed on. On 54 minutes, we won a penalty and Mick O’Gara, who had now clicked into 10, coolly hit it, and ensured that we were in the black again, 9-8. We then continued our quest and were fairly humming. After a brilliant and coruscating maul of over 30 metres, Marys were awarded a penalty for pulling it down. A scrum was taken and won, then a long intense and concentrated series of drives, strongly resisted by Belvo, ensued. Eventually the defence became slightly narrower and the ball came to that great white shark, Cormac and he fairly pierced the armour and went over in the Well Corner. That made it 14-8.
That was on the hour. It was the tinder that sent Belvo fairly on fire, as they tried everything to get back. Eventually they breached our defence with a try out wide. A sulking silence settled, the Belvo kicker hit it well, but Mirabile dictu, it swung wide of the posts. 35 minutes, 14-13.
Marys-Marys-Marys, rang out across the crackling air. It inspired our lads to heroic heights, with bodies flung around in rebellious resistance. On again came the Belvo titans. They were met on a steel line. Black and White surged, Blue and White, exploded back and so it went. Belvo in twos, in threes, in ones, wide; then direct. Sleight of hand, dummies, looped balls and grimacing grunts were all repelled. A slight slip, a covering tackle, as the backrow discharged themselves at the runners. Wingers, drove back, as men were strewn around the line. The dam must burst. Time hung back, yet it slowly crawled and eventually, the whistle pierced the December evening air. The line intact.14-13. A precious win.
Team up with Tommer
Team (Rolling Replacements X12)
15 M Fogarty, 14 D Fanagan, 13 M Carey, 12 M O’Gara, 11 R O’Loughlin, 10 R Shields, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 N McCarthy, 7 C Dempsey, 6 D Aspil, 5 L Curran, 4 H Diepman, 3 M McCormack, 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly (Capt), S Healy, N McEniff, J Dilger, B Watson, H Conway. P Dundon
So Far so Good
We have a break until 11th January in the New Year, when we meet Old Belvedere again. How well Tommer has done, as he has grown into his role as Skipper. He has earned the respect and admiration of his men and indeed his club. So good it is too, to see his parents throw themselves into their support role as they have been a great help to Tommer and the club.
The coaches, Steve, Jamie and Barry have been magnificent, developing the latent talent of this young gang of comrades. It has been inspiring watching the team’s development. They have some way to go, but have made marvellous strides. They continue that progress with a wonderfully cheerful attitude. They deserve their break from freezing, windy, wet evenings on the pitch. Also deserving of a break, is the management team, Paudge, Pokey, Rhuairi and Ian. As do the other important men behind the scenes, Rugby Council, Director of Rugby Alan Shirley, with Quinner, Paudge, Stephen and Kevin. We owe them all a big debt.
I have an explanation re. last week’s report. Someone thought, that I felt the team should sing after losing. In case anyone else misunderstood. I would never wish anyone to sing after losing, and am only mildly in favour of singing after winning, for obvious reasons. I was of course, only speaking of the fine and rousing air of our anthem, We are Marys Boys, which has been mainly lost to the player. I suggested, its resurrection and when we do sing the anthem, we do it with joy and in tune.
Finally, I want to thank you for your continued interest and wish you all a really great Xmas, come back to me, please, refreshed and ready to flash out of the traps into full support mode for our own special team, Tommer’s Terriers.