1st XV v Lansdowne (A) - 17.02.2018

Lansdowne FC V St Mary’s College RFC

16 9

AIL Division 1A

Lansdowne Road

Friday 17th February 2018.


A dirty night (cold and raining), a clean game, and lots of excitement; that was all. There was little between the teams, the excellent converted try by Lansdowne, being about the fair difference. We got a losing bonus point and that was more than many expected. Last visit, Lansdowne put 40 points on us, there was no way they were going to do that this time. That precious point added to the one earned last game, may well see us stay clear of relegation play-offs; much depends.

Artificial pitches have minds of their own, especially with regards to bounce, and none more so than the Lansdowne one. A bounce is a spontaneous reflective reaction, and this was not only evident with the ball tonight, but also with the players, as the game, from the first whistle, burst into a conflagration of rugby. It kept its almost pathological pace, for most of the game. This was a superb exposition of AIL club rugby, played in the most sporting, yet intense manner.

While St Marys had appreciatively more possession, Lansdowne had more bite to their wide attack. However, the home side kicked exceptionally badly and so, often surrendered attacking positions. There is evident improvement in the St Marys’ performances over the past few games and tonight there were many aspects of their game that give reason to believe.

Although three penalties were conceded second half, the penalty count was much reduced. Wide, or broken play, defence has been weak on occasions, all aspects of defence were locked tight tonight. The runners have not been taking ball at top pace needed to break the parity line. That is vital, and it was much improved especially in the first half. One person who epitomised this was Emmett Ferron, who just shot onto the ball, his tackling was also good and overall he had a fine game. Likewise, the lineouts were accurate and ball chase too, much improved. One person who soared in both aspects, was Cathal O’Flaherty, he did his essential chores, lineouts, scrums and rucking excellently, but his overall contribution for the entire game was exceptional. He made telling line breaks, offloaded impressively, he covered most ground, tackled hard and repeatedly followed up on kicks and loose balls. He received the SoftCo MoM award.

The most positive thing of all was the collective. It was a true team performance, led by their admirable captain, Ciaran Ruddock. Each one of the Marys’ players, played to their drop point. The halves controlled the game well, with Seanie vitally scoring all the points, three penalties. Paddy O’Driscoll played a crucial role with his decision making, strategic kicking and overall game; he is playing at his best now. The pack was a pack, together in all things and willing to face torture for each other, they prowled the park. They hurtled into rucks, they held their line, they covered together, they sweated together, they built together and they believed together. Front row, second row and back row they were one, they were defiant: - they were Marys. The backs too, held their line together, covered together and they supported each other, they held the ball well and rucked like forwards, they are maturing together. They welcomed young Mathew Tymmons at 15, after an unfortunate clash of heads at Thursday’s training left David Fanagan and Ian Cullinane out injured. We wish them both well. The passing and ball retention were very secure. Over four of the first five minute or so of the second half Marys held on to possession in attack, phase after phase; and during the last few minutes, again the visitors owned possession and ran, incessantly, at the Lansdowne defence.

Big congratulations are due to a number of our players, skipper, Ciaran Ruddock, loosehead prop, Tom(mer) O’Reilly and centre, Darren Moroney have been called up to the Irish Clubs’ squad and, tighthead prop Adam Coyle, has been taken into the Leinster set up. This is a great honour for the players themselves and for the club. We wish them great enjoyment and success. Their families too, will be rightly proud of them. It is always uplifting to see the support our lads get from their parents and families. Tommer’s and Richie Halpin’s mothers were, tonight, to be found running up and down sportingly cheering on the team.

We are now approaching what must be seen as the defining stages of the league. We have two home games to come and two away games. We must target home wins at least, and we now see, that those goals are achievable. We face UCD at home on Friday 2nd March. Friday games are very difficult for players who are working in the modern milieu. Nevertheless, we face the challenge with realism, yet belief and fierce determination. We achieved a hard earned victory on our visit to Belfield and will hope for a repeat win. At this stage all of our loyal supporters will understand that attendance is obligatory if we genuinely care about the season’s outcome. It will be a memorable night, so we must be there to enjoy sportingly, a top class game. Hopefully, you won’t have to bring along any Valium for president, David Fanagan.

Scoring sequence.

The game started at manic pace, with both sides handling the ball. After seven minutes, Sean Kearns landed a difficult penalty, 0-3. Three minutes later and after multiple phases, Lansdowne ran the ball wide, left to right and the winger, Danny McEvoy, stepped in and then out at pace, and scored a fine try. Veteran, Scott Deasy, converted from wide. 7-3. On17 minutes, Sean made it 7-6, with another fine penalty. And just before half time he made it 7-9. So Marys led at half time and both sides were playing attractive exciting rugby.

Second half saw Marys step up the pace even further and had the best of the game during the early part of the half. Fortunes swung until there was an hour gone, when Deasy got his first penalty and the home side were ahead, 10-9. On 78 minutes he made it 13-9 and on 81 minutes, 16-9. There were several minutes of injury time played during which, Marys held the ball, doing multiple phases but the Lansdowne defence was resolute and we could not make a breakthrough, either with wide attack or close carries. It ended 16-9.

D O’Brien

Team (Rolling Replacements X12)
15 M Timmons, 14 C Kennedy, 13 D Moroney, 12 Marcus O’Driscoll, 11 M Carey, 10 S Kearns, 9 P O’Driscoll, 8 N McCarthy, 7 R Watters, 6 D O’Connor, 5 C O’Flaherty, 4 C Ruddock (Capt), 3 E Ferron, 2 R Halpin, 1 T O’Reilly, H Kean, N McEniff, J Dilger, C Gilsenan, R Glynn,.