University College Cork RFC V St Mary’s College RFC 25 - 20
Energia AIL Division 1B
15th October 2022.
One of the oldest rugby clubs in Ireland, dating back to 1872, UCC RFC has much to be proud of. However, it is hard to relate its venerability to its impressive, modern surroundings. A really lovely setting. This sports centre has all contemporary requirements for modern sport, including a fine senior rugby pitch. The members also add to its welcoming demeanour if not the venerability, and they treated their visitors generously and warmly.
However, whether a Google Maps conspiracy or malfunction, a number of the Dublin visitors, including your correspondent, were led on a protracted and bewildering tour of the Cork by the system, while refusing to direct the travellers to the grounds to allow them enjoy that hospitality until after kick off. There was an almost perceptible sneering snigger to be heard from the tinny voice having visited Musgrave Park and Wilton, for the fourth time. That said the ruffled travellers arrived in time to see the great proportion of the game, and to feel the added pain of a loss. The losing bonus point and decision leading to its harvesting, did give some comfort.
The conditions were to say the least, rather testing, with a strong slanting crosswind and vicious squalls. The home side had an advantage in this respect, they knew their pitch extremely well and understood its caprices in the wind. They therefore kicked better, in fact in the second half they used the wicked wind as an ally and this made a big difference, as the visitors kicking was then wayward, costly, and sometimes unnecessary. From mid-first half to half time especially, St Marys looked to be in control and one would have arrogated an away win. However, in the second half the wind did its worst and UCC took control for the most part, although overall there was little between the sides and given better conditions, it is likely Ronan’s side would prevail. The scrum was this week again, in command, in spite of a young inexperienced set of props; they must take real credit. With the wind and rain, lineouts were erratic and the tackling too was undependable. In spite of the result and the difficulties, it is clear that this is a talented and potent side, with superb captain, several experienced leaders, an astute and talented coaching group and dedicated management. It also is noteworthy that one five point win would hoist the team, depending on other results, up to near top. With three games, (two away) only played we have 8 points, showing already how important a bonus point can be.
Conditions or not, we had some stout performances. Generally the pack showed strongly, with a high class backrow (Ronan Foley has made a quality impression since joining the squad) and, the often unsung deep-pit miners of the second row, which today prevailed over most difficult conditions. Peter (Wang) Starrett has become a very valuable and wily engine to the team, new addition Harry Mac Donald, is settling in nicely and showing his prowess on the field and Liam Corcoran has developed classically to becoming a major power on the team. Today he stood out, working incessantly to the time of a painful rib injury, he was active as a jumper, lifter, ball carrier, a source of important ballast in mauls and rucks and was seen to support and drive on his teammates, he scored the third try from the maul. He well deserved to receive the SoftCo MoM Award. Behind the pack, Adam McEvoy took his try cleverly, was active in support and defence and gave a clean service; all under the difficult conditions.
It was 15 minutes, when the first score was registered, after a maul, Adam McEvoy skipped around and behind the packs and went over, 0-5. Ten minutes later UCC scored, the left winger running from 35 metres up along the right touchline, through some weak tackling, and slipping the ball inside to support, near the line for a good try 7-5.
St Marys looked stronger and more direct now and on 32 minutes after much pressure, and a penalty leading to a lineout, the maul was well controlled, and led to, new to the senior squad Jack Reidy Walsh, introducing himself with the try, converted from far out by Mick O’Gara, 7-12. Just on half time we repeated the procedure on the far side of the pitch, when Liam Corcoran got the ball down and it was 7-17. We looked the appreciably stronger side at this stage.
The conditions deteriorated with a wild wind and searing squalls. As the half progressed, local pitch and conditioned knowledge (Pavlov) started to tell, as almost every kick UCC made seemed to be inch perfect, in spite of the weather situation, often ones we made were picked up with élan and run back. The wind caused problems for both sides with lineouts too. On 57 minutes UCC scored from a penalty 13-17. And on 62 minutes after a lost lineout. UCC ran it along the line and went through to score out wide, it was 18-17. And the home side continued to push home their advantage. They ended the scoring with a good try run up along the touchline from their own half, beating the defence and scoring under the posts. 25-17. Just on full time, Marys got a penalty 25 metres out. A try would give two losing bonus points, a penalty converted, one. They discussed, but Captain Ronan made the decision to go for the posts, considering the how the wind was affecting the lineouts. He made the right one, Mick lined it up but would the wind take it wide. He rightly took his time and hit it perfectly, it swayed in the air, but it was true. It ended 25-20. We got our point. Thank you Mick.
Next Saturday, we entertain City of Armagh and we hope our supporters with a win. Armagh were beaten by one point at UCC and won two home games against Buccaneers and Old Wesley, two impressive triumphs. They are only two points ahead of us, they have 10 we have 8. However, we have played two away and one at home. So it should be a very close encounter. Knowing our situation and squad, I would feel that we will shade it and maybe a little more. We will be without today’s SoftCo MoM Liam Corcoran (two cracked ribs), however, Michael McCormack, Tommer O’Reilly, and Craig Kennedy should be available. Sean, Jamie and Conor will no doubt be working on several aspects that appear to need tightening and polishing, defence, decision kicking and targeted rucking. Once again remember to come along you are needed and never more so, this is an important juncture. Be there to Roar on Ronan.
Team (12 rolling changes)
15 C Hickey, 14 H Conway, 13 M Fogarty, 12 M O’Gara,11 S Kilgallen, 10 C Dean, 9 A McEvoy, 8 R Foley, 7 D Leane, 6 R Watters (Capt.), 5 L Corcoran, 4 P Starrett, 3 J Reidy Walsh, 2 R Halpin,1 A Mulvihill. D Lyons, P Dundon, H MacDonald, E Baxter, A Walsh, T McMahon, Billy Hamilton, H Lane.