Naas RFC 30 V St Mary’s College RFC 32
Energia AIL Division 1B.
12th November 2022
Almost redolent of summer, the unseasonably mild weather, 16°C, made the surrounds of Forenaughts clement, and so without forethoughts of Forenaughts, we ventured forth. Over many years the two clubs have had multiple crossovers of players and coaches and many happy memories. Our personable and popular president Gareth Roche and his officers were warmly welcomed by President Paul Stapleton and his committee. There was a fair turnout of supporters of both clubs, considering that the game overlapped with an international match at the Aviva Stadium.
This was a match for the brave, for the strong and resolute. In recent years the games between the two clubs have been highly competitive and sporting and so it was again today. It could not have been closer, with only two points separating the teams in the end. Although skilful and tough it did lack the fluidity of recent games. The staccato nature was dictated by the exigencies of highly competitive breakdowns and set pieces and the frequency of errors. All that said, it was entrancing in its intensity. It would be fair to say that St Marys shaded it and deserved their slim but wholesome win. A feature of the win was how important was the timing and quality of the replacements. This was in the context of Michael McCormack out after an operation for an appendectomy and Ronan Foley also out. Great credit must be accorded Sean Cronin and his colleagues (Jamie, Marcus and Conor), in this regard.
The value of and importance of this win, which puts us in second place, only one point behind leaders Buccaneers, were not lost on super Skipper Ronan Watters and his St Marys’ team. The supporters were overjoyed with it. It was credit to the overall planning and work of DoR, Alan Shirley and his rugby council (RC), who were there to see the fruit of their labour. Likewise the dedicated Senior Squad Manager, Paudge McGill and colleagues (Paul Conlan, Conor O’Neill and Paul Pender), were glowing. To see the happiness on the faces of President Gareth, his Vice President Bobby O’Connor and his officers was uplifting. All the parents group were in joyous assembly, as were faithful long-term supporters such as Louis McMullan, Gerry Rylands, Spike, Liam Birkett, Kevin Conboy, Brian Mc Laughlin, John Pyne and many others. We often forget the work of behind the scenes men like Club Physiotherapist, Davy Lyons, and Club Referees Affairs Officer, Ian Bloomer, they are there at every match and it was good to see their happiness.
Last visit here was for an unloved Friday evening encounter in December. We lost then, in spite of our current skipper, Ronan Wattters, acting skipper for that night, having a game that was an apotheosis, and receiving the SoftCo MoM award. He had his usual high octane performance here today. There was an overall high quality team performance. The pack worked tirelessly and eventually edged the battle. There were a few wobbles in the lineout, a couple of defensive lapses out wide and a noticeable penalty count. Without the Mighty Mick McCormack, the scrum had to work even harder than usual and all rose to the challenge. The front row stood up to the intense battle, each of the six on show excelling, but one man, Adam Mulvihill, not only stood out in that respect but his overall performance was coruscating as he was involved everywhere, rucking hard, foraging and even on the wing carrying; and indeed scoring a try. With the standard he has reached it is hard to imagine that he is only off the U20s. He was clearly outstanding and deservedly received the SoftCo MoM Award.
The way that Sean has arranged it, the second row has a rotational system allowing three or four top players carry the load. Today, Dan Leane, Peter Starrett, Harry McDonald and Liam Corcoran (coming back from a rib injury), all made important contributions to the win. A backrow led by Ronan Watters will always be excellent and so it was again today, Ronan flanked by Niall Hurley and Ethan Baxter. Niall; is like the Mounties, he always gets his man and Ethan today was Perpetuum immobile, as he scoured the pitch for work. Behind the scrum we are bountiful in having three receivers, with high class, Conor Dean at Ten, having two superb support receivers in Mick O’Gara and Conor Hickey, there for variations (without Paganini). Young Adam McEvoy gets better each game, and he has Andrew Walsh, in support. The outside three, are an elusive four and rapid. Magic Mark Fogarty can bamboozle defences and is intuitive in his decisions and the now experienced Ryano is a gem to be taken from the pocket to sparkle, they are flanked by the Astral Gemini, Hugo Conway and Stephen Kilgallen. What a group, with a fair few standing by awaiting their chances. Sadly, we are also without a few out injured, particularly Craig Kennedy, who received that horrible knee injury last weekend. It was uplifting to see him there in a cast today, supporting his teammates, along with his dad and mum, Frank and Joss. That famous Kennedy spirit will get him through.
There was a breeze behind Naas in the first half and they made good use of it through the half. The match had just got the sleep from its eyes, when the first score came from Hugo on four minutes, a sharp move initiated by the two Conors, and after a ruck it was swept out to Mark who made ground and timed his pass to Hugo who skimmed in; Mick O’Gara converted, 0-7. Naas got a penalty back when it was nine minutes and they scored a good try from a cross kick when it was 17 minutes.10-7. From loose play on 24 minutes, Conor Hickey weaved his way through a logjam of defenders to score a sweet try and Naas replied with super one of their own, winger Conroy taking an exceptional vector; 17-12 . Mick O’Gara got three points back with a penalty, 32 minutes, 17-15, but Naas made it 20-15 with a penalty from Ronaldson. That was the score at half time.
The second half was three minutes old when Mick added another penalty, 20-18. After a multi phased attack on 49 minutes Adam McEvoy, wriggled over and we led again, 20-25. And it was 25-25 when we were caught out in the corner on 59 minutes, having withstood intense pressure for several minutes. The resolute skipper, Ronan rallied his forces and mounted waves of attack which eventually paid off on 75minutes, with a penalty to the corner, a well-controlled maul and Adam Mulvihill getting over, Mick converted well. 25-32.It looked to be all over, but Naas were not giving up, and they got a scrum following a knock on and the succeeding multiphased attack gave them a try in the corner. It was 30-32 with the conversion to come. Fortunately for St Marys, it was narrowly wide and that is how it finished 30-32. We got 5 points and Naas got 2.we will meet again.
There was rightful joy and we can look forward with confidence to our next game after a week off. We then face a triple tornado of tests, with Buccaneers visiting us in two weeks’ time,26th November, then we have Old Wesley away, 3rd December and Highfield at home on 10th December, before the Christmas break in AIL until 14th January 2023.
The vintage is maturing nicely and Chateau Templeville looks like a Grand Cru. We will all enjoy it, but we must be patient and support
Remember the 26th you must come along to Templeville Road and Remember get there and 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 Watters (Capt.), 7 E Baxter, 6 N Hurley, 5 D Leane, 4 P Starrett, 3 J Reidy-Walsh, 2 S O’Brien,1 A Mulvihill. R Halpin, P Dundon, H MacDonald, A Walsh, R O’Loughlin, L Corcoran.