St Mary’s College RFC V Old Wesley RFC
Energia AIL Division 1B
21st January 2023
We always look forward with pleasure to the visit of Old Wesley, almost as a family reunion, due to the warm friendships and relationships built over long decades and beyond. Of course that does not mean we include losing to them, which was the outcome today. Palmerian presidents, St Marys’ gaminesque, Gareth Roche and Wesley’s roborean Robbie Love, are close friends, so they and guests had a most entertaining and enjoyable pre-match lunch. There were there, a preponderance of notable Old Wesley and St Marys men mingling happily.
After a week of cold weather, it had changed by kick off, to a soft day for a hard match. It was Paul Pender’s first time standing in as senior manager for Paudge McGill as he commences his evolution to junior vice president and Paul takes over. Paul had a tough one to start, but he has the stuff for it, and has shown his abilities to manage develop and inspire, in his role (along with pal, Robbie O’Neill) in Youth Rugby and since on committee. His blazer fits well!
Until almost an hour had passed, this was a closely fought game but thereafter Old Wesley pulled away and ended up, deserved winners. Old Wesley had the preponderance of possession, running hard and straight, with a big mobile pack. The two Noonan brothers are fine athletes, Howard could easily play centre; and of course having Pims number 1 and 2, gives a boost!
St Marys had problems today, while the set pieces were good and our maul was strong, we turned over too many balls, and once again gave away a deluge of penalties. It is always difficult to prosper when haemorrhaging penalties. We had problems too behind the scrum, with difficulty making space and getting the ball out the line effectively; or mounting testing attacks or moves. St Marys had a back three who showed pace and appetite, but got little opportunity. All of this meant that the home side failed to instil pace and penetration into the game. We scored three tries, as did Old Wesley, it was the penalty count that ultimately made the difference.
The pack had some hard working performances, none more so than Skipper, Ronan Watters. This man is a consummate combatant. He is an admirable person and athlete, and is an intelligent rugby player. His work in the lineout is excellent, he takes on ball like a scud missile, and tackles with thunderous effect. He never shirks, he ever urges and leads heroically. Today he stood out at every stage of the game. He had to receive the SoftCo MoM Award.
The game was only three minutes old when following a lineout and ruck, Old Wesley’s 15, A Molloy, took a fine vector and sliced through the Marys’ defence, from 40 metres out and went in under the posts. They led 0-7, added a penalty on 30 minutes and on 38 minute. Marys got a pick and drive try through Stephen O’Brien, converted by the redoubtable Mick O’Gara. 7-10.That was how it finished at half time.
The second half started well for the home side as after 47 minutes we added a mauled try (Jack Reidy Walsh) and Mick’s conversion meant Marys led for the first time, 14-10. Then penalties for Wesley on 48, 52 minutes and a neat try by T O’Callaghan, from a cross kick, gave them a healthy lead of 14-23. They increased that further on 67 minutes with a mauled try by prop Noonan, 14-30. It was just gone 70 minutes and another mauled (Tommer O’Reilly), try by Marys and Mick’s conversion, got the score to 21-30. And that was how it finished.
We head down to Athlone next Saturday, to play second on the table Buccaneers. It is always a tough visit, so we need our A game and our Q support. Although we remain 6th on the table, it is within our reach to get back into the top hunt, but it will mean a big response from all. Most of all we must cut down the penalties, sharpen our alertness, concentration and ruthless effectivity. We must bring our potent weapons into play, by creating a little space for our wide men, whether on primary or secondary ball. And lastly we must feel our heritage our fervour our desire and explode into a controlled nuclear action.
The support has been faithful this season but needs to find its rumbustious, voice. Get together in boisterous bands and thunder. Marys-Marys-Marys
So come on and Roar on Ronan.
Team (12 rolling changes)
15 M Fogarty, 14 H Conway, 13 R O’Loughlin, 12 M O’Gara,11 S Kilgallen, 10 C Dean, 9 R Fahy, 8 R Watters (Capt.), 7 E Baxter, 6 D Leane, 5 L Corcoran, 4 P Starrett, 3 J Reidy Walsh, 2 S O’Brien,1 A Mulvihill. R Halpin, T O’Reilly, H MacDonald, N Hurley, A McEvoy, C Hickey.