NUI Barnhall RFC J1 25 V St Mary’s College RFC J1 20
Metro League 1.
Sunday 2nd April 2023
The St Marys J1 management had mustered a strong assemblage of players for this important relegation decider. NUI Barnhall had done likewise and together they served up a fast paced zip-zap special. Unfortunately, the last play decided the game in favour of the home team, when it appeared extra time would be required. We will drop a division next season.
There was a good cohort of Marys’ officials and supporters there, including a number of the Senior Players, including Captain Ronan Watters, Mark Fogarty and Mick O’Gara. Also there were Sean Cronin, Jamie Cornett and Conor Dean, Senior Coaches and Paudge McGill, Paul Pender and Paul Conlon, Senior Management. Frank Kennedy was there, as were several players’ parents. The Rugby Council was well represented by DoR, Alan Shirley, Eoin Quinn and Kevin Conboy. Of course our dedicated President Gareth Roche and Hon Secretary, Aoife O’Donnell were there.
It has to be said that many of the St Marys side had not played regularly together, but every one of them fought to the end and gave of their all. At full back John Brennan was impressive and dealt with every situation con brio. He is a good footballer and had a fine game. In fact the entire backline showed real potential. Barnhall had a feisty pack as expected, but the Marys’ eight, matched them in all respects, with Ian Wickham consistently effective in the line out and all round. It was good to see iconic Podge Dundon, back from injury, while Marys unfortunately, lost committed Gavin Potts, to injury early in the game.
Barnhall settled first and Marys had to defend hard, but the visitors grew into the game and with the more experienced players, like Captain, Ian Wickham, Sean Heeran and halves, Adam McEvoy and Aaron O’Neill controlling things they were putting pressure on the Barnhall defence. The home side opened the score with a penalty, but on 25 minutes, backrower, Joe Nolan who had an outstanding game, made a penetrating run down through midfield and passed on to fine young centre Eoin Carey and he fairly whizzed down the right touchline and when tracked near the line, passed to his excellent partner, Senan Phelan, who scored in the corner. Aaron O’Neill made a terrific conversion from the touchline, it was 3-7. Barnhall hit back with a good try on 34 minutes (8-7). Then on 40 minutes, Marys put a penalty into touch on the 5 metres and a strong maul led to hooker Leandre Sellier touching down to make the score 8-12 at half time.
Second half was ten minutes old when a good backline move gave left winger, Ross Moore the ball 20 metres out, he ripped past his marker and fairly zoomed in for a try in the corner, 8-17. Two minutes later Barnhall scored a try, 13-17 and on 68 minutes they scored converted try to make it 20-17. Aaron kicked a good penalty and so it was even, and very tight. Now, 72 minutes gone and 20-20. St Marys put on strong pressure and coming near the end, and after good work by flanker, Eoin Power et al, won a scrum in the Barnhall 22, in front of the posts, a drop goal would do; so would a strong move off the scrum. As they engaged the whistle blew, it was judged that we had engaged early, so a free kick to the home side. Barnhall worked their way down into the Marys’ half and on 35 metres out they won a scrum. A steady scrum, they broke blind down the left touchline and beating the cover scored, 25-20.
Congratulations to Barnhall, winners in the tightest of matches. The Marys lads however, can be proud. Also big thanks and appreciation must go to Sean Healy, Coach, and Darren Walker Manager, for all their hard work all season, in an area which requires constant attention and work due to the nature of the team.
It is hoped that next season the J1s will be in a position to get back up to Metro League 1, as our history shows that when we have a strong and successful J1 squad our club thrives and our senior team is successful.
15 J Brennan, 14 L Bryan, 13 E Carey, 12 S Phelan, 11 R Moore, 10 A O’Neill, 9 A McEvoy, 8 S Heeran, 7 E Power, 6 B Hamilton, 5 G Potts, 4 I Wickham (C), 3 J N Reidy-Walsh, 2 L Sellier, 1 P Dundon. J Nolan, A Sloan, A Walsh, L Moore.