17th August 2021
Almost exactly a year to the day when our lads had their last match vs Terenure College RFC in Lakelands, we finally togged out in the Blue and White to play a friendly in Templeville Road. What a feeling. Emotions were high and nerves even higher. There was a great sense of “at last” as the two teams warmed up – Covid has taken its toll on all of society and amateur sport was not spared; so to have live rugby being played in Templeville Road again is fantastic for players and fans alike. The atmosphere just before kick-off was immense.
Despite Covid-regulations limiting a number of regular match-day norms, the on-pitch rules have been largely unaffected. At 7.50pm the lads put on the jerseys for the first time in just under 365 days - thankfully they still fit. Guided on the day by Coach Lenzo who has transitioned to full time coach after hanging up his boots, and managers Harry Ebbs and Aaron Hudson, the lads were in good(ish) hands. Coaches Lyonsy and GMac had more pressing issues to work on like getting a tan and enjoying some beers by the pool so they sadly didn’t get to see our lads play on the nighy. The good news was that former Mary’s star Brewer was on hand to record our match so our coaches in absentia could watch the game poolside. As we were on the back pitches Brewer couldn’t get a great angle, so after consulting with Groundsman Pokey, Aaron drove his unnecessarily large jeep on the pitch and Brewer had a great elevated view for the match.
The game kicked off at 8pm sharp and right away big hits came in from both sides. Crunching tackles, some great passing and some brilliant break away runs were made by backs and forwards alike. Al McPhillips who has turned back the clock made a couple of great breaks, as did Donners, both proving age is just a number. Jack Flanagan spent the game trying to break ankles with his sidesteps and our forwards ran at the gain-line like bulls at a red flag. Led by Captain Fionan Magee, Mary’s were vocal and physical, and neither team could break the deadlock until the 20th minute. Railway snuck in for a try just as the ref blew up for the first third of the game. 0-7. The 2nd third kicked off, and after an impassioned chat between Lenzo and the team, we came out swinging, winning a number of penalties from the scrums and with our lineouts performing well it seemed a try was inevitable. With 34 minutes gone on the clock, old-man Donners bullied his way over the try line as he loves to do so often, and El General James Bourke added the 2 points. 7-7 with the final third left to play.
With 20 minutes remaining, it was all to play for - nothing separated the teams. With rolling subs came fresh feet and the game stayed lively throughout. On the 53rd minutes, the always-entertaining Podge Dundon bashed through the Railway defence and went over. The conversion attempt gliding just passed the posts. 12-7 to Mary’s. With 2 minutes to go it seemed we had done enough, however, an awry bounce of the ball found our lads flat-footed and Railway seized the opportunity to go under the posts for a well-scored try. 12-14. All seemed lost. However, we hadn’t given up. Right from the restart, our lads were in attack mode. The ball found its way to Rob Trew (who recently became a father for the first time - congratulations from all at St. Mary's College RFC) and Rob, summoning up superhuman strength despite minimal sleep the last 10 days, bulldozed his way over the try line with the clock now firmly in the red. As out-half Bourkey had made the conscious decision to be sin-binned, the kicking tee was handed to the quiet and unassuming Cal Gray. After an Owen Farrell-esque run-up, Cal slotted the ball right between the posts. Due to Cal’s discreet nature, we certainly won’t be hearing any more about this.
The match ended 19-14 to the good guys – a great start to this year’s rugby campaign. Despite being a friendly, both sides gave it their all and left it all on the pitch. Railway played some great rugby and were great guests in Templeville Road and we wish them all the best in their cup and league campaigns. With only a few weeks now until our cup starts, and with a win under our belts, the J2s are dying to get going – we face Seapoint in the cup on September 4th and we hope to see you there cheering our lads on!