Match Report v St. Marys
Toug day at the office.
Our Firsts took to the road and headed to Templeville Road in Dublin to take on fourth in the table St. Marys. Autumn caught us all off guard and threw us out a warm day with favourable conditions for a match. Shannon took to the pitch with a changed up team from previous matches, welcoming back John Shine, Brian Downey and Conor Glynn. Shane Monahan also started his first match with Shannon and we welcomed back Stephen Fitzgerald from Munster.
Shannon started strong and in the first few minutes were looking dynamic in attack. Our backs were taking on the ball and playing strong fast rugby. We weren’t as confident in the scrum as last week and were unlucky to give St. Marys a penalty when it collapsed twice. This was reciprocated 3 minutes later when St. Marys were also penalised at scrum time giving Shannon the chance to get back up the pitch with a kick to touch. Shannon were strong in the lineouts but were penalised for truck and trailer in the maul as St. Marys never engaged and we didn’t react in time.
After a solid Shannon tackle forced the St. Marys knock on, Tadhg Bennet launched a winding cross field kick and Stephen Fitzgerald was unlucky not to go over. St. Marys feeling the pressure put the ball into touch, gifting Shannon a line-out on their 5 meter line. The resulting lineout yielded a strong maul and after driving it on, it was John Shine who touched down for the first points of the game. This was converted by Shane Airey. The score was 7-0 after 10 minutes
This seemed to awaken something in St. Marys and the tone of their game changed. Less than five minutes later, St. Marys exposed a missed tackle and it was their lock Stephen Bradshaw, cousin of Frank that went over the line for a try that was converted, levelling the scores. Discipline dropped for Shannon and 4 minutes later we were penalised for hands on the ground. St. Marys saw the opportunity, took a quick one and sent their winger over the line for their second try which was also converted. St. Marys retrieved the kick off and were strong in attack, threatening the Shannon line. The referee deemed the resulting defence illegal and Shannon had a player sent to the bin. St. Marys were distributing great ball out to the backs and it wasn’t long before they added another try to their tally – this was also converted leaving the score 28-7 after 20 minutes.
Shannon kept up pressure at the line-outs and were rewarded with stealing a few from St. Marys. Ronan McKenna made a great break through their defence and was unfortunate to be tackled into touch. Another penalty for hands in the ruck and the resulting kick meant that St. Marys were back on our 5 meter line with a lineout. Again the referee wasn’t happy with how Shannon were defending and yellow carded another Shannon player. St. Marys pack were feeling confident, and again used their lineout and maul to their advantage and slowly crept towards the Shannon line. They were patient and were rewarded with a penalty try after 33 minutes which was also converted leaving the score 28-7. As we crept closer to half-time Shannon were unfortunate to knock on the ball and St. Marys were strong in the resulting scrum. St. Marys backs and forwards linked up well and in a good display of team work went over for their final try of the half which was converted. The half-time score read 35-7.
Early in the second half it was St. Marys turn to have a player sent to the bin. While he was off Shannon started to gain momentum in attack and there were displays of solid rugby. St. Marys pack kept on the pressure however, and Shannon were penalised in the scrum. St. Marys opted to kick this and were successful leaving the score 38-7. Shannon answered this and to credit the team what followed was a solid half of rugby. They linked up as a team and there were some good breaks from Jamie O’Halloran and Stephen Fitzgerald who were unlucky to not get more from them. Frustration boiled over at times and there were handling errors that St. Marys capitalised on. As a whole it was a very different performance from that of the first half and credit to the team they kept this up until the final whistle. St. Marys were just more clinical in their decisions and were lucky to touch down a final time at the 36 minute mark, from a well placed penalty kick to touch and a successful lineout. In the last minute of the match Richard Mullane crossed over for a long awaited Shannon try which was not converted. This left the final score 45-12.
While it is not the result we would have anticipated, credit has to go to St. Marys, they have built a fortress in Templeville Road and it is not an easy place to go and come out with a win. Shannon came out a different team in the second half and showed real determination. They never gave up and pushed hard until the last minute of the match. If you can make it out to the match in Coonagh at all this weekend, please do. It is important to show the team that the club is behind them, there is great talent on this team and it will shine sooner rather than later.