J2 MATCH REPORT 35-15 V LANSDOWNE
During last weekend word filtered through in UCD and Lansdowne rugby circles that the great Peter Sutherland had died. The UCD RFC President - Terry Buckley - paid a fitting tribute in the UCD Rugby Newsletter. we heard about Peter’s great achievements as an international & world player on the highest political and business stages. We also heard about his love for rugby - initially in Gonzaga, then UCD, then Lansdowne.
It was just a coincidence that the next evening the UCD J2s were to play Lansdowne. Both teams paid their own quiet but poignant tribute with a brief silence observed prior to kick off. What followed was a tribute in its own way - a hard fought, keenly contested battle - with some excellent rugby on display from both sides - but played in a fair and competitive spirit - values that Peter espoused all his life. We may not see his like again - At Dheis De a Anan.
Farmers in Connemara let their sheep roam freely - but they know that from time to time you need to count your sheep and ensure they are in the general vacinity. Similarly - after the Christmas break - UCD Junior Rugby Managers & Coaches hold their breaths as they await the return of their flock. Captain (Johnno) hails from The Kingdom - he understands this full well - as a result he left nothing to chance and used every trick in the book to ensure the J2 / J4 flock knew that the festive roaming period was at an end. The 3 Wise Men have come and gone - the season was about to recommence and their is serious work to be done.
A fine clear night ensued- no rain, a slight wind - perfect conditions for the type of rugby the J2s aspire to. A sizable crowd turned up (in Junior Rugby that means more than 20 people!) - bolstered by a good & vociferous Lansdowne contingent. There are many connections between the 2 clubs and many on both sides are well known to each other.
The contest swung many times as each team look to assert their preferred style of play to good effect - UCD were structured in the pack and crisp & paceyvin the backs - Lansdowne less structured but very strong upfront and very strong in the tackle. UCD struck early with a fine 15 man move finished off by the solo scoring machine that is Brendan McDonnell. Lansdowne fought back - by half time we had a tied game (15-15) as McDonnell hit a penalty and converted a Rob Shanahan try. The crowd were enjoying it and were fully engaged with the Ref’s interpretations of certain laws! (our Ref was French (Nicholas) who will return to France after one more match - unusually he asked if we could video some clips of the game so that he could show his family on his return - thanks Paddy Barrett for delivering and keeping the Ref onside!!).
The winning of the game was settled in a 6 minute periid just as the 2nd half was warming up. To be fair to Lansdowne they threw the kitchen sink at it - wave after wave of bulky forwards pounded at the UCD 5 metre line - to a man the UCD team - backs & forwards - stood up and defended their line like their lives depended on it. Such was the ferocity that at one stage even the Ref got cleaned out if and required a moment to recover ( Paddy - we hope you got that one on video - if only to help Id the assailant!). Eventually UCD cleared their lines - the siege was lifted and one sensed the Lansdowne spirit - if not broken - was severely dented.
What followed were 3 more tries - the scoring machines McDonnell and Coffey.
Tired bodies retired to The Clubhouse afterwards for one quiet drink. Captain Johnno reflected on a good conclusion to what can be strictly week in the J2 season. There is work ahead - but their is time to do it - and on this showing there is plenty of intent & spirit. Next up is the long trip to Wesso in Donnybrook- sure we might see you there....
Man of the Match- Brendan McDonnell
Honourable mentions - Conor Scully, Johnny Hill
Team - Jerry Nolan, Peter Barrett, John O'Donnell (Capt), Sam Doggett, Conor Scully, Matt Edwards, Richie Akpan, David O'Brien, Shane Costigan, Tim Stafford, James Shanahan, Brionn Coffey, Tim Wu Murphy, Brendan McDonnell, Kevin White, Kevin Wynne, Jeremiah Nolan, Johnny Hill, James Bredin,