Skerries is a small village - surrounded by a large number of houses. The people used to be primarily farmers and fishermen - some still are - but many more commute as part of their working week. Skerries have played rugby at Holmpatrick officially since 1926. My uncle Joe was also born that year - recently he told me he remembers the first match - and who am I not to believe him! He has a great recall of the early days and we are very lucky and grateful to have his memories available to us.Skerries is off the beaten track. We used to say ‘you have to want to go to Skerries’ - it isn’t on the road to anywhere - just to itself!!This semi remoteness is usually worth about 7 points to Skerries as ‘posh’ Dublin teams struggle to find Skerries and then - once there - take another 15 minutes to find the ground! UCD J2s took no chances as they assembled at 1100 hours at Belfield- to head to North County Dublin in convoy. They reassembled at Skerries Harbour to take on fuel - while gazing on The Mountains of Mourne. Captain Johnno & Managers Mc Donough & Jones (now in his 22nd year of Managing UCD team) gave their final thoughts - the team switched on - this Skerries team are a serious outfit - the J2s would need all their focus & all their tricks to be in with a chance coming down the stretch. Let’s just hope it doesn’t rain! And no wind!!
When Webb Ellis ‘created’ rugby back in the day - had he stipulated that a game would be only 40 minutes - well then the UCD J2s would have seen some reward for their efforts yesterday. While both teams went hard at it - with good play from both sides - Skerries were more street wise. UCD shaved it in possession and time spent on the opposition half – they had two penalty attempts at goal from Brendan McDonnell – with the second one only missing by inches. By contrast with less possession Skerries profited from quick thinking by their No.9 ( - who tapped a quick penalty and dived over the line – half time 5-0 to the Skerries Goats.
It rained – the pitch was heavy – Skerries brought a seriously aggressive rush defence – the UCD J2s found themselves with no time on the ball – the heavy pitch made their natural running game almost impossible - eventually Skerries began to wear UCD down – well you will have to visit SRFC website to get the full details (if you really want them) – the final score did not reflect the effort and spirit that the J2s showed right to the end. There is much learning in this for us ( See final thoughts). Skerries fully deserved their victory and have improved much since we last met in early November – they are rightfully sitting on top of the League while we now are in a dog fight for 2nd place.
Remembering at all times to accentuate the positive:-
- The soup and sambos in Joe Mays (by the harbour in Skerries were lovely (thank you Bobby)
- The mini-tour of Skerries in the (temporary) sunshine with views of The Mountains of Mourne set the tone for the pre-match build up
- The Skerries folks were most hospitable and treated us well
- The Skerries Physio (Emma Quirke) kindly attended to our walking wounded – Cossie (Elbow). Johnno (bump on head), Sam (ribs), Rob (hammer), Richie (confused!!)
- Later in the season – we hope to meet again in the League final – the track will be drier – the weather should be more clement – we know our challenges and have time to work with the coaches to come up with a plan – the season has just got very interesting.
Honourable mentions: The whole team for their spirit and resilience; our laundrette (the gear walked off the pitch on it’s own); Jonesy (for being our only supporter) and Bobby (for stepping in as Coach at the last minute)
Man of the match: Conor Scully
Squad: Jerry Nolan, Kevin White, John O'Donnell, Sam Doggett, Conor Scully, Richie Akpan, Matt Edwards, Dave O'Brien, Shane Costigan, Tim Stafford, James Shanahan, Brionn Coffey, Tim Wu Murphy, Brendan McDonnell, Rob Shanahan, Eric Giannitrapani, Adrien Toulemonde, Kev Lynch, James Bredin, Cian Harrington.