And true to the great cycles of sport Clontarf finally managed to get one over on Mary’s having lost the last five AIL games to our friends from the West of Dublin. Mary’s are going through a transition period and are shorn of a few characters due to injury and retirement. It didn’t help their cause that two of their key players, out half Cathal Marsh and their captain Darragh Fanning, were also absent on Leinster duty. So, there was a little bit of a sticking plaster look to parts of their line up. Clontarf too were short a few selection options but are settling as a squad. With home advantage and the usual well watered support ‘Tarf were in a better position to overcome any shortages .
The first half was played at a frantic pace with both sides struggling to control the slippy ball and the equally slippery refereeing interpretations. Half time saw the sides equal 6 to 6 after 4 penalties.
The second half came to life when Mick McGrath was fired into the Mary’s secondary defense only to be hauled down by a superb tackle with the line in sight. The Clontarf pack then took over and multiple phases of driving finally saw hooker Brian Byrne grind over beside the posts. The photo is on INPHO and is well worth hanging on the toilet wall in the Byrne house!
Unfortunately Clontarf then got wobbly with the restart and lost possession as they were moving upfield. In true St. Mary’s style the visitors made hay on the turnover and Steve Toal Lennon scored a try right out of the Barry John scrapbook to keep the game alive at 16 – 13 and the crowd quiet.
What followed was a classic home score. Off a creaky scrum on the right No 8 Tony Ryan took the ball blind with the pace of a scalded cat, popped to scrum half Sam Cronin and crucially stayed with him thereby creating enough confusion in the defense for the ‘Tarf 9 to give the inside dummy and the outside flip to Mick McGrath to make the corner.
That made the score 21 – 13 and ‘Tarf managed to hold on through some scary moments around the fringe. The game ended with a breakout into the Mary’s 22, an infringement at a maul, some handbags, finger pointing, general griping, heavy petting, two yellow cards, and a penalty to the home side which David Joyce converted for 24 – 13.