Naas RFC

Founded 1922

Co. Kildare

Match Report from Naas V St. Marys - AIL Sat 4th Nov 2023

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Match Report Mark Herbert Photos: Michael Linehan

Naas 14 – St. Mary’s College 25

After a break of two weeks, the 2023/2024 Energia All-Ireland League Division 1B resumed last Saturday afternoon with Naas entertaining St. Mary’s College. After defeats in their last two games to Queens University and Old Wesley, Naas were keen to regain the winning thread, and although they failed to achieve this, their second-half performance certainly gave cause for optimism going forward.

Despite all the recent rain, the pitch at Forenaughts looked magnificent for this encounter, and there was a decent crowd present to watch the proceedings. There was a lot of aimless kicking by both sides in the early exchanges as they bid to gain dominance, and it took six minutes before the first scoring opportunity. This fell to Conor Dean of St. Mary’s, who attempted a drop-goal from 35 yards out, but his effort drifted harmlessly wide to the right of the posts.

But the visitors did strike first after 17 minutes. Naas were penalised for holding on in a ruck and Mick O’Gara made no mistake with the resulting penalty. St. Mary’s were on top at this stage and came close to extending their lead within another 90 seconds, when a chip through by Conor Dean almost resulted in a try for Mark Fogarty, with the Naas defence doing well to narrowly deprive him in the race for the touchdown.

O’Gara missed with a penalty attempt after 23 minutes, but the visitors did deservedly extend their lead after 26 minutes. After Naas were penalised for a high tackle, the visitors turned down a shot at goal, went for touch and set up a driving maul which the home side collapsed. Mary’s took a quick tap penalty after this offence, and after their initial attack was held up just short of the line, Mick McCormack picked from the base of the ruck and dived over. Although the conversation was missed by O’Gara, the visitors were now 8-0 in front.

Naas launched their first meaningful attack of the half after 32 minutes. Powerful runs by Charlie Sheridan and Bryan Croke put the Mary’s defence on the back front, leading to the concession of a penalty for diving over the top. This was dispatched to touch and after James O’Loughlin won the line-out the ball was moved into midfield, but referee Andrew Fogarty deemed there had been crossing and awarded the visitors a penalty, which enabled them to clear their lines.

Things were to get worse for Naas just before the interval. Firstly, Conor McVeigh received a yellow card for playing the ball in an offside position, and then from the resulting penalty which Mary’s kicked to touch, they set up a driving maul which Naas were powerless to stop, and led to James Harding crashing over for a try. Although the conversion was again missed by O’Gara, Mary’s led by 13 points to nil, which proved to be the interval score. However, Naas did have an opportunity to reduce this lead when in first-half stoppage time, a high tackle by the St Mary’s College prop Mick McCormack – for which he received a yellow card – gave Peter Osborne a shot at goal, but his effort was just wide.

Six minutes into the second-half and referee Andrew Fogarty reached into his pocket to brandish a third yellow card of the afternoon. This time Charlie Sheridan was the recipient for a high tackle and Mary’s ruthlessly punished the offence. They again went to touch and set up a driving maul, and when this was stopped close to the line, Ben Taylor broke away to score. Mick O’Gara did convert this time and the lead was out to 20 points.

Naas had a left off after 58 minutes when Dan Sancery coughed up the ball with the try-line at his mercy, but to their credit the home side really got stuck into the visitors for the remainder of the game, dominating possession and territory. They were rewarded for their improved play on 72 minutes. With Mary’s down to 14 men after Ben Taylor had received a yellow card, they attacked the space created, and found Donal Conroy out wide right. The Naas winger finished in style to score his fourth try in the last three games. Sam Cahill converted from right out on the sideline to reduce the margin to 20-7.

There was still time for another two tries in the game. Firstly, Ethan Baxter scored a fourth Mary’s try on 79 minutes (not converted) to give them a try scoring bonus point, before Jack Sheridan scored a try which was the pick of the day’s scores, after fine play by the Naas backs. Bryan Croke tapped over the conversion to leave the final score 25-14 in favour of St. Mary’s.

No doubt the visitors were deserving winners on this occasion, but there were plenty of positives for Naas in their second-half display, which hopefully will lead to them getting back to winning ways next time out. That game is a home fixture against Garryowen, next Saturday afternoon, November 11th. Kick-off is at 2.30pm and as always all support will be greatly appreciated.

Naas: Peter Osborne, Donal Conroy, Charlie Sheridan, Gary Kavanagh, Sam Cahill, Bryan Croke (capt), Tadhg Brophy, Conor Doyle, Aidan O’Kane, Adam Coyle, Conor McVerry, James O’Loughlin, Paul Monahan, Francisco Bartorelli Lagomar, Evan Coyle. Replacements: Neil O’Hanlon, Peter King, Muiris Cleary, Eoin Walshe, Jack Sheridan, Derry Lenehan.

St. Mary’s College: Steve Kilgallen, Leandro Ramirez, Mark Fogarty, Mick O’Gara, Dan Sancery, Conor Dean, Adam McEvoy, Thomas O’Reilly, Jamie Harding, Mick McCormack, Daniel Leane, Liam Corcoran, Ben Taylor, Ethan Baxter, Ronan Watters (capt). Replacements: James Nelson Murray, Jack Reidy Walsh, Leory Jack, Ian Wickham, Myles Carey, Conor Hayes, Richie Fahy, Joe Nolan.

Referee: Andrew Fogarty.

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