Smyth lifted by Mary's true grit
St Mary's 15 Dolphin 7
AIL Divison 1A
ST MARY'S COLLEGE gave their league ambitions a huge boost with a hard-earned success over Dolphin at Templeville Road on Saturday.
Both teams were badly in need of a victory after losing two and winning just one of their opening three games.
In the end, it was some resilient defensive work by St Mary's in the final quarter that proved the difference.
The winners led 15-0 after playing with the wind in the first half and coach Peter Smyth must have been worried when Dolphin reduced the deficit to 15-7 with a penalty try 16 minutes into the second period.
To complicate matters, St Mary's had scrum-half Matthew D'Arcy sin-binned for obstructing Dolphin wing Cian Bohane as he attempted to ground the ball. So, when out-half Barry Keeshan added the conversion, Dolphin were primed to go on and win.
But a combination of some excellent defending and Dolphin's inability to make better use of their chances, saw St Mary's hold out. And the fact that the game contained plenty of mistakes didn't worry Smyth.
He said: "It was difficult out there as our ground is very open to the wind. Today was really about winning after a couple of defeats. The fact that we went down to 14 men following the sin-binning probably galvanised us. We produced a great rearguard action from then on."
The match, in fact, contained two penalty tries, the first of which was awarded to St Mary's towards the end of the first half. The home side had started brightly with a well- taken try by right-wing Ronan Doherty after good work by Philip Brophy and Mark Sexton.
Gavin Dunne added the conversion and also kicked a penalty. But the fact that they wasted three other try-scoring opportunities meant that St Mary's were only 8-0 ahead approaching half-time.
It was then that referee David Wilkinson awarded the penalty try after Dolphin infringed at the scrum for a third time close to their own line. Furthermore, prop Christy Condon was shown a yellow card.
With Dunne nailing the simple conversion, St Mary's had a reasonable total to defend in the second half. They did so successfully until Bohane availed of a loose pass in midfield to kick ahead and set up Dolphin's penalty try.
Trailing by just eight points with plenty of time left, Dolphin must have thought they were in with a great chance. But they failed to make use of their possession as St Mary's hung on.
It was desperately frustrating for coach Steve Forde, as the same thing happened Dolphin in their last league game against Cork Constitution.
"We deserved more," argued Forde. "We created opportunities, but only took one. We just have to be more clinical."
St Mary's -- G Dunne; R Doherty, M Sexton, S Grissing, C Hogan; P Brophy, M D'Arcy (C Lilly 57); C McMahon, D Kilbride, R Sweeney (R Brosnan 77), G Logan, D Hall (G Auston 68), C Ruddock, D Keller, H Hogan (Capt).
Dolphin -- N Walley; C Bohane, E Moloney, W Devane (E Mills 46), H Fleming; B Keeshan (Capt, C Bannon 79), E O'Shaughnessy; G Duffy, A O'Driscoll (J Leahy 38), C Condon, C Rowe, D O'Mahony, R O'Herlihy, J Quill, R Allen.
Ref -- D Wilkinson.