Hogan breathes sigh of relief after battling success
NEW coach Hugh Hogan was expecting a tough opening to St Mary's defence of the Division 1A title at Templeville Road, and he wasn't disappointed.
UL Bohemian, promoted from Division 1B, were in with a chance in this game right until the final whistle. It was a display that suggests they are quite capable of holding their own in the top flight.
"We knew that this would be a very tough match," said Hogan. "UL Bohs play a good brand of rugby and we found them hard to break down. We're just delighted to have won."
St Mary's led for most of the encounter. They were 10-3 in front at half-time by virtue of a try from substitute Marcus O'Driscoll, converted by Ray Crotty. Wing Crotty also added a penalty. UL Bohs responded with a penalty from Ireland U-20 out-half JJ Hanrahan.
The same player then kicked from inside his own half to reduce the deficit to 10-6. Although a try from No 8 Kevin Croke, converted by Crotty, pushed St Mary's 17-6 clear, UL Bohs weren't out of it.
With St Mary's flanker Kevin Sheahan in the sin-bin, the Limerick outfit snatched a try through scrum-half Rory White. Hanrahan's conversion cut the deficit to 17-13 with 14 minutes left. Hanrahan had a chance to reduce St Mary's advantage to a point in the 71st minute but pulled his penalty attempt wide.
UL Bohs' backs coach Barry Murphy, the former Munster and Ireland centre, was "very disappointed" that his side didn't pull off a shock victory.
"We played well enough to win," he said. "But to come away with a losing bonus point from such a tough venue is no mean achievement."
UL Bohs take on Cork Constitution at home next weekend, while St Mary's face a crunch match away to a Young Munster side that trounced Shannon 36-3 in their opening encounter on Friday night.
St Mary's College -- C Hogan; R Crotty, S Grissing, P Brophy, D Hudson; A Burke, M D'Arcy (Capt); J McGrath, K Haupt, Robert Sweeney, C Ruddock, G Logan, K Sheahan, G Austin, K Croke. Reps used: M O'Driscoll, C McMahon, C Lilly, P Starett.
UL Bohemian -- B Martin; M McPhail, M Lawlor, N Kenneally, D Moroney; JJ Hanrahan, D Farrell; T Doyle, S Henry, A Simpson, E Kelly (Capt), D Foley, E Rossiter, I Condell, S Rennison. Reps used: G Walsh, R White, B Walsh.
Ref -- D Wilkinson.