So…what do we do now? I guess there is the new season of House of Cards and Game of Thrones and then, this summer, the Euros… but how exclusive is a tournament that allows in Iceland and Albania, never mind our gang of Championship stalwarts? No, bound to be disappointing… but I really feel bad for the future wives, kids and colleagues of the boys themselves, when it comes to trying to impress them in future years: ‘Nice tackle kid, but have you ever been Pogatchnicked?’ ‘Yes, I appreciate the promotion it but it is not quite as thrilling as watching McKay or Connor burning down the touchline.’ ‘I love the blonde look, honey… it reminds me of my old team-mates Ross and Cameron- did I ever tell you how we… ?’ You get the picture: How are the young champions on Gav’s SCT ever going to top this, the most magical season of any team in the storied sports history of St. Conleth’s?
The match itself was pure smashmouth rugby: more ‘grunt’ than ‘grace’ but the best teams know how to win in different ways on different days. The McMullen Cup was won with stylish runs, breathtaking passes and memorable tries. This Vinnie Murray Plate was more like a tank battle than a cavalry charge, and the echoes of the ferocious hits laid and absorbed by our boys are still echoing down the swish backstreets and alleyways of Donnybrook. Full credit to Templeogue for coming with a game-plan and the willingness to play: after ‘old reliable’ Ben Doggett set them back with a couple of perfectly struck penalties, the boys from Dublin 6 dug in and proceeded to apply pressure for most of the next hour or so. Perhaps their skill set was not quite as finely honed as ours, but no-one could doubt the power and heart of Templeogue. They also had speed and size, and in one particular scary fullback package, both. There was one especially scary moment when said mountain-sized fullback ran like a uruk-hai for the try-line, building up momentum and with apparently no-one to stand in his way. Suddenly, there was a bolt of black-and-green and the subsequent collision sent the berserker beast backwards and shook the stadium… When we regained our senses we saw Conleth’s regrouping and Templeogue in retreat: Colin Duffy had delivered the hit of the season and no photograph or video will ever capture the seismic magnitude of that smash.
Our boys still had to hang in there and there were many heroes on the day: Kevin Dolan’s red cap was seen up and down the middle of the pitch, as he calmly and clinically dismantling their rucks and mauls and setting up our attacks with his customary expertise; Cameron Ross-O’Reilly gave Pogie competition in the ‘ubiquity’ contest: both delivering hits wherever and whenever they were needed; Simon Ghose calmly catching many a high ball and turning things back the other way; David McKeown buzzing round the scrums and making the important first pass; Sean Frison-Roche applying a bit of French flair; Robert Cripwell, Paddy Cahill and Mati Remi doing the hard work up front; and perhaps most tellingly of the team-spirit which Gav has engendered in these boys: The proud participation towards the end of players who may not have received much game-time this season but always were at the heart of the team: Sam O’Dea, Philip Carroll, Elliott Browne and Daniel Kenny. Well done to Gav and all the boys!