A Game of Three Halves
By John O Donnell
Cameo appearance by David O'Dowd snatches a draw in closing minutes.
Seapoint took on St Mary's in an important home League match on Sunday 11th February. Seapoint have been unbeaten in all league matches so far this season except for Balbriggan. This contest could ultimately decide who finished second in the League. Seapoint however had a number of players unavailable for selection for various reasons. Whilst they had beaten St Mary's away earlier in this league campaign, it had been a closely fought contest and Seapoint expected a stern test from the team from Tempelville Road.
Seapoint won the toss and elected to play into a strong wind in the first half. St Mary's got possession early on and exerted a lot of pressure for the first ten minutes. Seapoint defended resolutely and refused to concede a score. Playing into a strong wind meant kicking was not an option and retaining possession was critical. Sam Turner made some incisive pressure relieving breaks from the base of the scrum and this allowed some valuable relief from the pressure on defence. Whilst St Marys made some strong carries from the forwards, they never really looked like threatening the Seapoint line. Finally, shortly before half time, Seapoint managed to gain a foothold in the St Marys 22. After playing some of the finest rugby they have played all season, Oscar Lawlor delivered a Sexton-esque flat pass to put Peter Duffy over for the first score of the game. John Ascough was incredibly unlucky not to convert a very difficult kick into the strong wind. Seapoint continued to defend and reached half time without conceding a score.
Seapoint supporters expected an easy victory with a strong wind in their backs for the second half. However the St Mary's forwards had other ideas and proceeded to give Seapoint a lesson in ball retention and direct running. Seapoint forwards allowed St Mary's to run at them and after punching several holes in the Seapoint cover, St Mary's eventually went over for two tries in rapid succession, one of which they converted. So 15 minutes into the second half Seapoint found themselves trailing by 12 points to 5 and did not looked remotely like scoring. In fact they seemed incapable of gaining possession. To further deflate confidence, scrum half Cameron Ramsay was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on. This however proved to be the galvanising kick in the rear the home side needed. Finally putting some good kick chases together and finding a foot hold in the opposition 22, Seapoint started to apply some pressure of their own.
Enter the third 'half', the regular first choice outhalf David O'Dowd came on for the closing minutes, he split the defence on his first carry with blistering speed and touched down under the posts. John Ascough added the points with a relatively easy but high pressure kick. Despite further pressure from Seapoint for the remainder of the game, the referee blew up shortly afterwards and the game finished in a draw.
Good solid performances (mainly int he first half|) from Turner and Liam Hurley. Alan Casey played all 60 minutes in the second row which was hugely important. Cillian O'Donnell had a hugely influential game during the first half,tackling hard, making some charging runs and taking a restart cleanly. Sean Downing put in a full 60 minute shift as always. Kacper and John Ascough were involved in everything good we did. Leo Bourke made a welcome return to Seapoint colours. Oscar Lawlor had a solid game at 10, and created the first try with a beautifully weighted inch perfect flat pass. Thomas O'Shea, Ben Marnell, Peter Duffy, Ross Gallagher, Paul Jones, and Sam Hamilton all played well. Man of the match however went to Cameron Ramsay who despite getting 'binned' showed great character, heart and fight all day and never stopped attacking and defending.
I would like to apologise to Luke Kroon who didn't get a run today, not by design but purely because I forgot in the pressure of the second half to make the substitution. When playing league matches we have a philosophy that everyone gets a game. We will make it up to you Luke.