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St Gerald's U-16 Connacht League Champions 2013



img_4029-700On a very calm and still day it was St Gerald’s who kicked off this final playing up the pitch. First into action was The Bish with a run down the middle of the field, the forwards took it on before Jack Heavey made a crunching tackle on their second row who spilled the ball forward giving Gerald’s a scrum. The two Gerald’s props put pressure on the Bish front row who stood up in the scrum giving the Castlebar men a penalty. Captain Jack Heavey signalled to the posts and we all waited nervously for his first penalty kick from 45m out. He struck the ball well, on target, it just fell short.

From the kick out the Galway men launched an attack, their open side made a good run some 20m up the field only to be brought down by Sean Tonra on the 10m line; Gerald’s hit the following ruck with aggression but went off their feet. The outside half kicked for territory and put a lovely kick into the corner 7m out from the Gerald’s line. At the line out the ball went to front, Jack Heavey managed to disrupt the throw getting fingertips to ball which bounced lose at the back of the lineout, their big second row came through the line to gather the loose ball and crashed over in the corner, the try went unconverted.


Back came Gerald’s with some pick up and go’s; Sean Tonra and Ultan McDyer prominent in the forays into the Gerald’s half; as always; the back row of King; Heavey and Baba were quicker to the breakdown winning ball on the ground on the majority of occasions; Gerald’s recycled the ball to Ryan Padden; who; sent it to Barry Walsh; off he went running down narrow side; he drew two defenders and sent a lovely timed pass to Mark Benson; running up the left hand touchline like a steam train; the centre was tackled and the Bish, under pressure, failed to release the tackler giving Gerald’s a well-earned penalty on the 22m. The captain made a call and a pre-set penalty move followed. Sean Tonra took the ball off Barry walsh a pace and smashed through the defensive line to give a brilliant offload to fellow prop McDyer who crashed over in style, just to the right of the posts. The captain secured the extra 2 points and Gerald’s took the lead (7-5).


From the restart Gerald’s started to grind down the big Galway forwards with some clever pod work. The work rate of the pack for the next 10 minutes was exemplary; they dragged them one way and then the next. Making good yards up the pitch the Gerald’s open side, Thierry Baba, spotted a gap in the St Joseph’s defence and took an inside ball off Padden to make a line break; his shear pace left the full back standing as he went under the posts. The captain secured the extra two and Gerald’s now led 14-5.


Back came The Bish with an inspired rally driving towards the Gerald’s try line some 20 metres out; firstly the No8; then the prop; to the hooker; to the second row but excellent defence by Gerald’s stemmed the flow; eventually The Bish were penalised for killing the ball on the ground. A fast tap penalty by Barry Walsh who went down the narrow side; he linked up with Balaski who went on a screaming run up the middle of the pitch making 45m; on to captain Jack Heavey who injected further pace into the attack with only the full back to beat, a well-timed side step saw him go over for the try. He slotted the conversion attempt wide, but Gerald’s were now well in control as the ref blew for half time.


Half time: St Gerald’s 19 St Joseph’s 5


img_4012-700Straight from the kick off Gerald’s were put under pressure with an attack down the left hand touch line only good work by Cathal Brohan with a cover tackle on their left wing stopped them scoring. At the line out Bish took the ball at the front and set up a rolling maul, they were making yards when their 9 distributed the ball to the three quarters, Ray Loughran charged out of the blocks to make a fantastic man and ball tackle on his opposite number who was penalised for holding onto the ball after the tackle. Barry Walsh released the pressure on Gerald’s when a huge penalty kick to give Gerald’s a line out between the 10m and 22.

The game proceeded in the second half with mistakes from both sides bringing no scoring. On 20 minutes Jack Heavey won ball 30 metres out and went tearing down the cetre of the field beating the defender and sending a pass outside to Mark Benson who went tearing up the left wing; he put a beautiful little chip over their right winger but the bounce of the ball was unkind and he couldn’t collect knocking the ball on. Brilliant scrumaging by the Gerald’s pack saw them win the ball against the head; off went Ryan Padden on a run; then to Barry Walsh and Ray Loughran; Mark Benson took it on; tackled; Dara King played scrum half sending a pass to Walsh; he booted it down into the opposition half but it was taken by the fullback. He went scampering off on a run beating two players but he couldn’t run outside Keelan Finnan and Mark Balaski who brought him to ground; the ball went amiss; the Bish scrum half won ball and threw a pass to the centre who was tackled and penalised for holding on to the ball in the tackle. With the posts in sight, the captain stepped up to take the penalty. The ball went wide of the left hand upright with a 22m drop out pending.


Loitering out at the far right hand touch line was second row Cormac Walsh, he took the drop out cleanly and started his attacking run. He beat the winger with shear strength and then produced a fantastic side step beat the full back and seal the game for St Gerald’s. Conversion missed the score now stood at 24-5.


On 32 minutes the visitors put some lovely back play together; culminating in the outside centre cutting through Gerald’s defence; only to slip when he looked certain to gain a deserved score. The Bish continued relentlessly in the dying minutes of the game but the Gerald’s defence was too strong for them, the Gerald’s men were determined not to let them in and massive smashes on their out half by Thierry Baba saw the St Joseph’s heads drop for the final time.


On 35 minutes the referee blew up for St Gerald’s to claim their first Connacht A-College title, what a match!


Final Score: St Gerald’s 24 ; St Joseph’s (The Bish) 5


St Gerald’s College: U16 Connacht League Champions 2013-14 .


Match report: Chris Davies.




The visitors; playing with a strong westerly wind at their backs kicked off playing down the pitch. First into action were St Gerald’s when they won ball on their 22 metre line from the kick off; scrum half Ryan Padden sent a pass to Barry Walsh who offloaded to Ray Loughran; to winger Keelan Finnan, went racing down the touchline and got tackled at the Marist 10m line, the visitors were penalised for going off their feet giving Gerald’s a penalty. Walsh kicked for the corner with a lineout for Gerald’s.

The Captain called a shortened lineout which he peeled off the back and smashed straight through the Marist out-half to go over under the posts. He converted his own try with ease and St Gerald’s found themselves 7-0 up within five minutes.

The restart saw Marist move the ball wide, their open side winger made a good run down the tramline but felt the force of Cathal Brohan who buried him into touch. From the lineout Heavey won the ball which went off the top to Padden and quickly to Walsh who put a brilliant chip over the blitz defence which he ran onto and gathered to score a spectacular try. The conversion went wide, Gerald’s 12; Marist 0.

With 15 minutes of the game gone Marist had failed to come into the Gerald’s half with any threatening offence; Gerald’s had really taken this game to Marist; who were hard pressed to win either scrum or lineout ball.

The ‘faithful’ fell silent with the score at 12-0.

Back came Marist with some strong charges by their forwards; they attacked straight up the middle of the pitch, they were effective at the breakdown, Gerald’s were now 5m off their own line. The Athlone pack were tiring and their tight head went off his feet to luckily give Gerald’s a penalty which Barry Walsh sent 30m up the field; from the lineout, quick ball off the top saw the ball find Mark Balaski who made a brilliant line break and proceeded on a 30 metre run up field before being brought to ground.
The last play of the first half saw a good attacking move from The Marist off the lineout. They looped the ball wide and got around the Gerald’s midfield to attack the right wing, Balaski had to react quickly to get across to put their winger into touch.


Half time: St Gerald’s 10; Marist 0

St Gerald’s started the second half of this game on the front foot; Barry Walsh with a great tackle on his opposite number. Ultan McDyer kept Gerald’s going forward with some excellent runs and the back row of Baba, King and Heavey were quicker to the break than their opponents. After 3 minutes into the second half an infringement at the breakdown gave Gerald’s a very kickable penalty which the Captain opted to put into touch. An intelligent lineout saw Heavey go over for his second try; but the referee had signalled for a not straight line out and the try was disallowed.
Throughout the second half Gerald’s had to defend for long periods of time. The defence was savage; huge hits and fast line speed were knocking the Athlone men back; at this point they were tiring and you just felt that Gerald’s were completely in charge of this game.

From the scrum, Marist cleared their line with a huge kick from their out half only for the ball to land in Mark Balaski’s hands. The full back jinked and danced through the defence like a young Shane Williams to run in a brilliant 30m solo try.

Marist dropped out with a long kick downfield; Balaski covering sent a good kick into touch on the half way line. The game progressed with Gerald’s firmly in the driving seat.
Gerald’s won a lineout some 25 metres from the Marist try line from good work by McDyer, Heavey and King. Walsh had a move called which saw the inside centre Ray Loughran crash over for his first try of the game.

With 22 minutes of the half gone Gerald’s won the ball in the scrum; off went Barry Walsh on a run; then to Ray Loughran and Mark Benson; Keelan Finnan took it on; tackled; Padden sent a pass to Balaski; he booted it down into the opposition half with Brohan on the chase. Brohan collected the ball and passed to Thierry Baba, who used his lightening pace to go in under the posts for a brilliant team try.

With the clock on 31 minutes Mark “Benny” Benson showed us a moment of brilliance with a fabulous side step and jink to beat a demoralised Marist defence and book a place in the final.
Final Score: St Gerald’s College 38; Marist College 0


Last Updated on Dec092013