The Terenure College RFC U20’s began the second half of their season with a trip to Castle Avenue to play Clontarf.
The corresponding fixture earlier in the season was a very tight game with Tarf managing to hold on for the narrowest of victories in Lakelands.
The team and management knew the return fixture would be close again and what a game it turned out to be.
On a mild January day, a large crowd travelled from Terenure to support the 20’s. After a long break over Christmas and into January both teams were eager to start the game well. After a frantic start with both sides testing the resolve of each other’s defences, it was Tarf that manged to claim the first score. The Tarf hooker finding a gap in the Nure defence and racing along the 4G pitch from far out to score. In typical Terenure College fashion the team came right back from the restart claiming possession and territory deep into the Clontarf half.
The Nure pack fighting hard to retain possession and taking on a bigger Tarf pack at every opportunity. The exchanges were tough and uncompromising from both sides. After a number of phases and constant pressure to the Tarf line they were penalised under their own posts and close in. A piece of quick thinking from Yago Fernandez saw him take a quick tap and make a burst for the Tarf line. He succeeded in crossing and extras were added easily. 7-7 now in a very entertaining first quarter.
The Terenure pack deserve mention at this point. Competing in all facets of the game; lineout, scrum and at ruck time they didn’t yield to their opponents and fought magnificently to ensure the contest remained a battle. The front row worked tirelessly in the early exchanges and lead by example – Alex Cashman, Oliver Udell and Tim Staunton constantly carrying the ball and making valuable metres throughout the game. Our second rows led magnificently by Captain Oisín Shannon and ably supported by Evan Collins claimed valuable lineout ball and caused enough anxiety to their opponent’s lineout to ensure a competitive afternoon.
Oisín also making countless metres while testing the Tarf defence with surging runs. While our scrum was always going to be under pressure against a bigger pack the Nure back row worked tirelessly to ensure our scrum ball was secure to allow the ever-probing Nure scrum half Cillian Keaney time to test the Tarf defence. The back row created a platform with fierce defence and many excellent carries throughout the game as well as supporting in varied lineout calls. Kieran Kelly prominent in so many exchanges and the influential support of Sean Ruane and Darragh Brooks always evident in the game.
With half time fast approaching the game moved between each 22 with Nure fighting hard for another score to take a valuable lead and Tarf exerting pressure on the Nure line only to be repelled on a number of occasions. It was a titanic battle and in reality, there was little to separate the teams when they broke for half time all square.
The second half started in the same frantic pace as the first half was played in. This time Tarf started the better of the two sides and worked their way into the Nure half and from close in following a number of rolling mauls managed to cross the Nure whitewash. 14-7 to the Northsiders early into the second half. The Terenure response was brave and controlled.
Continuously taking the game to Tarf and looking for space to attack we managed to apply pressure to Tarf and remind them that we hadn’t come just to make up the numbers. With Clontarf looking to launch an attack on halfway and working down our short side – Odhran McKeon brilliantly reading their out half looking for a long pass to feed their right winger he stepped in and plucked the ball from the air and rounded one defender to make a break and sprint for the line. The score is 14-14 and its game on!
The Nure backline was looking very assured and confident in running the game. Jim Kennedy constantly making probing runs from deep and Jack Grimes framing the attack with beautiful crisp passes from Cillian Keaney. Matt Vaughan also proving a strong physical presence for the Tarf defenders to deal with. Our confidence growing after Odhran’s great score we managed a penalty to nudge us ahead 14-17.
With the game entering a critical stage and anxious Nure fans starting to watch the clock Tarf attacked into our 22 and after some valiant Nure defending our line was breached. Tarf lead 21-17. Still time for Terenure to come back and seek the promised land. But time was ticking slowly away and Tarf were steadfast in defence. Nure emptied the bench for the final chapter of this heroic battle.
On came Pete McNamara, Mike Murphy, Aaron Dorgan, Harvey O’Leary, Tom Murray and Oscar Morgan getting his first taste of a fiercely contested Dublin derby. Cool heads needed now as we worked hard for the winning score. With time firmly against us we forced a succession of lineouts in the Tarf 22 all managed brilliantly by replacement hooker Mike Murphy and calmly controlled by the Nure pack. Nure brought the ball back into the middle of the Tarf 22 for the final assault.
A number of rucks later and deep into injury time the ball came to Harvey O’Leary and with assured calmness he moved it from left to right to allow James Clarke to dive over on the right side of the pitch and score the winning points. Conversion was missed from the touchline, but it mattered little as the win was secured and Terenure College RFC had prevailed in a heroic display of attack and defence that all 22 players contributed to.