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Our season kicked off with an away fixture to St Mary’s in Templeville Road as part of the newly restructured Leinster Senior Cup. The game had originally been scheduled for Lansdowne Road however the College Football game between Notre Dame and Navy saw the match being moved.

As is the case with a lot of early season games there were a lot of new faces on view.

St Marys got on the scoreboard first when an early attack out wide by their new signing ex Young Munster back Conor Hayes led to them winning a straight forward penalty which was easily slotted over by centre Mick O’Gara. Stephen Madigan levelled the scores shortly afterwards when Lansdowne were awarded a scrum penalty. Straight off the restart Lansdowne were penalised and Marys kicked over another penalty to regain the lead 6-3.

In tit for tat fashion Lansdowne were awarded another penalty after an attacking lineout in the Marys 22 saw Marys infringe at the midfield ruck. Debutant Stephen McMahon (on as a sub for Stephen Madigan and one of 8 Lansdowne players making their competitive debut for the club) calmly kicked over a straightforward penalty and his first points in a Lansdowne jersey. A poorly executed exit shortly afterwards saw Lansdowne penalised at the breakdown ( a recurring theme through out the match) and allowed St Marys regain the lead to go 9-6 ahead.

Some good midfield play saw Lansdowne work their way into the Marys 22. Sean Walsh won the subsequent lineout and following a couple few forward rumbles the ball was moved left only for Cathal Eddy to pop up off his right wing and run a lovely trail off McMahon to run in under the posts for a nicely created try which McMahon duly converted leaving Lansdowne 13-9 in front. A better exit from the kick off saw Marys resort to an aerial attack from their own half which led to fullback and captain Cillian Redmond getting somewhat harshly yellow carded as he competed for the box kick in the air and collided with the Marys winger. Marys kept the pressure on Lansdowne and counter attacked from a stray Lansdowne clearance and a nice interchange of passes saw their 2nd row Daniel Leane touch down 15m in from the left touchline. The successful conversion gave St Marys a 16-13 lead going into half-time.

St Marys started the 2nd half the brighter of the two teams and after some well retained possession their fullback Conor Hayes got over the line in the right corner on his Mary’s debut. A well struck conversion from the touchline saw them take a 23-13 lead. Matters didn’t improve when Lansdowne hooker Tom Barry saw yellow for a no arm tackle directly off the restart. St Marys looked to turn the screw and take advantage of their numerical superiority by looking to stretch Lansdowne in attack however some staunch defence saw Lansdowne turnover the ball on their own 22 and Lansdowne number 8 Harry Van Eaden (another new face) burst up the middle of the park and after several phases of play George Morris burrowed over for his first Lansdowne senior which was skillfully converted by McMahon. Mary’s lead had been narrowed to a slender 23-20.

The restart saw sub Matt Grogan run 60 or more metres down the pitch and Lansdowne were only just denied another try having been  adjudged to have knocked on just short of the line. But Lansdowne were firmly camped in the Marys half and were to make their territorial advantage count when a couple of minutes later U20 2nd row Luke O’Connor blocked down a box kick from the Marys 9 just inside their 22 and Luke showed a great turn of pace to beat the Marys defence to the bouncing ball diving over to touch down for a try on his competitive debut for Lansdowne. The try went unconverted but Lansdowne now had their noses in front 25-23.

Things got better again for Lansdowne when following a Cillian Redmond catch off kick off James Kenny launched a box kick only for his brother George to recover the kick and off load to lively winger Sean Galvin who galloped in 20 metres under the posts for another Lansdowne try. Within only a few minutes Lansdowne had turned around a ten point deficit and now led 32-23. Quite the comeback!

Following a fine break by Barry Fitzpatrick Lansdowne were awarded a penalty on the Marys 22 in front of the posts which Stephen Madigan (back on again) kicked successfully to leave the score 35-23.

Yet another Lansdowne indiscretion at the breakdown gave Marys an attacking lineout 5 metres out from the Lansdowne line. New second row Jack Cooke who has joined from London Irish stole the lineout and we cleared our lines however off the resulting lineout the Mary’s 7 Ethan Baxter who had a lively game broke off the maul and bustled over the line. The conversion was missed meaning Lansdowne still held a 7 point lead as we went into the closing 10 minutes.

Attack being the best form of defence Lansdowne continued to keep the pressure on Marys resulting in 2 narrowly missed penalty kicks from Madigan and saw out the last few minutes without any real threat from Marys.

So a promising start to the new season and lots to build on. Congratulations to Rory Parata, Jack Cooke, Stephen McMahon, Dylan O’Keeffe, Sean Walsh, Luke O’Connor, Tom Barry and George Kenny on the debuts for Lansdowne. Next up in the Leinster Senior Cup We play Clontarf away in a Friday fixture in Castle Avenue on Sept 8th.

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