Mount St. Michael Secondary School

MSM Senior 'All-Blacks' through to Connacht Final

MSM 'All-Blacks' on the verge of a historic two-in-a-row after a sizzling performance
MSM Senior 'All-Blacks' through to Connacht Final
MSM 'All Blacks' 63
Mercy Tuam 27
The MSM ‘All Blacks’ are on the verge of a historic two-in-a-row in the Connacht championship after a 70 point thriller against The Mercy Convent in Tuam. The Scoil Bhride team represent both The Mercy Tuam and the Presentation College in the town ahead of their planned amalgamation later in the year,but the Galway girls were still no match for MSM’s high quality offloading game in testing weather conditions at Colts Park on Wednesday afternoon.

MSM were on the scoreboard early in the game when some clever link play between the forwards created space for Rhona O’Dea to dive over for a stunning opening try. Rhona is part of the Connacht under-18 team which recently defeated their Munster counterparts in a big interprovincial derby and it is easy to see why on this impressive form.

This was followed soon after by a brilliant finish from TY student Siomha McNulty who very cleverly positioned herself on the shoulder of the ball-carrier to take the final pass and dot the ball down between the sticks for a super team score. Siomha is affectionately nicknamed ‘The star’ in sporting circles around the school,such is her wonderful ability across a range of different sports. You name it - Siomha can play it and play it to a very high standard as she is the ultimate sporting all-rounder.

MSM’s scoring continued when the excellent Niamh Corless produced one of those special moments where she accurately predicts the timing of the opposition pass and intercepts the ball before sprinting the length of the pitch to add another 5 points to the tally. Aoife Kelly was heavily involved in some fantastic attacking moves and Aoife’s slick passing game created overlaps for her colleagues helping MSM to reach the half-century of points before half-time.

Saoirse Quinn is the heartbeat of the side and has the capacity to pass the ball to the right player at the right time. There was huge jubilation when Saoirse crossed over for a try deep in first half stoppage time and Saoirse had the presence of mind to run underneath the posts to make the conversion easier for kicker Grainne Hahessy. But ‘the best laid plans often go awry’ as they say, and Saoirse was set upon over the try-line by two Tuam tacklers in a desperate attempt to stop our ‘captain fantastic’ from grounding the ball. Saoirse was able to wriggle free after being sandwiched between both defenders to finally score the try that her performance richly deserved.

Ruby Phillips is a wonderful rugby player and one of the best passers of a rugby ball in the province. Ruby is a gem and made a series of important tackles while combining effortlessly with Saoirse Quinn at half-back to steer the MSM ship to a comprehensive victory.

Mollie Barrett entered the action early in the first half and made her usual barnstorming runs with the ball. Mollie has a superb attitude on and off-the-pitch and is always eager to do the hard work at the ruck or further out in the backline with her awesome strength and skill. Mollie combined well with fellow LC student Leah Sheridan who has become an important leader within the forward unit and an unsung hero for the team. ‘Leah the Great’ always carries the ball effectively through tacklers and bravely into the heart of the opposition defence.

Alana Fitzpatrick is master of her craft in the wing position and when Alana gets the ball in space she is a formidable force and her fierce determination means she always makes yards and has the potential to rack up a number of tries in every game.

Lisa Prendergast re-joined the MSM senior panel this year and what an addition she has been! Lisa always has a huge tackle count and her direct carrying game means it’s almost impossible to stop Lisa in full flight. Just when Mercy Tuam were coming back into the game in the second half,Lisa got in for a high quality score to swing the game back in MSM’s favour and reinforce their superiority.

Scientists spent years working out whether light or sound travels faster. . .but neither light nor sound travels as fast as Deirbhile Horkan with the oval ball in her hand. Deirbhile was able to round the Tuam defence and set off on a marathon run for a try leaving her team-mates,the opposition and the touch judge on the side-line far behind!

Dropping kicking the ball is probably the hardest skill in rugby and after each try,Grainne Hahessy has to convert the try by drop-kicking the ball from where the try is scored. Grainne somehow managed to complete the game with a 100% success record from these conversions. Grainne’s exploits added two points after each try and rumour has it Johnny Sexton looks for kicking tips from Grainne before Ireland’s Six Nations games.

Player of the match in this big Connacht semi-final is the ‘Kilvine Rocket’ Máire Feerick. Máire has given incredible service to schools’ rugby over her six years and has perfected the art of fielding the high ball. When Máire gathers possession in the backfield - she strikes fear into the heart of the opposition with her well balanced arching running lines and exceptional leadership skills which were on show right throughout this semi-final.

The game was played in the right spirit from these two sporting teams and well handled by referee Mike Smith who allowed the game to flow when it was needed,but had full control of proceedings from the first whistle. The pitch was in pristine condition as always in Colts Parks and it has proven a lucky charm for this high class outfit all year.

Team manager Fergal ‘Freddie’ Byrne will now rally the MSM troops for a second Connacht final in as many years as this team head into their final game of the year in Connacht Rugby headquarters : The Galway Sportsgrounds on March 8th. The Convent Roscommon or Sligo Grammar stand in the way of another Connacht crown but it will be no surprise to see the MSM ‘All Blacks’ retain the title to make themselves the queens of provincial rugby in the West of Ireland for another year.

Final tickets will be released next week and such is the high demand among MSM supporters and fans,it appears that the famous Connacht Clan Stand on College Road will once again dance to the beat of Mount Saint Michael fans in the middle of March.

Everyone after the game was asking the same question about kick-off times and tickets for the Connacht final. The question on everyone’s lips after the game was “Will you be there to see history unfold on March 8th?’
MSM Senior 'All-Blacks' through to Connacht FinalMSM Senior 'All-Blacks' through to Connacht Final
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