While Garryowen deserved to secure a quarter-final with Blackrock College and derived a confidence boost from defeating the AIL pacesetters, this result must be taken in context. The torrential rain of the past week made for a waterlogged pitch and while both sides tried to spread the ball wide as often as was practicable, spilled passes and errors were the order of the day.
Gerry Hurley, better-known for his exploits as a scrum-half, again wore the number 10 jersey for Garryowen and proved his side’s matchwinner. He landed three penalties in the first half hour against one for St Mary’s by Gavin Dunne and then tapped over the conversion when referee David Keane deemed the visitors had deliberately collapsed a retreating scrum on their own line and awarded a penalty try.
Having enjoyed the benefit of the wind in the first half, a 16-3 lead was no guarantee of success for the hosts. They had been forced to battle for 10 minutes without their outstanding forward Paul Neville who was yellow carded for illegally quelling a Mary’s attack and were struggling to bring their young and speedy three-quarters into the action.
However, the Dublin team also struggled with the conditions on the turnover and the only score of the second half was a Hurley penalty.
Garryowen are not getting carried away with the result as they now turn their attentions to trying to bounce back from a shaky start to the league – they lie in second last place in section A of the first division.
“No, we will not be patting ourselves on the back,” agreed Hurley. “We have been doing poorly in the league and while injuries haven’t helped and we’re now getting guys back, winning becomes a habit and we haven’t had too much of that. But today should be a help.
“We showed a lot of character and I was delighted with the great attitude of the pack. We lost to Mary’s in the league here in similar conditions a couple of weeks ago and we learned from that. There’s nothing like getting a second chance to take on a team that beat you a short while before.”
His words now carry an even greater resonance given that Garryowen’s next cup opponents are Blackrock, who administered a humiliating 48-14 hiding to them in their league clash.
“What happened that day was hard to take and we owe them one,” said Garryowen director of rugby, Greig Oliver, the former Scotland scrum-half. “We needed to front up today and the response was good. We have been close in most of our games but close is not good enough. Now we move on to the league and a huge game against Dolphin next week.”
GARRYOWEN: W. Staunton; D. McCarthy, C. Doyle (c), K. Hartigan, R. O’Mahony; G. Hurley, C. Murray; R. Brosnan, M. Sherry, D. Lavery, F. McKenna, E. Mackey, P. Neville, A. Kavanagh, D. Sherry. Replacements: L. Burke for Hartigan (35); C. Hartigan for Kavanagh (65); J. Harney for Brosnan (65); R. Meyer for Sherry and A. McCloskey for McKenna, (both 75).
ST MARY’S: S. Flanagan; Conor Quinn, S. Grissing, F. Hudson, R. Doherty; G. Dunne, J. Burns; C. McMahon, D. Kilbride, K. Carroll, G. Logan, S. Bradshaw, P. Nash (c), B. O’Flanagan, D. Hall. Replacements: R. Copeland for Logan 50; Cormac Quinn for Burns 60; M. Sexton for Grissing 70.
Referee: D. Keane (IRFU).