GARRYOWEN strenuously deny they were guilty of sharp practice at a crucial stage of Sunday’s AIL game against Dolphin at Dooradoyle.
Uncontested scrums had to be introduced midway through the second half of a game won 13-12 by Garryowen with many Dolphin supporters strongly of the opinion they had been unfairly deprived of a massive scrummaging advantage when the home side were left without any member of their starting front row because of injury which, in turn, resulted in uncontested scrums.
However, Gerry O’Mahony, chairman of the Garryowen academy, who had a son in both teams on Sunday (flanker Barry with Dolphin, full-back Ronan with Garryowen), states because of injuries to several players they asked the IRFU for a postponement of Sunday’s game. When the request was turned down, O’Mahony claims they were left in an impossible situation.
“If we didn’t put a couple of youngsters into the front row for their third big match in the space of two weeks, the game would not have been played and we would almost certainly have been deprived of the points,” he said.
“So, we went ahead with the fixture, and sent out 23 year-old Declan Lavery and Jason Harney against two contracted props, Dave Ryan and Julien Brugnaut, and if anything they were even stronger in that area when Christy Condon, a powerful scrummager, came on in the second half.
“A lot of things came up over which we had no control.”
O’Mahony went on to strongly criticise the practice of professional front-row forwards being sent out against amateurs in the AIL. He cited the recent game between Shannon and UL Bohemian in which Jerry Flannery and Marcus Horan, hooker and prop, and Donnacha Ryan, second row, turned out for Shannon.
“We had also had a situation last year when Marcus Horan lined out against us for Shannon,” he recalled.
“We had a young prop, Liam Óg Casey up against him and he popped a rib that day and hasn’t played since. He has become disillusioned with the game and who could blame him?”
When it was pointed out that Garryowen started Sunday’s game with Munster’s Damien Varley as hooker, he countered: “He was there only because our usual hookers Michael Sherry and Robert Meyer were both injured. Damien went off with yet another injury after eight minutes and that meant bringing in one of our U-20s, Dave Rowley, who is in his first year out of school.
“He was very nervous beforehand, but we assured him he wouldn’t be coming on. But circumstances meant he had to play and, while he did exceptionally well, we also think it is very unfair he should have to go out against full-time professionals.”
O’Mahony went further in stating his fears that it is past the time the IRFU put an end to pros going out against amateurs in the league, warning: “sooner or later, we are going to have a tragedy and somebody will have to answer for that. I’m chairman of the Garryowen academy to help promote young players, not to put them in any danger.”
As for claims Garryowen pulled a stroke on Sunday, he concluded: “That was not the case, a lot of things came up over which we had no control and at the end we had six more injured players.
“I had a foot in both camps and have been at a number of Dolphin matches this season and I can assure them there is no way we tried to pull a stroke.”
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