Metro League Division 7
Tymon Park

There was a reality check for Tallaght RFC as to just how tough Division 7 of the Metro league is as Old Belvedere inflicted a comprehensive 31-0 defeat on them. In doing so, Belvedere took Tallaght’s place at the top of the table and knocked them down to third with AIB taking second place on points difference. Ciaran Stewart, a GAA player from Fermanagh who only took up the game last year, has been one of Tallaght’s stars this season since moving to out-half. However this time he was up against Ray Monaghan, a vastly experienced player who was part of Old Belvedere’s All Ireland League-winning squad only three years ago. Monaghan isn’t as fit as he was in his peak but his rugby skills and know-how were still razor sharp as he dominated the game from start to finish.

Monaghan took only two minutes to open the scoring for Belvedere with a penalty after Tallaght conceded a penalty at a ruck. Stewart had a chance to equalise for Tallaght with a penalty from long distance but, though he struck it well, it drifted just wide. With a gale force win blowing Tallaght tried to kick for territory but while the tactic was correct the execution was poor, as was the kick-chase. The experienced Old Belvedere side boxed clever in the first half continually exposing Tallaght with counter-attacks from the poor kick-chasing.

Their first try exposed the gulf in experience between the two sides. Tallaght had won a ball around midfield but poor body positions at the ruck meant Belvedere were able to counter-ruck and win back the ball. Monaghan chipped the ball into space and though Alan Bernes did well to get back and cover he was pressured into kicking the ball straight back to Monaghan, who checked and then picked a perfect line to run through untouched for a try. He missed the conversion but Belvedere now had an 8-0 lead they would hold until half-time.

In the second half Belvedere made better use of the wind through Monaghan’s pin-point tactical kicking and they camped themselves in Tallaght’s half. Tallaght defended manfully with Colin Malone, Emil Wyrebiak and Paul Cunningham all made several big tackles. But Tallaght were consistently penalised for offside and Monaghan punished them by kicking two more penalties to increase the lead to 14-0. Tallaght tried to hit back but Belvedere’s defence was simply too good, shutting down all of Tallaght’s main ball carriers and turning them over at ruck time all too often. Tallaght weren’t helped by a horrendous runs of injuries too that saw them lose key men like Dave Clarke, Alan Bernes, Colin Malone, Simon Sweeney and Jack Russell.

Eventually the pressure told and Belvedere ran in three tries in 10 minutes, one of which was converted to increase their lead to 31-0. Tallaght never gave up and conceded no points in the last quarter of the match, but in truth Old Belvedere eased up a little with the game won.

So Tallaght’s winning run was brutally halted and they were given a harsh lesson that against top teams, any mistakes will be ruthlessly punished. Tallaght need to learn that lesson quickly and regroup for the visit of local rivals Clondalkin next week to get their league campaign back on track. There’s still a long way to go in this league and Tallaght can still have a massive say in the outcome but now they know exactly what level they need to get to.
Tallaght R.F.C.

15 Alan Bernes
14 Darran Kearney
13 Dave Clarke
12 Jack Russell
11 Colin Malone

10 Ciaran Stewart
9 Aodhan Tinney

8 Simon Sweeney (captain)
7 Emil Wyrebiak
6 Paul Cunningham
5 Alan Moore
4 Joe Ivers
3 Declan Malone
2 Ollie Murphy
1 Tony McManus


Stephen Kelly
Simon Cumiskey
Richard Wilson
Gary Doyle
James Maher
Stephen Heaney

Jim O’Connor ©