The fungoid growth of corporate entertainment
Skerries 1st XV v Old Wesley, 5th April, 2003 at Holmpatrick
Old Wesley 20
Only one club will be expelled from the senior grade of rugby this season and Monkstown, by volunteering early for the role, have endeared themselves to their fellow-tenants in the basement of the third division. The chronic reluctance of the Sydney Parade side to score more points than their opponents has blunted the sword of Damocles for Skerries, amongst others and the mood at Holmpatrick in recent weeks has been distinctly cavalier. But living in the comfort zone of a league has its drawbacks. Motivation, previously a feature, now tends to be an optional extra. And the support of the faithful becomes less partisan. Or disappears altogether.
Yet the turn-out for the final home game of the season against Old Wesley was above average. Two factors may have helped to swell the numbers. One was a cryptic advertisement in the national press last week. The other was the recent and lucrative fostering by the club of what Cliff Morgan has termed “the fungoid growth of corporate entertainment”. The 3rd division club in the Dublin area, referred to in the Irish Times is now known to be located in the former townland of Rockalyoke. Word is out, therefore, that Skerries are looking for a coach. And that, more significantly, they have a few bob to throw to the right man. Who knows how many of the unidentified spectators on Saturday were, in fact, aspirant employees of the club, come to throw a critical eye over the proceedings.
What impressions would those who were watchng Skerries for the first time have taken away? They would have seen the home team existing for long periods without the ball and would have been lavish in praise of the tenacious tackling that was required to spancel the repeated waves of attack. SHEERAN, the Kiwi at out-half, is not a big fellow but he was putting every milligram of his frame on the line to halt the trundling mastadonts on the other side. His head suffered and when he returned from time-out for a blood-staunch the extravagant bandaging gave him the look of a Hindu philosopher. His fellow-backs were no less resolute, EARLY in particular was short of compromise, and those unfamiliar with the team would have been readily convinced of its defensive qualities. Yet the Old Gold, Cerise and Blue has one of the worst defensive records in the whole of the A.I.L. The problem with the Goats is that they have been aping the boy in the nursery rhyme. When they are good they are very very good but when they are bad they are horrid. On Saturday they were just untypically mediocre. Their reward was a losers bonus point – their first of the season.
The primary task for Skerries, as for all teams, is to find ways of circumventing the new defensive strategies. Feng-Shui is the buzz-word of the house-proud and the supposedly self-fulfilled in the globalised society of to-day. But it might yet become a mantra at rugby grounds. A form of shorthand to indicate disaffection for the modern percussive game. For the benefit of the hermits who haven’t heard of it, Feng-Shui is an old Chinese system of space which seeks to give man increased harmony with his environment. In rugby terms this would mean reducing the clutter and congestion on a pitch to allow a player’s creative energy to express itself more fully. Anything that coralls a defending pack of forwards is good. Attacking from set-piece is not an aberration. The maul is a sacred art. So far so good. But the hoovering must be backed by an express system of ball transmission. And it is here that Lord Holmpatrick’s men are deficient.
Old Wesley had uninterrupted use of the ball for the first quarter. HOGAN kicked an early penalty and then, just as the word hermetic was being dredged up to describe Skerries defence, a substantial gap appeared and CROCKETT the hooker sauntered through for a try at the posts. When the home team finally raised the siege KEANE C kicked two good penalties. Just before the break a Wesley forward lost, not his head but his scrumcap, in trying to contain an abrasive Skerries drive. As the maul advanced DUFF the home scrum-half, coming upon the abandoned headgear, might logically have ignored it. Instead he picked it up and flung it out over the sideline in an instinctive gesture of belligerence, putting one in mind of that cartoon where the allied soldiers, disembarking in all-action mode on the beaches of Normandy, suddenly check their run and begin kicking over the sand-castles.
6-10 at the pause was palatable to Skerries given the imbalance of play. All the more so when WALSHE perforated the visiting rearguard on 51 minutes to take a well-earned try which KEANE converted. The Goats might have augmented their lead but CARAHER untypically sought the score himself when despatch to TANNER might have paid dividends. O’Connor the irrepressible prop made a few trade-mark sallies but KEANE D, the exocet, was cruelly and crucially deprived of munitions on the day. The visitors gradually reasserted ownership of the ball and forward power furnished two further tries for MELVILLE and CROCKETT.
There will be widespread disappointment that the current worthy incumbent of the coaching role is being lured away by his heartless and faceless employers in the world of finance. HEENEY’S inaugural year as supremo had given promise of ultimate box-office success. Maybe his valedictory day in Waterford will be saluted by that elusive first away win.