This weekend, the Montreal Irish hosted the Quebec Rugby provincial championships in St Julie. Six finals were played, and three of these did not include the Irish: in division B2, the Braves defeated St Jean; in both division B1 and B-reserve, Parc-O defeated RCM to win the title. The Montreal Irish would like to congratulate all winners and finalists.
In the three other finals, the Montreal Irish faced off against St Anne`s Rugby Club. This was a huge day for both clubs as St Annes was hoping to continue their dominance of quebec rugby – especially at the prem level – and the Irish were looking to show that there is a new force in Quebec rugby to be reckoned with.
IRISH III vs. ST ANNE`S III – 10am
The first of three finals was the first game of the day. Both team features a mix of youth and experience . The Irish were led by captain Jean Bisson and controlled the game early. Strong tackling and good runs gave the Irish scoring opportunities that they capitalized on: Trevor Lane supplying the also good kicking and Steve Boire scoring his first every rugby try.
The second half saw the Irish play a more defensive role as St Anne`s stepped up the attack. Although they conceded some points, the Irish played amazing defense, punctuated by players such as Sorg who laid some punishing tackles. The pressure was strong from the opposition but the boys stood strong – including a nerve-racking ten minute goal stand at the end of the game – and came away with a huge win by the score of 16-12. Player of the game honours went to fly half Dave O`Neill who played a great game (editor’s note: Dave O’Neill fractured his leg in the first half, finished the game, won MVP and was at the bar by 9). Congrats to Jean and all the boys!
IRISH II vs. ST ANNE`S II – 2pm
The second final promised to be a great game as the hitherto undefeated Irish were up against a team that they had beat by a single point the last time they played. The boys were lead by captain Bob Meunier. The Irish came out strong showing the skill that they showed all year and were rewarded by an early try. St Annes came back to score some points and take the lead. The Irish seemed to gain momentum as half time approached and came close to scoring on several occasions.
(Editor note: we are waiting for an official match report of the second half as we unfortunately had to miss the second half. In the end, the boys lost a tough game 20-13, but played with pride and respect and should be proud of their season.)
For the Irish, player of the game had to go Rob Lowe who played a great game and dished out some of the most punishing hits ever given at St Julie. Congrats should go to St Annes for the win, but also to the Irish for one of the finest rugby seasons ever played.
IRISH I vs. ST ANNE`S I
Having each won a final, this game was surely going to decide which club would be considered the top of rugby in quebec for 2010. As all other games were
over, the entire focus shifted to this game, the biggest game in club rugby in quebec. The crowd was huge, divided between supporters of the Irish, supporters of St Anne`s and other onlookers and players. The tension was palatable and both teams were amped up and ready to go.
From the kickoff to the final whistle, the game was intense and very physical. The Irish were led out by captain Mark Gallagher and came out firing. Great kicking by fly-half Huw Roberts and great support by speedsters Acker, Clint and Michel saw the Irish on the offensive to start the game. They were eventually rewarded with a penalty (Huw Roberts).
What followed could only be described as an onslaught by St Annes who threw everything they had at the Irish defense. They made innumerable runs at the line, but the Irish defense would not budge, players like Mark, Paul (Juice!), P-L, David S.,Crandall, Havachat and Gareth making tackles left, right and center keeping St Anne`s off the board.
The Irish quickly changed from defense to offense as Michel intercepted a pass and ran for a huge gain; after some hard work in the opposition end, the Irish managed to scored (fullback Morgan) out wide for a half time score of 8-0 for the Irish. Also of note in the first half was a line out driven over the goal line by the Irish that was called “held up” and a similar call made on a St Anne’s play.
The second half was much like the first with the Irish coming out strong and then playing some superb defense. This time, however, the St Annes attack could not be denied forever and they crossed the line for an 8-5 score. The Irish came back, led by huge performances by front row players Tim, Garry and James Murray who scrummed as hard as any front I have every seen. Strong play from the forwards meant good ball for the backs and led to another try by scored by Huw for a socre of 13-5.
Sensing the game might be slipping away, St Annes went on the attack again and scored another try (converted) after the Irish once again put up a Herculean effort on defense for a score of 13-12. This had to be the most tense moment of the entire game as players and fans knew that the game could go either way.
Subs Rich Spence and James McKay came in and made immediate impacts keeping the scrum strong and the backs line intact and strong; they joined Gareth, who had come in earlier and made an impact in all aspect of the game, including a few strong runs.
The Irish remained calm and showed enough poise not to rest on a one point lead as they put pressure on the St Annes defense. The Irish managed to get the ball deep in St Anne’s end but they started to run the ball out, as they had at least a two man overlap. Their run was short-lived as PVW (Juice!) intercepted a pass and scored the try. With only ten-ish minutes left, the Irish had only to hold on to what was now a 20-12 lead. Keeping the ball in tight, the Irish did just that and the game ended fittingly when Andy Plimer, who had played another superb game both defensively and offensively, kicked the ball to touch to set off the celebration.
The Irish were Quebec champions! The initial celebration was short as the Irish gave three cheers for St Annes (and one for the ref, Chris, who reffed another good one); we would like to thank St Annes who were gracious in both victory and defeat on the day — and who play the game the right way.
The most valuable player went to fullback Morgan Findlay…well deserved. The celebration was huge and was capped by a great speech by coach Tolson. In his speech he made sure to thank Dave Keane and Marvin who were both instrumental in the club`s success. Thanks should also be given to coach Baillie, who unfortunately could not be there.
The lads partied hard and a huge celebration has held at Hurleys that last well into the night. The celebration restarted on Sunday as coach Tols had been unable to attend the night before because of pain from a long day of coaching.
In terms of the fans, there was a great mix of old boys, players, family, friends and well wishers and their impact was felt throughout the game. The chants of “Irish! Irish!” were definitely heard on the field and gave the boys motivation and strength.
Thanks should be given to all those who made the day possible, all the volunteers, the bartenders, the bbq-ers, and everybody who helped make this day one of the most memorable in the Montreal Irish Rugby Club`s history.
Lastly, back to the title of this post: 26-5-2. This symbolizes the 2010 record of our three teams put together — something the entire club can be proud of. It has been a long time since the club has been in this position — and we want to thank all those who have helped us get here.
The above pic was a shot of as many people as we could find that have worn green over the years. What a club! MIRFC for life.
Dave Crandall and Mark Gallagher