It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for Leinster hooker and Clontarf director of rugby Bernard Jackman. After the delight of helping his province qualify for a Heineken Cup semi-final, Jackman watched as his Clontarf side suffered a relegation-confirming 39-24 defeat to St. Mary’s College at Castle Avenue.
Clontarf’s only chance of avoiding relegation on Saturday was a bonus point victory over an excellent St. Mary’s College side and although this was a big ask, there must have been some belief in Bernard Jackman’s men.
Given that St. Mary’s recent record against Clontarf has been quite poor (three wins out of their last 13 fixtures), ‘Tarf would have been hoping for the best. Ultimately though, they were well outmuscled in their final AIB League Division 1A match.
‘Tarf needed to get early tries on the board but they could not manage to breach their opponents’ line until the 63rd minute through second row and captain Simon Crawford.
They did deliver two more well-executed tries after that from replacement Henry Bryce and number 8 Martin Garvey, but St. Mary’s had the game pretty much wrapped-up at that stage.
St. Mary’s amassed a total of 39 points with five tries on the board and 19 points coming from efficient full-back Gavin Dunne.
For Clontarf boss Jackman, a ten-minute lapse in concentration was the deciding factor in the loss.
He told IrishRugby.ie afterwards: “We had a good first half, we went in 8-3 down at half-time, playing with a wind in the second half and we missed a kick to touch with a penalty.
“Then we kinda let the heads drop for ten minutes and St. Mary’s scored four tries and the game was over.”
Clontarf have found themselves trying to fight their way out of several games throughout the season and Jackman admitted that this was something that they need to work on.
“The lads all season have shown a lot of courage, when they’ve gone behind and the ball is fought for until the last minute.
“But it really typifies our season that we haven’t been able to play for 80 minutes and we’ve conceded tries and let teams into a game and we’ve always had to chase back then.
“And that’s something we need to learn from for next year. We need to work hard on that over the summer,” he conceded.
It must have been a stinging blow to suffer relegation in his first season at the helm, but the experienced hooker, who says he will be able to devote more time to Clontarf next season, is confident that they will get back into the top flight.
“I definitely think we will bounce back. I’m here full-time next year and the lads are committed to staying and we’ll have a good pre-season and learn from our mistakes and move on.
“I think we just need to work on some of our mental toughness and just stop letting a couple of mistakes knock us out of our stride.
“It’s certainly something that Leinster worked on last year and it kinda led to a Heineken Cup and gave us the ability to close out tight games.”
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