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Smyth Has St. Mary’s On The March

Smyth Has St. Mary’s On The March

With Ulster Bank League Division 1A now at the halfway point, it is Peter Smyth’s St. Mary’s College side who currently find themselves at the top of the table.

St. Mary’s gained a 21-8 victory over Cork Constitution on Saturday afternoon, ensuring that they have three points to spare over both Clontarf and Lansdowne.

This is something that head coach Peter Smyth is clearly very pleased with, but he feels that it is still a very open league and that his side have benefited greatly from the presence of some of Leinster’s brightest
young starlets in recent weeks.

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“I’ve just heard some of the scores from other grounds (today). It’s a very, very open league. Every team that has lost has the chance to rewrite that in the return fixture,” he told IrishRugby.ie.

“We’ve been very fortunate to have Jack McGrath back for the last few games. Obviously he’s in the Leinster
squad, he’s training.

“He played very well against Connacht there over Christmas. It’s a huge boost for himself and even for the guys to have
Jack back.

“Jack, Darren Hudson and Ciaran Ruddock are all in knocking about Leinster and their enthusiasm when they come back to us is great.”

Though St. Mary’s had 13 points to spare in the end, it was a tight contest for the most part, and Smyth was full of praise for the way that Cork Con performed.

“We’ve had some great battles with Con over the years, and they’ve probably just edged a few more than we have.

“We’ve so much respect for them. They play a great brand of rugby, and every time we play each other they’re good games for people to come along to.

“Con haven’t gone away. They’ll be there or thereabouts in the last month (of the league) that’s for sure.”

He added: “They played some fantastic rugby. I thought their back-line was the best back-line I’ve seen in action all year. I thought they were superb.

“Gerry Hurley, Scott Deasy, guys like that, Sean Scanlon, with their Munster experience, were pretty outstanding out there today. They took their try very well.

“I think their record is pretty unparalleled in the AIL. Year in, year out and they’re going to be in the mix again
at the end. They have a great coaching team as well. Brian Walsh is probably the top coach in the AIL.”

A key factor in the campaign so far for St. Mary’s has been their ability to keep the opposition score down – this was the fourth occasion that they conceded just ten points or less – and Smyth feels that their defence could proved decisive when it comes to deciding the destination of the Division 1 title.

“In any league in the world defence is key. We rode our luck a bit today as well, but they scrambled well in fairness. We were lucky at times that we just kept them at bay.

“Sometimes though things come against you. It’s vital, especially with only one league champion. It could come down to points difference, it could come down to a bonus point or it could comed down to anything.”