With the France v Ireland game cancelled, all attention focused on the big game at Monaghan where the Perennials were the visitors.
The main party travelled by luxury coach from Belfast hoping to extend their unbeaten run and claim their first ever season Grand Slam.
PICTURES TO FOLLOW
Team focus and preparations were diverted by the in coach bar facilities. With young bar tenders Goldsbrough and Trimble pouring cocktails, it was left to our apprentice trolley dolly Philip Parker to serve the passengers.
Whilst the players warmed up before the match, the management and supporters were treated to a wine and cheese reception, courtesy of Paul Bowe, a fitting start to the afternoon.
Under perfect weather conditions, the first quarter ended up with the Perennials a score up, courtesy of George Neilly, who had travelled home from London for the weekend. Monaghan drew level during a closely fought second quarter.
Big games need big decisions, so chairman of selectors, Colin McKee, rested our captain for the third session. The Perennials started to play some champagne rugby, culminating in a fine try in the corner by Kevin Simpson after the ball had moved through the hands over several phases of play. Some claim it is the try of the season so far.
The champagne however must have gone to the head of Chris Weiniger, who tried a ridiculous reverse pass on our 22 metre line, straight into the arms of a very grateful Monaghan player to bring the match level again at 2-2. A no nonsense approach from the selectors saw Chris Weiniger sit-out the final quarter.
The Perennials pushed forward again and following a scrum in front of the Monaghan posts. John ‘Rainbow’ Rainey picked up, threw a quick dummy pass and touched down under the posts to give the Perennials a 3 -2 lead going into the final quarter.
Monaghan pressed for the equalizer and only important cover tackles from Stuart Porter and
Niall Little kept the Perennials ahead, however the pressure eventually told and Monaghan scored from a short penalty.
With the match evenly balanced at 3-3, play became a bit heated and the referee had no choice but to issue two yellow cards, one to each side, with only minutes left on the clock. Martin Malseed may wish to reflect on his actions in advance of his disciplinary hearing.
The final result ended 3 tries a piece.
The usual first class Monaghan hospitality followed the match and our thanks go to Brendan Mallon (Paddy’s younger brother) for a marvelous steak dinner, accompanied by red/white wine.
With ties swapped, a few short speeches, a couple of songs and a few more pints it was then back on the bus for the journey home. Bar staff and trolley dollies ensured the party atmosphere continued, but the bar was eventually closed when xxxxxxxxxx threw-up over the President. Big and expensive disciplinary hearing to follow!