All Ireland League – Old Wesley 14 St. Mary’s 20
After last week’s AIL disappointment it was a major improvement as Old Wesley pushed league leaders St. Mary’s to the limit. But a bit like Ireland and New Zealand, history will have to wait for a first ever Old Wesley AIL win over St. Mary’s.
Played in dry and calm conditions on the all weather pitch at Donnybrook both teams looked to attack right from the off in this South Dublin derby. There was little between the sides in the opening encounters however a neat break by Old Wesley centre Billy Ngawini brought play into the Mary’s 22 eventually resulting in the visitors conceding a penalty which Ian Cassidy converted for the first score of the match. But St Mary’s soon displayed their back line skills when winger Ryan O’Loughlin finished off a move involving some slick passing for the first try of the match. Sean Kearns converted to give them a 10-3 lead. A break by Cassidy, who went on to make a number of breaks during the match, looked promising for Old Wesley but the opposition defence did just enough to prevent a score. However St. Mary’s were on the score board after 25 minutes when again their back line showed their superiority this time with a try by Ivan DIneen. Then some good pressure by the Old Wesley pack brought play back into the Mary’s 22. After a number of good phases of play the ball went wide to James Nolan who did exceptionally well to break and skip past a couple of tacklers for a try in the corner. Then just before the break Cassidy pulled back 3 further points with a second penalty kick to leave the score 12-11 to the visitors at half time.
Kearns and Cassidy exchanged penalty goals early in the second half and Cassidy was also just wide with a long range attempt. Approaching the final quarter the match was turning into an exciting and entertaining affair with both teams eager to run the ball at every opportunity. Ngawini again made good ground for Old Wesley but the attack ended after a knock on. Then it was Mary’s turn and they put Old Wesley under huge pressure in their own 22 resulting in Wesley lock Iain McGann being yellow carded for a maul infringement near the line. The pressure eventually told when St Marys had numbers out wide allowing full back Steve Toal-Lennon to cross for their third try. Kearns missed the conversation leaving it 20-14 for the visitors. With less than ten minutes on the clock and a six point difference both sides were only interested in a try but for different reasons; St Mary’s were after the bonus point and Old Wesley after a possible win. Both sides had late scoring opportunities with Wesley looking the more dangerous. St. Mary’s conceded a number of penalties in their 22 and whilst the Wesley supporters bayed for a yellow card the referee did not agree. Into the 4th minute of injury time Wesley looked to have gotten over for a try following a line out attack, however the ball was deemed held up and the score was disallowed. Another Wesley attack and Rory Stynes looked to be in for a try out wide only to be denied by a fingertips tackle by Leinster winger Daragh Fanning who did just enough to slow down the movement. But time was up and with 49 minutes on the clock the referee blew for full time.
Old Wesley team: Rory Stynes, Matt Dever, Billy Henshaw. Ger Finucane, James Nolan, Alan Large, Ian Cassidy [Capt], Davy Henshaw, David Rowley, James Burton, Josh Hinde, Iain McGann, Darren Horan, Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley. Subs: Craig Telford, Martin Gately, Alan Matthews, Adam Kennedy, Barry McLaughlin,
Old Wesley scorers: James Nolan, Try (see video bottom of page); Iain Cassidy, 3 pens.