After what was a very pleasant morning for the trip down to Limerick, the afternoon unfortunately turn out miserable for this Ulster Bank League game at Fitzgerald Park.
The teams took to the pitch with a mist coming down and a very fine drizzle accompanied by a stiff breeze, which made it an extremely difficult afternoon for both the players and the good number of Wesley supporters who had made the trip. Thomond played with the breeze in the first have and with their big strong and mobile pack put Old Wesley under a lot of pressure in the opening quarter. However, the defence stood firm and Old Wesley then started to put together a number of attacks and tried to play some open rugby. It is fair to say that both sides tried to play some open attractive rugby and at times the handling was excellent in the conditions. After one expansive move, Stephen Walsh was somewhat unfortunate not to score. As one would expect in the conditions, balls were dropped and Thomond used the wind well to drive Old Wesley back into the corners with some good kicking. As the half wore on the Thomond pack exerted more pressure and were awarded two penalties which they duly converted to take a 6 – nil lead into the break.
The conditions did not get any better after the break and despite putting Thomond under a lot of pressure and creating a number of good scoring opportunities, the Thomond defence held firm. As the match entered the last ten minutes the scores were level thanks to two well struck penalties by Barry McLaughlin. Old Wesley at this stage, were throwing everything into it as they went in search of the win. After a series of phases in the Thomond 22 and in front of the posts, the ball came out to Rory Stynes who looked set to distribute the ball to the left but then stepped back inside to slot a well taken drop goal and put Old Wesley into the lead for the first time in the match.
Thomond were not about to accept defeat and from the kick off mounted a series of attacks, one of which lead to a penalty which they slotted over against the elements with an excellent kick, to bring the sides level again. It was now well into injury time and Thomond launched another attack into the Old Wesley half and as the referee appeared to put his arm out for a penalty, a Thomond player hacked the ball up field towards the goal line. It was a straight race to the ball that stopped just short of the line, which Wesley won to clear to touch. It was with great relief to the Wesley support that the referee blew his final whistle when many expected that he may have come back for the penalty on the ten metre mark.
Finally, it is with regret that we say goodbye to two of our exciting backline, Alan Thompson and Stephen Walsh, who both played their last game of the season for Old Wesley, as they are heading off shortly to Australia. I know that we all wish them well and hope it is not long before we see them back in the Old Wesley colours again.
Old Wesley Scorers :- Barry McLoughlin, 2 pen; Rory Stynes, DG