All Ireland League – Old Wesley 20 Naas 21
Old Wesley’s roller coaster ride in the AIL came to an end on Saturday at the hands of a dogged and stubborn Naas side. Naas opened the scoring after 5 minutes with a fairly straight forward penalty goal. Wesley immediately responded bringing play deep into the opposition 22. They looked like they might cross for an early try but had to settle for an Ian Cassidy penalty to level the score. The hosts regained the lead shortly after with another penalty kick. Just when it was starting to look like a game of penalty kicks Naas’s strong centre Henry Bryce found a gap in the Wesley defence. He ran as far as the 22 before delivering a perfect pass to his other centre Johnny Delaney who finished the movement with a try under the posts. Old Wesley were dealt a blow after 30 minutes when scrum half Cassidy had to retire after a knock to the head; however he was ably replaced by Barry McLaughlin. Indeed McLaughlin was not long on the pitch when he made a fine break just short of the half line. He passed to Alan Large who looked like he might make it to the line, however the referee adjudged the pass forward. McLaughlin was on hand again with a penalty kick to reduce the gap and make the score 13-6 to Naas at half time.
Now playing with the significant wind Old Wesley looked the dominant side for the third quarter of the game, regularly bringing play into the opposition 22. A long range penalty kick by McLaughlin just fell short hitting the crossbar. Then with Wesley again attacking and following some fine carries by the forwards Mark Rowley eventually crossed for a try. McLaughlin converted to make it 13 all. Minutes later what looked like an odd decision to run a penalty from inside their own half caught the Naas defence napping. McLaughlin took the tap before passing to Large who ran deep into the opposition half. He passed to Steven Harvey who in turn passed to Richie Jermyn who crossed for a try in the corner. McLaughlin kicked the difficult conversion and 20-13 up Old Wesley looked to be in cruise control.
But the hosts were not prepared to give up. With 12 minutes to go they brought play into the Old Wesley 22 exerting pressure through some slick handling. Wesley kept them out but conceded a penalty under the posts and a yellow card for Mark Rowley. Naas slotted the kick with ease to leave 4 points between the sides. This spurred on the Kildare men and with six minutes remaining Bryce, who caused headaches for Wesley all afternoon, shrugged off a couple of tackles to cross for a try. Naas continued to display great strength in the final minutes even forcing Wesley to concede penalties. There were no further scores and it as Naas who celebrated the final whistle.
Old Wesley will be bitterly disappointed with the result but with to matches remaining they still lead Division 2a by 5 points. More importantly on foot of other results on the day Old Wesley will finish no lower than 2nd place and are promoted to Division 1B for next season.
Team: Rory Stynes, Eoin Stynes, Steven Harvey, Johann Greyling, Richie Jermyn, Alan Large (capt), Ian Cassidy, Ken Knaggs, David Rowley, Oltian Dervishi, Iain McGann, Richie Morrow, Darren Horan, Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley. Subs: Craig Telford, Davy Henshaw, Josh Hinde, Barry McLaughlin, Ger Finucane.
Old Wesley scorers: Mark Rowley, try; Richie Jermyn, try; Ian Cassidy, pen: Barry McLaughlin pen, 2 cons.