D2a2b Final – Old Wesley 31 – Tullamore 26
Old Wesley beat Tullamore in the final of the D2a2b Cup at Donnybrook retaining the trophy they won in its inaugural year last season. But compared to the earlier stages of the competition where they advanced with relative ease, this time the opposition proved to be hungrier for victory.
The visitors came out with all guns blazing putting Old Wesley under intense pressure in the early stage, and scoring a try by second row Michael Tormey after just one and a half minutes. Wesley soon got back into opposition territory where Steve Harvey came close to scoring but despite their sustained pressure were unable to turn territory and possession into points. Indeed it was Tullamore who added to their points when on their second visit to the Old Wesley 22 the Wesley defence was stretched allowing winger Jordon Conroy to score in the corner. Out half Deverell converted to make it 12 nil to the Offaly men. Wesley needed to score next if they had any chance of recovering and this they did. Flanker Steven Boyle set up good ruck ball and from the ensuing phase Steven Harvey crossed for a try breaking two tackles in the process. On the half hour mark a break down the wing saw Tullamore come close to a third try but a fine tackle by Conor Lavelle saved the day for Wesley. As half time approached a pin point accurate line kick by Rory Stynes gave Wesley a line out seven meters from the line. Iain McGann, who dominated in the line out all afternoon, won clean possession and from a classic backline attack Lavelle crossed to score near the posts. Barry McLaughlin converted to make it 12 all at half time.
The home side raised their game in the early stages of the second half forcing the opposition to concede a number of penalties. McLaughlin was accurate with two of these, first from the relative easy of the 22 than a well struck long range effort from the 10 meter line. Then from a fairly innocuous ruck inside the Old Wesley half McGann made a break down the wing. Ivan Campbell was in support and took the pass just outside the 22 to cruise over for a try. McLaughlin’s conversion extended the lead to 25-12 for Old Wesley and it looked like they were in cruise control. However the opposition had other ideas and they soon pulled back seven points with a well taken try by winger Conroy, who was Tullamore’s most potent player on the day. McLaughlin restored the two score lead with a penalty bringing the score to 28-19. Then Tullamore danger man Conroy struck again pulling it back to a two point game with a converted try under the posts. As full time approached Tullamore pressure saw them set up good ruck ball in front of the Wesley posts. But the drop goal attempt was well read by Alan Large who blocked down the kick and cleverly kicked downfield to relieve the pressure, forcing the visitors to concede a penalty under the posts. McLaughlin converted with ease. Tullamore were still not giving up and Wesley had to dig deep in the final stages. One wonders where the referee found 6 minutes of extra time but with 46 minutes of the second half gone he blew for full time to the relief of the home side.
Team: Alan Large (capt), Barry McLaughlin, Steven Harvey, Kieran Hurrell, Conor Lavelll, Rory Stynes, Ian Cassidy, Kevin Becker, Darren Horan, James Burton, Paul McCarroll, Iain McGann, Thomas Ratahi, Steven Boyle, Gavin Hinde. Subs: Brian Hastings, John Carroll, Wes Deverell, Jamie Boyle, Dave Henshaw, Ivan Campbell, Ian Slattery
Old Wesley scorers: Steven Harvey, Conor Lavelle, Ivan Campbell, try each. McLaughlin 2 cons,4 pens