All Ireland League: Old Wesley 17 – Shannon 25
Despite scoring the first try Old Wesley were unable to contain Shannon in an error strewn and penalty dominated match at Thomond Park. With just one try each it was Shannon who showed the better cutting edge denying Old Wesley even a loser’s bonus point.
Old Wesley had a dream start scoring the first points of the game. From a line out midway between the opposition 22 and the half way line No 8 Mark Rowley took the ball up to the 22, then from quick recycled play the ball was swung out the back line resulting in a try by full back Rory Stynes. Barry McLaughlin was wide with the conversion. But Shannon responded immediately forcing a number of penalties and their out half Tadhg Bennett had no difficulty in converting three of them into points to take a 9-5 lead. Indeed prior to the third of these the powerful Shannon pack looked like they might drive over for a try, egged on by their vocal supporters, only to be denied by a knock on. However as the game entered the second quarter it was becoming apparent that Old Wesley were up against a hungrier and better organised outfit. Just before the half hour a Shannon attack brought play deep into the Wesley 22, but in their desperation Wesley conceded another penalty and, to add to their woes, a yellow card for Stephen Boyle. Sensing more than a penalty Shannon opted to run the ball eventually resulting in a cross kick which was fielded and grounded for a try by Will Leonard. Bennett converted to make it 8-16. The Limerick men now had their tails in the air and the visitors were living off scraps. The host were nearly over again and this time Darren Horan was shown yellow for not rolling away and Bennett extended the lead to 8-19. A high tackle on Barry McLaughlin just before half time allowed Wesley to recover 3 points. Then just before half time Wesley were dealt a blow when influential No. 8 Mark Rowley was forced to retire with a mouth injury.
Shannon started the second half where they left off with Bennett kicking two penalty goals to push the score out to 14-25 and any hopes of a Wesley recovery were starting to fade. A third yellow card, this time to Ian Cassidy for an illegal tackle, did not help the cause. But 20 minutes into the second half there was a ray of hope for Old Wesley when Shannon winger Stephen Fitzgerald received a yellow card allowing McLaughlin to peg back 3 points. And five minutes later James Vaughan received a similar punishment for cynical play. But even playing against 13 men Wesley struggled to make any inroads, not helped by an increasing error count. As the final minutes approached it was clear that a win for Old Wesley was out of the question however 8 points adrift they had high hopes of a loser’s bonus point, just needing a score of any type. But much to the amazement of the Old Wesley players and supporters the referee blew the final whistle after just 1 minute and 20 seconds of added time despite their being quite a number of stoppages in the second half.
Old Wesley will be disappointed with their performance and no doubt will be looking to sharpen their act for their next outing against Blackrock.
Old Wesley team: Rory Stynes, Barry McLaughlin, Billy Ngawini, Garry O’Brien, Niall O’Brien, Alan Large, Ian Cassidy [Capt], Martin Gately, David Rowley, James Burton, Josh Hinde, Iain McGann, Darren Horan, Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley. Subs: Craig Telford, Kenny Knaggs, Adam Kennedy, Ger Finucane, Rory Kerins
Old Wesley scorers: Rory Stynes, try; Barry McLaughlin, 4 pens.