All Ireland League – Old Wesley 16 Malone 12
The Seniors put in a huge defensive display to claim a highly valuable win over Malone. This was a real old fashioned encounter, played on soft turf on a cold, wet and grey December afternoon.
It was penalties kicks early on with both sides taking one apiece on 3 and 6 minutes, and Malone increasing the score to 6-3 with another one on 9 minutes. Old Wesley eventually got a good foothold in opposition territory after a penalty kick down the line. Some good carries ensued but a knock on allowed relief for Malone; or so it would appear. From the ensuing scrum the ball squirted out sideways where it was pounced on by a Wesley player. The ball was passed to James O’Donovan, who was only on the pitch as a substitute a few minutes, who broke a couple of weak tackle efforts to score under the posts. Rory Stynes converted to give Old Wesley a welcome but unlikely lead.
It was even stevens for most of the rest of the first half although the scrum was coming under increased pressure from the powerful opposition pack. Malone cut the lead to 10-9 with a penalty after 37 minutes and just before half time got one better to take the lead with a second penalty goal.
Going into the second half optimism amongst the small group of Old Wesley supporters was not great, particularly on foot of recent disappointing second half performances. However the players had different ideas.
Right from the off Wesley showed their greater determination taking the ball to the opposition on every opportunity. With play in the home team’s 22, a cross kick by Tom Kiersey nearly had Stynes in for a try, however he was denied by the dead ball line of a very short in goal area. The Northerners had escaped but Wesley continued to bombard their defence forcing penalties. Stynes had opportunities to regain the lead with penalty kicks on 55 and 62 minutes but was unusually off target. He eventually made good with a kick on 66 minutes to take a one point lead. At this stage the Wesley defence was nothing short of brilliant, refusing to allow the opposition to gain ground any time they had possession. Then Stynes kicked another penalty to take a four point lead.
Malone had one last chance to snatch victory with a line out in the Wesley 22, however the throw was crooked and Wesley closed out the match for a well deserved and hard fought victory.
There were many scars on the bodies of the Wesley players, however a win like this tends to dull the pain, and instead there were smiles on their faces as they adjourned for a well deserved shower. Next week it’s a local derby against old rivals St. Mary’ at home before the mid season break.
OLD WESLEY SCORERS – James O’Donovan, try; Rory Stynes – 1 conversion, 3 penalties