Leinster Conference A – Old Wesley 18 UCD 14
Played in sunny and mild conditions Old Wesley got their Leinster Conference campaign off to a positive start with a well deserved win over higher seeded UCD at Donnybrook.
Wesley had the first scoring opportunity of the afternoon when UCD conceded a penalty at the ruck on their 10 metre line. Ian Cassidy, back from abroad, had the length but pulled it left of the posts. Wesley were certainly not intimidated by the opposition and looked the better side in the opening quarter. There were some good carries and ground made with Cronan Gleeson getting to within 7 metres of the line at one stage.
The home side were in charge in the scrum forcing College to concede a penalty on a number of occasions during the match. The first came soon after the first quarter time water break, 25 metres out, however Cassidy was again off target. UCD got their first scoring opportunity with a scrum 20 metres from the Wesley goal line. However the Wesley defence stood firm eventually forcing a penalty. A turnover and some slick handling then allowed Wesley to take the ball 50 metres down the pitch, but a knock on allowed the opposition to relieve the pressure.
As half time approached Wesley had a penalty kick to touch 10 metres from the opposition line. They gained good line out possession but eventually lost the ball. Although the half time score of nil all might suggest a boring game, this was by contrast a highly entertaining one.
Early in the second half a break by new recruit Nathan Randles, with an eventual pass to Tom O’Callaghan, looked like a certain try but play was called back for a forward pass. Then a block down by Eoin Deegan had UCD again on the back foot eventually conceding a penalty inside their 22. This time Cassidy had no problem taking the points. Soon after Wesley were again attacking the UCD line and were awarded a penalty, 5 metres out. With their scrum dominance they opted for a scrum. It paid off with UCD in all kinds of difficulty and the referee awarded a penalty try. Wesley were now playing with flair and confidence and well deserved their lead.
However 17 minutes in UCD established a good position near the Wesley 22, and after a number of phases scored a try by Andy Marks. With the conversion it was 10-7. College continued their attack but a turnover eventually led to a penalty 25 metres out. This time it was substitute Ben Murphy who did the honours.
UCD continued to attack. A speculative kick was well fielded and a huge clearance kick by Murphy relieved the pressure. This led to continued strong running by Wesley and some skilful handling saw James O’Donovan with space on the wing to sprint in untouched for a try in the corner. Soon after, Wesley looked to be set up for another try with a 5 metre scrum. But this time UCD found extra energy to force a penalty. UCD now had the initiative and after a penalty for a high tackle had a line out inside the Wesley 22. Then a yellow card for a deliberate knock on by O’Callaghan boosted their chances. And sure enough the try came, this time by Bobby Leahy. But the clock was now in the red and even with the conversion Old Wesley had held on for the win.
This was a well deserved win and a pity that spectators were not allowed to attend.
Old Wesley Scorers – James O’Donovan, try; penalty try, Ian Cassidy, pen; Ben Murphy, pen.
Team – Tom Kiersey, Thomas O’Callaghan, Eoin Deegan, James O’Donovan, Nathan Randles, Paddy McKenzie, Ian Cassidy, Harry Noonan, Ben Burns, Cronan Gleeson, Donnchadh Phelan, Iain McGann, Alastair Hoban, Luke Thompson, Josh Pim. Subs – Sam Kenny, Sam Illo, Sam Pim, Brendan Monahan, Michael Clune, Ben Murphy.