Firsts Go 3rd in Table With Exciting Win over Galwegians
All Ireland League – Old Wesley 35 Galwegians 25
On a beautiful autumnal Saturday afternoon in Donnybrook, Wesley prevailed eventually against an exciting Galwegians side in an excellent match , with the ball receiving plenty of airing. There was much excitement at the outset engendered by the news that 17 times capped Irish international, Richardt Strauss , was making his debut for Old Wesley . The international experience of Strauss was evident throughout his 50 minutes on the pitch but it was certainly not a waltz for Wesley in the first half as their lively opponents sought to run the ball at every opportunity.
Wesley started brightly and their early dominance was rewarded with a penalty by Barry McLaughlin after 4 minutes. Galwegians struck back on 8 minutes when winger Barry Lee finished off a sweeping back movement with an excellent try, after Wesley went for the intercept in vain. Conor Lowndes converted to make the scoreline – Old Wesley 3 :Galwegians 7. Soon after, ‘Wegians struck again when Rory Parata chased his chip through to win the touchdown after some hesitancy in the Wesley defence — 12-3 to Galwegians.
Wesley were dominant in the scrums, with the power and technique of Strauss very much in evidence, and this pressure duly delivered scores. Firstly, after a yellow card for a tip tackle from Wegians number 12 and captain Brian Murphy, a penalty by McLaughlin was followed by a great try by the same player, after a lovely movement, set up by great hands from Strauss and carried on by the ever combative Stephen Boyle, who passed to McLaughlin to score in the corner. Score 12-11 to Wegians. Scores were coming at breakneck pace and on 20 minutes, Wegians were next to score with a second try by Parata, 17-11 to Wegians.
Wesley were continuing to exert strong forward pressure but, having missed a few scoring opportunities, they were rocked on 30 minutes with a 4th try by the visitors , scored by winger Ed O’Keeffe after some loose defence. Soon after, Lowndes kicked a penalty to give Wegians an intimidating lead of 25-11 and, at this stage, despite a healthy share of the possession, the omens were worrying for the home side. But the fighting qualities of the Wesley side were apparent to all in the sizeable crowd and after a number of scrum penalties they finally breached the Wegians line right on the stroke of half time with a well-worked try finished off by scrum half, Ian Cassidy, playing his last game for the club before he departs for abroad, and hopefully he will not be away too long as he will be a big loss to the squad. McLaughlin concluded the breathless first half with the easy conversion – Half Time– Old Wesley 18; Galwegians 25.
Wesley started the second half and after much pressure, McLaughlin scored a penalty to narrow the margin further. Galwegians’ back line were always dangerous, but the Wesley defence had tightened considerably from the first half and some excellent tackling kept them at bay, with Alan Jeffares (who tackled well throughout) being particularly prominent. After 50 minutes, Strauss finished his excellent shift to the appreciative applause of the home fans, to be replaced by highly promising hooker, Conor Maguire, who went on to make a significant impact on the proceedings in the last half hour. On 54 minutes, Wesley were very unlucky not to score when, after an intercept by Ger Finucane, he transferred to Isaac Leota who ran strongly for the line, before a despairing tap tackle stopped him and he passed to McLaughlin, who was somehow kept out right on the line. On 57 minutes, a late tackle on McLaughlin resulted in a second yellow card for Murphy, which translated into a red card and Wegians were down to 14 men for the remainder of the match.
Wesley now went for the jugular and attacked Wegians in more close-in situations. Tim Clifford, who controlled the game well throughout, found an excellent touch and the pressure finally told when David Henshaw (just on for the excellent Kenny Knaggs) barged his way over, McLaughlin converted to give Old Wesley a 28-25 lead. On 60 minutes, Matthew Bursey replaced Boyle and again underlined his promise and potential . With Wesley keeping Wegians pinned in their own half, this pressure eventually resulted in the crucial winning score (on 70 minutes), when Leota intercepted and streaked over to touch down, to the jubilation of the homesters. McLaughlin inevitably added the points to make the final scoreline – Old Wesley 35 : Galwegians 25.
This was an excellent match , with both sides playing attractive rugby in wonderful conditions. Galwegians’ No.8 , Josh Pim (whose father, Alastair and uncle, Chris have strong Old Wesley connections) had a fine game for the visitors and appears to have a very promising career ahead.
Old Wesley Scorers: Tries: Barry McLaughlin, Ian Cassidy, David Henshaw, Isaac Leota; Cons: Barry McLaughlin 3; Pens: Barry McLaughlin 3
Team: Rory Stynes, Barry McLaughlin, Isaac Leota, Ger Finucane , Alan Jeffares, Tim Clifford , Ian Cassidy, Ken Knaggs, Richardt Strauss , James Burton , Michael Dunleavy, Iain McGann, Darren Horan (capt.), Stephen Boyle, Mark Rowley. Subs: Conor Maguire, David Henshaw, Matthew Bursey , Donnchadh Phelan, Conor Fitzgibbon .