Old Wesley end 26 year Mary’s bogey
All Ireland League – Old Wesley 20 St. Mary’s 9
Having played them 8 times in the All Ireland League since 1992 Old Wesley eventually recorded their first ever AIL win against St. Mary’s at Donnybrook. This match was played in cold, wet and windy conditions, with horizontal rain the order of the day for much of the time.
St. Marys’ outhalf Conor Dean opened the scoring after just 3 minutes with a penalty goal, helped by the tail wind and the woodwork. He followed it up 10 minutes later with a 2nd penalty to take a 6-0 lead. Old Wesley were playing well, gaining territory when running the ball. However with the wind advantage the visitors were able to relieve pressure with long kicks as soon as they gained possession. 20 minutes into the match Wesley had a good foothold in the Marys’ 22 but an intercept allowed relief; indeed it could have been more costly but for Tom Kiersey’s cover tackle. Then Kiersey was on hand shortly after with a deft chip ahead which was neatly collected by Paul Harte. Harte made good ground before passing to James O’Donovan who used his height and physique to cross for the first try of the match. Rory Stynes converted to give Old Wesley a 7-6 lead.
Wesley continued to apply pressure but with the unfavourable playing conditions the ball did not always go to hand. Dean regained the lead after 34 minutes with a well struck penalty form 45 metres out. Then just on the stroke of half time Mary’s conceded a penalty for offside in front of a knock on, which Stynes knocked over from 25 metres to make it 10-9 to Old Wesley at half time.
Hopes were high for Old Wesley going into the second period, particularly after the previous week’s gallant performance. However against an experienced team like St. Mary’s nothing could be taken for granted. Right enough the Donnybrook side continued to apply pressure regularly taking possession into opposition territory. JJ O’Dea, Mark Rowley and Paul Derham, amongst others, were causing headaches for the Mary’s defence, regularly breaking tackles and stealing turnover possession. By contrast the opposition attacks lacked penetration. However no scores ensued; for either side. On 65 minutes Wesley had the first scoring opportunity of the second half, with a penalty 25 metres out in front of the posts, which Stynes converted with ease.
With the score at 13-9 a win for Old Wesley was by no means certain. There were some nervous moments as Mary’s kicked a penalty to touch for a line out just 8 metres out from the goal line. They applied big pressure however a knock on short of the line allowed Wesley to lift the siege. With 10 minutes left on the clock this was probably their last chance to claim victory. And when O’Dea won a turnover it led to Wesley regaining territory in the Mary’s 22. Now with renewed confidence the Wesley side peppered the Mary’s defence gaining ground with virtually every carry. The pressure eventually paid off with Paul Derham ploughing over for a try just on full time. Stynes, who kicked perfectly all afternoon, slotted the conversion before the referee blew for full time, for a well deserved win for Old Wesley.
Off the field there was much renewing of friendships and relating of old stories between the members of both South Dublin clubs, and for Old Wesley a highly positive result going into the mid season break. The two clubs will meet again in January for the return fixture and no doubt Wesley will be anxious to prove that this was not just a one off result.
OLD WESLEY SCORERS – James O’Donovan, try; Paul Derham, try; Rory Stynes – 2 penalties, 2 conversions
TEAM – Rory Stynes, Tommy O’Callaghan, James O’Donovan, David Poff, Paul Harte (captain), Tom Kiersey, Charlie O’Regan, Ciaran McHugh., Ben Burns, James Burton, Iain McGann, JJ O’Dea, Darren Horan, Josh Pim, Paul Derham.
REPLACEMENTS Andrew McCrann, Harry Noonan, Mark Rowley, Josh Miller, Conor Barry.