All Ireland League – Old Wesley 22 St. Mary’s 15
Old Wesley completed their home campaign of the regular season with a hard-earned victory over lively visitors, St Mary ‘s College, who were still in contention for a top 4 finish. In truth, Wesley had to battle very hard and it was only in the last quarter that they reeled in and overtook the visitors, who held a deserved 15-7 lead at half time.
Wesley had a dream start with prop, Cronan Gleeson, crashing over for a try, with out-half, Ian Cassidy, adding the points. On 7 minutes, St Mary’s hit back with a well worked chip ahead, which resulted in winger, Matt Timmons, grounding beside the posts, for neat out half, Conor Dean, to convert and level the scores at 7-7. Both sides sought to attack at every opportunity in a very entertaining encounter; albeit handling errors stymied many of the movements. On 15 minutes, St Mary’s took the lead with a well struck penalty from Dean.
The scrums were well-contested, with each team conceding a penalty, as they fought for superiority in this key area. Worryingly for the home side, on 21 minutes, St Mary’s finished off a sweeping back movement with an excellent try by full back, Hugo Conway, to extend their lead to 15-7, with Dean failing to add the points.
On 30 minutes, Alex Molloy, the multi-talented Wesley full back, made a trademark run up the middle, which spread-eagled the Mary’s defence, but, unfortunately, the final pass to Charlie O’Regan, in support, failed to go to hand. Wesley pressed hard for a score before half time but a lost line out in a promising position thwarted them. Just on the break, winger, Tommy O’Callaghan, who was busy throughout, made a superb run which narrowly failed to deliver a score and referee, Kieran Barry, blew the half time whistle with St Mary’s still leading by 15-7.
Wesley started the second half, clearly intent on wiping out the deficit, but spirited tackling and defence from the visitors kept them at bay until, finally, on 62 minutes, the toll of all those tackles finally took effect and Wesley No.8, Reuben Pim crossed for an excellent try after quick thinking by Cassidy and O’Callaghan; and with Cassidy adding the points, the margin was reduced to 15-14. The next score was now going to be vital, and with the Wesley forward power now beginning to tell, an all-important penalty was earned on 75 minutes which Cassidy duly knocked over from in front of the posts, to nudge Wesley into a 17-15 lead.
The last few minutes were very tense, with Mary’s striving for field position to possibly extract the concession of a match winning penalty. However, Wesley held firm and, when they regained possession, to their credit they continued to run the ball and O’Callaghan got the try his general play richly deserved, with a beautiful chip which he gathered himself, to crash over in the corner for a spectacular finale to wrap up the match on a final scoreline of 22-15, with the visitors picking up a deserved losing bonus point.
Ultimately, the forward power of the entire Wesley pack was critical in delivering the comeback, with, in particular, Will Fay, Josh Pim and JJ O’Dea always showing for the ball and making inroads.
With the home semi-final already secured, next up is Shannon away Saturday 9th and the results of the final round of regular matches next weekend will determine whether we play Naas or St Mary’s in the semi-final on Saturday 23rd April.
Old Wesley Scorers: Tries: Cronan Gleeson, Reuben Pim, Tommy O’Callaghan; Cons: Ian Cassidy (2), Pen: Ian Cassidy
Old Wesley Team: – Alex Molloy, Thomas O’Callaghan, James O’Donovan , Eoin Deegan, David Poff, Ian Cassidy, Charlie O’Regan , Harry Noonan, Ben Burns, Cronan Gleeson, JJ O’Dea, Iain McGann (c) , Will Fay, Josh Pim , Reuben Pim. REPLACEMENTS – Robert Byrne, Sam Kenny, Jacob Barrett, Alastair Hoban, Paddy McKenzie, Brendan Monaghan.
Click here for photos by Ken Richardson
Game In 5 – Match Video: