All Ireland League – Old Wesley 9 St. Mary’s 19
Old Wesley and St. Mary’s had not met in the All Ireland League in 19 years, but Old Wesley will have to wait a while longer for a first ever win in the competition over the Templeville Road side.
Playing with the wind in the first half Wesley spent most of the first quarter in opposition territory. And whilst they were unable to breach the goal line they did take a 9 nil lead through three Barry McLaughlin penalty goals. But as the game progressed St Marys started to turn the game in their favour using their physical pack led by their captain and tight head prop Robert Sweeney, and their mobile back line that included Leinster winger Darragh Fanning. With their forwards driving the Old Wesley pack backwards Mary’s looked to be over only to be denied a try by a knock on. However they were in a similar situation a few minutes later but this time they had they scrum. This proved too much for the Wesley defence and from the scrum the ball went to Darragh Fanning who had no difficulty in crossing for a try. Out half Sean Kearns converted to leave the score at 9-7 to Old Wesley before half time.
The hosts started the second half where they left off and now playing with the wind they continued to exert pressure in all areas. Wesley’s only advantage area was their line out as on at least two occasions they stole opposition line out ball when a score looked inevitable. But Wesley had a mammoth task facing them and it was clear that it would be only a matter of time before the opposition took the lead. This they did with a penalty goal 6 minutes into the second half. They extended their lead with two further penalty kicks, all by Sean Kearns to take a 16-9 lead going into the last quarter. The fear of the Old Wesley supporters was that the floodgates might open, but they withheld the storm and great credit must go the back row of Darren Horan, Rory Kerins and Mark Rowley for some fearless tackling. Clinging on to a 7 point deficit it was becoming clear that any further scores from Old Wesley were unlikely. As the game approached conclusion Wesley looked to have held on to a loser’s bonus point when Kearns missed a relatively straightforward penalty kick. A yellow card for St. Mary’s hooker Hugo Kean for cynical play spurred on the Wesley side as they tried their best to attack from deep. However in their desperation they conceded a late penalty and in the last play of the match Kearns converted the kick to leave the final score 19-9 to St Mary’s. On hindsight Wesley may have been better to cut their losses and accept the loser’s bonus point by trying to run down the clock.
Old Wesley will be disappointed with the result but will take some satisfaction in limiting a side that contained a number of provincial and representative players to just one try. The two sides will meet again in January when Old Wesley will have a second chance to claim that elusive AIL win.
Old Wesley team: Rory Stynes, Barry McLaughlin, Paul Harte, Ger Finucane, Billy Ngawini, Adam Kennedy, Ian Cassidy [Capt], Davy Henshaw, Craig Telford, Martin Gately, Josh Hinde, Iain McGann, Rory Kerins, Darren Horan, Mark Rowley,
Subs: David Rowley, Kenny Knaggs, Matthew Bursey, Alan Large, Billy Henshaw,
Old Wesley scorers: Barry McLaughlin, 3 pens.