J5 XV v Wexford Wanderers (A) by Chris Kane 05.03.2016

St. Marys J5s v Wexford Wanderers:

March 5th saw the St. Marys J5 travel to Wexford for their last away game of the season at Wexford Wanderers. As the fives gathered at the clubhouse before the expedition south, there was a great deal of excitement in the air at the prospect of one final win on the road before the season finished. Once the awaiting coach was plastered with pictures of a fiery David Dixon and packed with enough beer to drown a small horse we were on route.

With some of the players partaking in a few beverages on the road, the J5s arrived in Wexford in high spirits to take on a Wanderers side determined to spoil the party for Marys and set up a relegation playoff between the two sides. Both teams started the match tentatively with much of the battle being fought through the forwards, big carries from the likes of James Casey and James McHugh opened up the game allowed Marys to pressure the home side consistently throughout the first half. Converting that pressure into points proved difficult for both teams in the first half with only a penalty, coming from the boot of Marys fullback James Walsh, separating the sides at half time, 3-0 to Marys.

The second half saw the game open up more in favour of Marys as the home team began to feel the pressure from the visitors they had kept at bay for so much of the first half. Continued pressure from the boot of James Walsh gave Marys a 6-0 lead within five minutes of the restart. The first of two Marys tries came by way of a joint effort between the backs and forwards with centres Owen Clery and Chris Kane crashing up the ball before flanker David Balfour went full “Beast Mode” bouncing through 5 or 6 tackles before offloading to the fullback Walsh to run it in for the try. Walsh kicked the conversion to give a scoreline of 13-0. Finding themselves nearly two converted tries down seemed to act as a wakeup call to Wanderers as they began to match the intensity brought by Marys. A quick reply was exactly what they were looking for and their scrum half delivered and kicked the subsequent conversion, the score now 13-7.

Marys looked to hit back immediately at the home side and looked as though they were on their way to. Another great team move with strong running from the likes of Hegarty and Gar setting up winger Dave Millard in the corner only for him to knock it on when attempting to ground the ball, Wanderers would clear their lines with the score remaining at 13-7.

Feeling a new found confidence in their kicking game, Wanderers decided to try and play for territory. Thinking he could see an opportunity on the far sideline, the Wexford fly half decided to attempt a cross field kick but for it to be collected by no other than Dave Millard. Now where exactly Millard collected the kick is a matter of some dispute as Dave claims to have collect the ball in his own 22 while everyone else present said he collected it near the home team’s 10 meter line, I guess we’ll never know. One thing that cannot be disputed is after collecting the kick, Millard broke down the sideline and knocked the ball on once again but this time the referee was feeling generous and awarded the try. Sinking the conversion gave Marys a 20-7 lead headed into the final 20 minutes.

Never to know when they are beaten the hosts continued to press for more scores and found the try line once more, landing the conversion made it a 20-14 game. Looking to respond, the J5s continued to press and their continued push was rewarded with another penalty, kicked through by James Walsh, the score now 23-14 with time running short. Not wanting to be beaten on their own turf Wanderers kept on pushing for another score to try and salvage something out of the game. A final try and missed conversion by the home side made for a tense ending but the J5s held on and secured the win in what has been a tough season. There is one final fixture at home for Marys with Terenure at home at a date yet to be confirmed.

Final score: St. Marys 23 – Wexford Wanderers 19

Chris Kane