1st XV v Old Wesley (H) by D. O’Brien – 30.03.2024

St Mary’s College RFC V Old Wesley RFC

34                        29

Energia AIL Division 1B

Templeville Road.

30th March 2024


The sun shone benignly all morning, with the pitch seldom looking better (great credit due to Paul Pender and colleagues with the ground staff), only to sulk just before kick-off and allow a heavy shower, grease the grass. It is hard to dampen spirits at Templeville Road these days, especially with local rivals and friends, Old Wesley FC calling for lunch and then a touch of post prandial activity.  Therefore the lunch of well over 200, was socially scintillating, with President Bobby O’Connor entertaining Wesley’s President, Ronan Bools and his committee, in a febrile atmosphere of anticipation, joy and amicability. A certain Mr Nigel Osbourne made some apt observations, while almost every Old Wesley and St Marys personality, alickadoo or volunteer of note, was present (or so I am told).

In spite of having already secured promotion, it was clear from the pre-match warmup that Captain Ronan Watters and his cohorts, were going to treat their rivals with due respect, having a strong match day squad and determined preparation, for a thundering game.

Wesley being second on the table were very keen to ensure that they were in play-offs for promotion and with the best possible draw.

The final score shows it as a close hard fought game and that is what it was.  Fortunes swayed and swung all game and excitement and skill levels were high.  Early on in the game the handling was a little challenging after the heavy shower, but as the teams settled in it was compelling struggle and a fine spectacle.

Both sides produced some eye catching moments and Wesley as ever, were worthy opponents with a strong, fast rucking, team, well-structured and with two centres who created tries of high merit. The home team sparkled too, with a backline born of brilliance and to enrapture all. The talented pack, showed their skills and free-running style. The set pieces, the scrums and mauls were totally commanding and the lineouts with Daniel and Ian soaring above others, time and time again, give cause for confidence when in 1A.

Having fallen behind with only six minutes to go, it looked extremely testing for the home side However, Ronan does not do resignation, so he engineered a stunning riposte and at the exact time of need; he had one of his star comrades Mark Fogarty, at his side to collect the pass and bedazzle all, to score the winning try.  This meant that Ronan Watters’ team has won every home game this AIL campaign.  What is more, he has been fundamental to almost every one of those victories, as he was today.  He has a work rate like an apoplectic ant.  He is also a wise and decisive leader, who has his team with him at all times. A remarkable rugby and St Marys’ man.  He had to receive the SoftCo MoM Award.

The Scoring

After five minutes Marys went ahead with a well struck Mick O’Gara penalty, and five minutes later, a penalty driven to the corner was mauled. Composed and talented Jack Nelson-Murray dabbed down in the Gate Corner, 8-0.  However, shortly after the restart the kick off, Wesley ran the ball back and cut a gap down the middle to score close in, 8-7.

It was 16 minutes and a most impressively controlled maul, from just inside the Wesley 22, driven by Mighty Mick McCormack saw him touch down for an admirable try, close in. Mick O’Gara converted, 15-7.  31 minutes yet another penalty to the corner by Conor Hayes and a controlled maul, saw Jack tap down again and it was 20-7.

The visitors scored a really well worked try, by centre Cassidy at 37 minutes, and it was 20-14.

When almost half time and Marys were attacking, Deano threaded an outrageous grubber into Carvill Corner and who but Mark Fogarty beat all to the ball and it was 27-14.  Half time, and a bonus try was in the bag.

The second half arrived and was seven minutes old when Wesley scored an impressive try again and it was 27-21. And they scored again to make it 27-26.

Wesley went ahead with a penalty on 74 minutes, 27-29.

It looked pretty grim for the home side, but once again they showed that they are never beaten.  On the attack, a ball was recycled and Ronan burst through two tacklers, and made it into the 22.  He found Mark Fogarty, up outside his right shoulder and flicked it out, Mark put on the rip rockets, to beat the defence and go in behind at Cabbage Patch end. Mick added two. 34-29.

That was it, except for the massive Conglomeration (A collection of Rugby Heads). Milling around the back door and the terraces. Later, of course there was the celebration, and deserved it was.  There were hours of a most convivial melange of Wesley and Marys members and supporters.  .  We have 80 points going to Buccs at Athlone next week for the finale.  There is a wistful feel, that the swashbuckling voyage has almost reached the ultra-successful end.

You are still needed of course, so please make the effort to get to Athlone next Saturday.  Please. Remember, Come on Roar on Ronan

D O’Brien.

Team 15 C Hayes, 14 M Fogarty, 13 M Carey, 12 M O’Gara, 11 L Ramirez, 10 C Dean, 9 R Fahy, 8, C Pierce 7 R Watters (Capt.), 6 B Taylor, 5 I Wickham, 4 D Leane, 3 M McCormack, 2 Nelson-Murray, 1 T O’Reilly, 16 E Baxter, 17 C Stewart, 18 L Jack, 19 F Burke, 20 A McEvoy, 21 P Ford.