Wesley’s AIL six of the best

by Gazette Reporter
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AIL Division 1B
Shannon 20
Old Wesley 24

OLD WESLEY continued their stunning start to the AIL Division 1B season with a sixth successive win, raiding Limerick to beat Shannon.

They did so despite a prematch setback when experienced flanker Stephen Boyle was forced to withdraw from the starting 15 with a wrist injury suffered in the warm-up.

But Wesley showed their intent from the outset, JJ O’Dea winning a turnover in minute one and they took the lead in the sixth minute. Shannon failed to find touch with a clearance kick, allowing Ed O’Keeffe to set off on a scything run, bringing play from 40 metres out to the opposition 5 metre line.

Following a couple of quick recycles, Paul Derham powered over for the first try; Rory Stynes converted for a 7-0 lead.

Shannon responded in kind, flexing their forward muscles for the first time, forcing a penalty which Billy Grey pushed wide. They also crossed the line only for the try to be chalked off for a double movement.

Then, after 17 minutes, Shannon surprisingly ran a penalty in front of the posts. The gamble paid off when the home pack mauled over the line for Kelvin Brown to score.

Grey also kicked a short range penalty goal to give Shannon the lead for the first and only time in the match. Soon after, Stynes returned the compliment, regaining the lead for Old Wesley.

Wesley were dealt a blow when Ed O’Keeffe was shown yellow for a dangerous tackle but they made light of the numbers deficit when Burns made another fine carry, bringing play agonisingly close to the line.

Just on half time, Shannon lost a line out, and Burns was on hand again with a fine run. This time, however, from quick recycled play, the ball went out the back line.

A perfect pass by James O’Donovan found Tommy O’Callaghan in open space for him to cross with relative ease for a try out wide and a 15-8 half-time lead.

Wes started the second half where they left off with O’Donovan deemed to be held up from the first play. A Stynes’ penalty extended the lead from close-in and he then showed his range with one from close to half-way for another three points onto the total.

As expected, Shannon fought back instantly when Wesley failed to collect from kick-off with Thomas Ahern running a try virtually untouched, signalling a larger roar of approval from the partisan crowd.

This sharpened the Shannon spirit, but ended after conceding a penalty for offside, and Stynes, from a similar position to his previous kick, was bang on target once again with the huge kick.

A jersey pull by Shannon’s Ben Daly earned him a yellow card, restricting their options going into the last 20 minutes as the light started to fade. Wesley winger Richard Walsh did find himself in the clear and he got to within 10 metres of the goal line however a penalty relieved the pressure for Shannon.

It left Shannon in range of nicking a losing bonus point which they were able to grab as Stynes spent time on a yellow-card with Ikem Uguwueru profiting to score in the corner and Grey landed the conversion with the final whistle.

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