Wesley push on in All Ireland league

by Gazette Reporter

Old Wesley recorded their 10th straight victory in Ulster Bank League Division 2B last weekend and are nine points clear at the top of the standings in what is becoming one of their most impressive seasons in recent memory

Playing at their highest level in years, the Donnybrook outfit have impressed, and two weeks ago recorded a 33-12 win over local rivals Blackrock, who they had not faced in the All Ireland League since 1997.

Last weekend, they faced a strong and defensively-minded Nenagh Ormond side, and he sides lined out in chilly and blustery conditions and a tough, close encounter ensued.

Nenagh were ahead by two unconverted tries to scores by Ian Cassidy who converted his own touchdown at half time after an attritional opening stanza.

High pressure on the visitors’ line in the second half led to them being reduced to 13 men with a pair of sin-binnings that allowed Wesley to reassert the lead with Mark Rowley picking and driving over the whitewash from a ruck.

With seven minutes on the clock, Ger Finucane put a converted try between the sides when he touched down.

Although Nenagh scored again with three minutes to go, they failed to tie up the scores when they missed their conversion and Wesley held on for another win in UBL Division 2B.

Speaking after the victory, Old Wesley’s director of rugby Neale Richmond reflected on how far the club have come in recent years.

“Wesley’s last appearance in the AIL was in 2000, after which the club went through a very tough period before securing promotion from Division 3 in 2009 to the new 2A/2B format.

“The results at a senior level have had a huge impact throughout the club with all five adult teams and the Under-20s challenging for the top spots in their respective leagues.

“With six games left in the season, things are going as hoped but every game will get tougher now as the lads have a target on their backs, we saw that just last weekend in a very tough game against Nenagh Ormond.”

Richmond also explained the impact that their supporters have had on the senior side’s success, particularly in their recent match against Blackrock.

“The match the other week was a throwback to those days when the AIL was the pinnacle of Irish domestic rugby, before the Heineken Cup really took off. To see such a big crowd at an AIL game was a real boost for the players.”

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