All Ireland League - Division 2A - Old Wesley 37 Cashel 14: After a number of good performances earlier this season, even in defeat, Cashel went down to one of their worst defeats in a long time. Playing Old Wesley at their home ground in Donnybrook was never going to be easy and so it proved to be. Conditions were perfect with the sun shining and a perfect pitch that has hosted many great rugby matches over the years, particularly at schools level.
Wesley took control early and from the word go it was clear they were determined to reverse a defeat suffered last year to Cashel in a friendly game played at Spafield.
Their forwards were strong at the breakdown and the backs were running all over the place. The Cashel defence held out for 7 minutes but then cracked as a large gap appeared and Wesley waltzed in for a try under the posts which they converted.
To be fair to Cashel the game was played at a very high tempo and Cashel were competing but on 20 minutes the defence was split open again and Wesley had men to spare as they ran from their own half to score another 7 pointer.
Cashel responded and the forwards took control. They changed the tactic of trying to find mismatches in the center and worked as a pack.
Close to the Wesley line the ball was passed back to Brendan O’Connor and hitting it at speed he used his considerable size to barge over for a great forwards try.
This gave hope to Cashel but it was short lived as Wesley once again ran from inside their own half and scored another fine try. The high tempo continued and and once again Cashel responded. They carried the ball deep into Old Wesley territory. On 39 minutes they were awarded a scrum.
They pushed Wesley over the line and John Ed O’Connor touched down for a fine forwards to bring the score to 21 14 at half time.
This was not as bad as it could have been as the Wesley pack were excellent at the breakdown, Cashel were making many unforced errors and the defence was not functioning. There was hope that the second half would be better as this Cashel team is never beaten and their fitness levels are high.
Cashel took the game to Wesley early in the second half and Ed Leamy ran deep into their half but the support was not there and the ball was turned over.
Wesley continued to dominate the breakdown and they were lethal in attack as their speedy backs continued to run from all angles. on the 50th minute Cashel were awarded a kickable penalty which would have narrowed the gap to 4 points but they chose to take a quick tap and were turned over.
On the 55th, 60th and 67th minutes Cashel were penalised at the breakdown and each time Wesley converted to bring the score to 30 14.
The final blow came in the 78th minute when Wesley ran again through poor tackling and scored another try which they converted. To be fair to Cashel they did not give in and they finished the game on the attack but poor handling resulted in another turnover and the final whistle blew. Final score Old Wesley 37 Cashel 14.
This is the first time in many years Cashel have conceded 4 tries in a league match.
There were some positives to be taken from the game.
The Scrum was good, the lineout was good and there were good performances from Captain Ed Leamy, Brendan O’Connor, Giles Boland in the center and Andrew Kelleher when he came on in the second half. There is work to be done before next Saturdays match at Spafield against City of Derry. The forwards need to be more aggressive at ruck time and make it more difficult for the opposition to rob Cashel ball.
The defensive structure which has served us well over the past two seasons needs to be revisited and somebody needs to take control when kickable penalties are awarded and stop the crazy practice of taking quick taps, getting turned over, particularly when score is tight. There is time for this fine team to reverse the trend and move up the table.
They have not become a poor team but need to tighten up in a few areas and the wins will come. Cashel team:M Kelly, C O’Donnell, H Stanley, S Walsh, P Ryan, E Leamy, J E O’Connor, B O’Connor, M Hickey, C Quinlan, R O’Connor, A O’Donnell, G Boland, K Quinlan, P O’Connor, P Maher, D lambe, M cross, A Kelleher, R Mullane.