Metro League – Division 5
Old Wesley RFC 0 – 24 Lansdowne FC
The coaching and management dream team of Mark Quinn, Shane Dalton and James Caslin may have looked confident as acting captain Luc Van Cauelwart led their league topping team out onto the Old Wesley and Bective back pitch, but head coach and guru, Dave Tunney looked confident and resplendent in his new LFC 150 manager’s kit!
The management team and the good crop of supporters from other junior teams on the sideline needed all the kit they could get as the wind blew hard and cold from the south, strongly favoring Lansdowne in the first half. Indeed, it took golden boot outhalf Danny Hogan a few kicks over the dead ball to get the measure of just how strong that wind was, but like the classy footballer (and indeed cocktail maker) he is, he did get that measure just right as he slotted over his first long range penalty inside the first 10 minutes. 0 – 3
Old Wesley were clearly full of good players, but their shape and discipline was starting to betray them even in the early stages. They struggled to handle the wind and took their frustrations out first on each other, then, unwisely on the ref. Lansdowne by contrast used the weather to keep them inside their 22 most of the time and stayed uncharacteristically quiet as the hosts bickered with the official. Soon our territorial (and moral) advantage paid dividends and scrum half/winger and today centre, Michael Mulligan completed a series of phases with a try on the 25 minute mark. Danny sealed it with a conversion.
With ten minutes to go in the first half, it was clear that we would need a bigger buffer for round two, especially as the wind seemed to be picking up, so we were blessed that “Hogey” managed the windy conditions with such gusto (sorry!). Whenever Wesley clawed their way out of their half and aided by excellent service from his scrum half Conor Cleary, Danny would calmly ping them back behind their 22, confident in his jumpers Shane Kennedy and Michael Whelan who were ruthlessly competitive on ours and their throws. The hosts’ frustrations now became a factor too, as they conceded one, two and then three penalties from within kicking distance in the last 15 minutes of the first half. Dead-eyed Danny made short work of the first two, bringing us up to 0 – 16, but even the most confident of sideline pundits thought he might be pushing his luck when he opted to kick from just on the half way. Not a bother to the man … 0 – 19 as the half time whistle blew.
The break came as a welcome rest and there was little doubt that we would need it, facing the rising gale in the second half. As well as the wind, Old Wesley also returned to the game with renewed energy and purpose when play resumed. For the next 30 minutes, this formidable Lansdowne side had to withstand attack after attack, never losing their composure or resolve. Special mention to octogenarian Cathal McNamara who didn’t just survive the long periods of grinding defence, but on two occasions stole the ball and stampeded down the pitch, regaining precious territory and confidence for his team when it was most needed.
As injury time approached and Wesley had seen no return on their massive investment of effort for the entire second half, their discipline let them down again and the ref let them know it with repeated penalties and a yellow card. Where some sides might have let their foot off the pedal (or the opposition’s throats), our resolve didn’t flinch an inch and we became more steely still. We continued to attack and in the end it was Shane Kennedy that made the final crucial yards to go over and put the final nail in Wesley’s coffin. Full time whistle blew with the score at Old Wesley 0 – 24 Lansdowne. Not only did we keep a clean sheet in the second half but we actually stretched our lead.
Special mention to another pensioner that never stopped fighting, Luis Castro, who was one of only two forwards to play the full 80 minutes. We give thanks and praise also to Jack “I just had two pints” Coughlan, who manfully recovered from an unfortunate bout of indigestion in the first half to make a great contribution in the second. And what match report would be complete without mention of the evergreen Ludo (Ludovic Amblard) who added immense energy and his usual panache when he joined the frey.
Another great performance and well-deserved victory to carry on this group’s 100% hit rate so far. And looking so good while they did it!
Match Report – Brian Whelan