Cashel took on Old Wesley in round 12 of the All Ireland League on Saturday last at Spafield in good conditions.
Prior to the game Wesley were just below Cashel in the league table and had won at Donnybrook last season. Brendan O’Connor came back into the pack as his brother John Ed was being rested with a slight injury and Darren McGrath replaced the injured Kevin Leamy on the wing.
Wesley started well and had the better of the exchanges early on. They ran the ball at every opportunity but Cashel were up for the battle. Wesley drew first blood with a penalty after 7 minutes but Darragh O’Brien cancelled this out with a penalty 3 minutes later. After 10 minutes Brendan O’Connor had to leave the field and John Ed replaced him and made three important carries in as many minutes.
For some reason after 25 minutes the attitude of the referee began to go against Cashel and he began to penalise them at the breakdown. He awarded Wesley a penalty which they converted. Two minutes later he reversed a Cashel penalty and 3 minutes later he sin binned a Cashel player for holding on - a harsh decision one would have thought.
Cashel came roaring back and went on the attack but the Wesley defence was good. They were then reduced to 14 men following a high tackle on Conor Quinlan. On the stroke of half time Darragh O’Brien leveled the score with a penalty. Half Time score Cashel 6-all. It was a fair reflection of the first half.
The second half was eagerly anticipated and it turned out to be a rip roaring affair with both sides going head to head.
Wesley missed a penalty after a minute and 2 minutes later Cashel went on the attack and should have scored a try but a number of handling errors resulted in Wesley clearing their lines.
Both sides played some excellent rugby and play went from end to end. With 20 minutes left it was Cashel’s turn to defend. The ball was secured inside their 22 but the clearance did not find touch. It was caught by the Wesley full back who went on the attack from half way. A tackle was missed and suddenly they had an overlap and scored in the corner to go 11-6 ahead.
The high tempo continued but Cashel were dealt a huge blow with 13 minutes left as James Maxwell had to leave the field with a serious leg injury.
However they continued to press the Wesley defence. Deep in injury time Cashel were awarded a penalty which they kicked to touch.
From the lineout they mauled for the line and scored what everybody, except the referee, thought was a fine forwards try. The five yard scrum broke up and he blew the final whistle.
On such decisions the hopes and dreams of a team can be dashed.
It was not what Cashel deserved as they had put in a fine effort and deserved at least a draw.
Final Score: 11-6. A losing bonus point was the only consolation for Cashel.
Cashel: J Maxwell, N Fitzgerald, D Lambe, A Devitt, S Walsh, K Murphy, E Leamy, B O’Connor, A Barron, C Quinlan, D McGrath, C Unholtz, B Silke, D O’Brien, P O’Connor, I Stanley, J E O’Connor, A Kelleher, A McCormack, M Crosse, P ‘Connor, R Joyce.