Senior XV Secure Crucial Win in Wexford Dogfight
Super start descends into grizzly dogfight...
On what seemed like it would be a miserable, cold damp day in the Sunny South East proved to be otherwise. With the rain holding off apart from some drizzle towards the latter end of the affair, the pitch remained in reasonably good condition, despite being soft – the complete opposite to how you would describe the 80 minutes of play that followed kick-off.
After the first 10 minutes you may have been forgiven for thinking this was going to be a very long day for the Wexford men with Tyson Doughy crossing the line after a sustained attack from Cill Dara within the first 2 minutes, including a cheeky pick through a ruck from club stalwart Billy O’Shea on his return to the club following a brief hiatus. Another coming in the 9th minute after a block down from Logan Nicholson which saw him recover the ball and run the length to dot down, both tries converted by the ever-accurate Peter O’Neill.
However, the men in blue consolidated their defence which kept Cill Dara out despite some big carries and big collisions until a crack developed which saw Cill Dara No. 8 JohnJoe McIlwrath crash over in the 31st minute to make it 17 – 0 to the Kildare men, staying that way after the conversion drifted just outside the posts.
Credit to Wanderers who didn’t drop their heads and worked a couple of phases off a lineout to get across for themselves, making it 17- 5 at 35 minutes with the conversion going wide.
Spurred on by their efforts, Wexford carried hard from the restart and put it to Cill Dara for a sustained period before handling error drew a close to the half, leaving it at 17 – 5 for the moment.
After the half, Cill Dara took to defending for a spell, eventually leading to a penalty for Wexford which was duly slotted, closing the gap to 17 – 8. Any thoughts of a whitewash now leaving the minds of Cill Dara as the sniff of a comeback was now on the horizon as another penalty for Wexford drew them closer at 17 – 11 around the 50-minute mark.
Wexford Town’s finest were now well in their purple patch, drawing confidence from sustained attacks on the Cill Dara line, not being disheartened by further massive collisions in the mid field, neither side wanting to give a yard. However, yards were conceded as several missed tackles fled to Wexford’s second try and the extras being added gave them to lead for the first time in the match at 18 – 17.
Things were beginning to look bleak for Cill Dara as the drizzle started and seemingly unable to bypass the Wexford defence from both handling errors and poor decision making. Cue some big carries from prop Danny Lambe and Billy O’Shea which managed to free some space out wide and after some slick hands to Mighty Okafor who beat 4 or five defenders to crash over for the bonus point try. Peter O’Neill again converting. 24 – 18 to Cill Dara with 10 minutes to go.
Much of the remainder of the match was camped within the Cill Dara 22 with a relentless onslaught from the Wexford men putting it to a stubborn defence. A series of penalties given away by the defenders saw multiple chances for Wexford to get a crucial score to win, however, the lads drew deep and showed a great deal of character to not concede, despite some dubious officiating.
Notable mentions are Barry Sully who revitalised the backline on making his entrance, Billy O’Shea on his return and Mighty Okafor not only for his try, but also his work on the fringes on his own line, making several crucial hits and aiding his tired forward pack.
Full Time: Cill Dara 24 – 18 Wexford Wanderers
Team: 1. Sinon Cahill 2. Aaron Kane 3. Danny Lambe 4. Joe Marks 5. Billy O’Shea 6. Colm O’Loughlin 7. Paudie Wall 8. JohnJoe McIlwrath
9. Peter O’Neill 10. Logan Nicholson 11. Mighty Okafor 12. Tyson Doughy 13. Kevin Mulpeter 14. Tommy Cleary 15. Jimmy O’Loughlin (C)
Replacements: DJ Brannock, Barry Sully, Darragh Kennedy, Paddy Ryan, Stephen Walsh