Wexford Wanderers Under-17’s sealed the Leinster League Division 1 Final in Portlaoise last weekend when they edged out the challenge of Longford 15-8…

It had everything; intense passion, nerves, huge hits, fast flowing back moves, ferocious rucking and mauling, crunching tackles, suberb catching, total commitment, bodies being put on the line for the cause, opertunistic tries, precise kicking, loads of added time and then the sweet sound of the final whistle, the silver was coming back to Wexford.

Straight from the kick-off Wexford took the game to Longford, some hard yards were gained by carrying the ball, asking questions of the Longford defense. They tackled and tackled again because they had to. Stephen Dwyer, Johnny Craiciun, Michael Maguire drove at them. The back row were constantly on their shoulders to drive over and recycle, Carthaigh Geoghegan, Dan French and Mark Takacs were winning the breakdown and when the moment was right Dylan Joyce-Ahearne unleashed the backline.

Stephen Scallan back from a long lay off with injury was on fire, he ran complicated lines and opened up the defense. Craig Wright was outstanding at full-back returning kicks again by running at the heart of the Longford defence.

Following a run down the touchline by Darragh Kehoe, the Wexord forwards got a sniff of the try line and after a couple of attempts Mark Takacs reached over for a deserving try. Jack O’Connor was on target with the difficult conversion and Wanderers now had points on the board.

Confidence was up and from the restart Johnny gathered and headed back for the try line. With a stampede behind him he was grounded short of the line. With the ball recycled, scrum half Dylan Joyce-Ahearne wriggled his way over to extend the Wexford lead much to the delight of the Wexford followers. 12-0 and looking good.

Aproaching half-time Longford made one of their few visits to the Wexford half and after moving the ball through the hands were fortunate to get the touchdown in the corner. 12-5 at the interval.

The second half was a real see saw affair with both teams giving it their all. At one stage Wexford were pinned to their line and but for a timely interception by Jack O’Connor, the score line would have been altered. Another Lomgford move was abruptly stopped when Ciaran Kavanagh nearly broke a body in two, with one of his bone shuddering hits.

Wanderers were inspired and were soon back at the other end of the pitch. A penalty awarded for off side was struck with precision by Jack O’Connor and once again Wexford had the upper hand.

Fresh legs were added with Dylan Lawlor, Mariuz Kraska, Patryk Zaborsynski and James Roche being added to the fray. Wexford were tactically on the ball and some clever kicking kept them at the right end of the field. The added time seemed to go on forever but the sweet sound of the final whistle was greeting by a massive overflow of emotion as players, coaches and supporters shared the victory in the middle of the field.

This win is just another reminder that Wexford rugby is on an upward curve and all who play and are involved in Wexford Wanderers RFC can be extremely proud of that.

On recieving the trophy, captain Stephen Dwyer thanked the coaches, Fintan, Bobby, Colm, Mark and John for the huge effort in preparing this teams since last September. Hard work has its rewards.

WEXFORD WANDERERS: Ciaran Kavanagh, Carl Walsh, Michael Maguire, Johnny Craiciun, Dan French, Stephen Dwyer, Carthaigh Geoghegan, Mark Takacs, Dylan Joyce-Ahearne, Jack O’Connor, Colm O’Corcora, Jordan Ryan, Darragh Keogh, Craig Wright

REPLACEMENTS: Dylan Lawlor, Mariuz Kraska, James Roche, Patryk Zarobsynski, Dean Kehoe, Niall Scallon, Robbie Edwards, Liam Hartigan, Michael McQuillan, Conor Goff