- Result: Galwegians Firsts 14 - Ballymena 25
- Venue: Eaton Park on Sat Nov 4th 2006
- Competition: AIL Division 1
The promise from the opening day success against Belfast Harlequins is beginning to evaporate for Galwegians as they suffered a third straight defeat in the AIL, this time away to Ballymena. And so the Northerners remain a hoodoo team for Wegians who have never beaten them in AIL competition. But the manner of defeat will have rankle with Galwegians coach Paul Young, as another possible opportunity to claim points went abegging due to a poor performance from his team. It was a disjointed effort from Wegians who never really got going, and too many basic errors denied them the opportunity to get a strong foothold in the game.
Despite playing with a wind advantage in the first-half, Galwegians suffered an early blow when flanker Matt Lacey took an early knock to the head and had to be substituted after 5 minutes. And although he was replaced by Derek Boyd, the lack of an out and out open-side was significant as the Blues were to cough up a lot of expensive turnover ball throughout the game. To compound matters, they soon found themselves behind when Ballymena scored a try in the 12th minute through their Ireland A prop Tom McCourt, which was converted by full-back Dirkie Strydom.
The visitors showed little sign of creating any real rhythm getting back into the game, and the home side stretched their lead when Strydom added a penalty. And when out-half Paul Campbell added a drop-goal on the half-hour mark, the Blues found themselves in deep trouble 13-0 in arrears. However they were given hope when a excellent backline move saw winger Conor McPhillips create an opportunity for full-back Dave Slemen who crossed for a great try, with Paddy O’Toole converting to reduce the margin to 13-7.
This was how it remained at the break, but signs of a Galwegians revival were short-lived as Strydom knocked over three second-half penalties to restore a commanding lead for the home side. McPhillips did give the Blues hope again by maintaining his try-a-game ratio when he crossed midway through the half, with O’Toole again converting. But despite the visitors displaying some flashes of brilliance in the backline, their inconsistency and error count came back to haunt them. And the home side had the last laugh as out-half Campbell dropped another goal to ensure that Wegians would go home empty-handed, and that the Des Dempsey Memorial Cup remains in Eaton Park for another year.
The AIL now takes a mini-break during the Autumn international series, so Wegians have a month to recharge their batteries and try to get their season back on track. Their next AIL assignment is a difficult trip to Dublin to take on Blackrock College, but at least Stradbrook has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for the Blues in recent years. They are well capable of producing a better and more consistent performance than this, and the Blues will certainly know that they have to up their game if they are to come away with anything from Blackrock.