- Result: Galwegians Firsts 14 - Ballymena 37
- Venue: Eaton Park on Sat Sep 28th 2013
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
Galwegians AIL campaign got off to a terrible start when they suffered a comprehensive defeat away to a rampant Ballymena at Eaton Park on Saturday.
Wegians came into this game unbeaten in Connacht this season, but their first AIL opponents of the season proved an altogether different proposition. Having been relegated last season from Division 1b, the former All Ireland champions Ballymena served immediate notice of their intentions when flanker Jordan Foster scored an opening try within two minutes. However Wegians got right back into it when a strong rolling maul created the platform, and a skip pass from centre Brian Murphy fed winger David Symes who dived over in the right-hand corner to level the game.
The game was fairly evenly contested early on, with Wegians holding the upper hand in the tight and Ballymena looking particularly threatening in the backline. But with perfect conditions suiting a free flowing game, the hosts regained the lead through a 9th minute penalty and their second try came at the end of the first quarter through prop Tim Small, which was converted for a 15-5 cushion. However Wegians strong pack was keeping them in touch as they continued to hold the upper hand in the scrums and were comfortable in the lineouts. Full-back Darragh Leader saw a 25th minute penalty rebound off the post, but a minute later he was on target to reduce the margin to 15-8.
The game was effectively decided with tries by the Ulstermen either side of half-time. Just before the break a sweeping backline move exposed the Blues defence and Callum Paterson crossed for a third try and a comfortable 20-8 lead. Leader reduced arrears with his second successful penalty shortly after the restart, but moments later the free-running Ballymena backline did the damage again, and their bonus try arrived courtesy of Bryan Young.
Although 25-11 down, Wegians were still very much in this game, and were given a fillip when their hosts were soon reduced to 14 men. Leader reduced the gap to eleven points with his third penalty, but the Blues were unable to inflict any further damage, and when flanker Eddie Earle was binned on 56 minutes their chance seemed gone.
Ballymena snuffed out any hope of a Wegians comeback with their fifth try just after the hour mark, and the second try of the game for the highly impressive open-side Foster. They were able to put some gloss on the scoreline with a sixth try by Connor Smyth just before the finish. And so the Ulstermen retained the Des Dempsey Memorial Cup and threw down a serious marker to any would-be challengers for the Division 2a title.
Wegians will have to dust themselves down and prepare to welcome another free-scoring side, early table-toppers Old Wesley to Crowley Park for their first home AIL game of the season this Saturday October 5th (2.30pm).