- Result: Galwegians Firsts 14 - Buccaneers 25
- Venue: Crowley Park on Fri Feb 3rd 2017
- Competition: AIL Division 1B
Galwegians suffered a frustrating defeat at the hands of their local rivals Buccaneers when a late Jordan Conroy try denied them a consolation losing bonus point in this game under lights at Crowley Park on Friday night. Despite showing huge improvement on their previous outing away to Shannon and benefiting from a barnstorming two-try start, 'Wegians were held scoreless in the second half and eventually fell to their second successive league defeat of 2017.
In damp underfoot conditions, Alan Gaughan's penalty saw Buccs nip in front after 7 minutes. And although dominating the early exchanges and territory, a thrilling breakaway try in the 12th minute put the Blues in front. A deft Aidan Moynihan chip inside his 22 was expertly fielded by captain Brian Murphy under pressure from the Buccs centres. The supporting winger Ed O’Keeffe then made an excellent break and showed great patience before finding rookie full-back Morgan Codyre who applied the finishing touches under the post.
Buccs continued to mount territorial pressure, but they were shell-shocked when Brian McClearn's men ended the first quarter with a 14-3 lead. Having cleverly worked their way upfield, out-half Moynihan brilliantly stepped inside the Buccs cover to score and add his second successful conversion of the evening.
The Pirates refused to panic however, with Shane Layden carrying more of a threat in midfield. Although Wegians centre Alan McMahon made a miraculous try-saving steal off Layden under the posts, moments later powerful 20-metre maul from the Buccs pack set up hooker John Sutton for a 27th-minute try which was well converted by Gaughan. Flying winger and Ireland Sevens international Conroy then got in on the scoring act, expertly gathering Gaughan's pinpoint cross-field kick at pace to dot down five minutes before the break. The conversion was missed but the league leaders were now ahead by the minimum.
With the aid of a slight wind advantage, 'Wegians came out of the traps after the restart and dominated the third quarter. They were completely on top but crucially they had nothing to show for a strong spell when camped in the Buccs 22, their forwards being held up before a knock-on saw them cough up hard-earned territory. Moynihan was also wide with a penalty attempt.
Despite losing Layden to the sin-bin, Buccs weathered the storm and then got their own back with a breakaway try on 65 minutes, Gaughan crossing the whitewash out wide when he made a blindside break around an attacking maul. Try as they might, Wegians were unable to make any further inroads. A late penalty was kicked to the corner for a 5m scrum, and although Marc Kelly made a clean line-out take to set up an attacking maul, the Blues were penalised for infringing and their chance was gone. Then to rub salt into the wounds, Buccs went upfield and patient build-up play was rewarded in the 79th minute when Conroy completed his brace in the corner, securing the bonus point for Brett Wilkinson's outfit and denying 'Wegians' one in the process.
The 25-14 scoreline was rather flattering for the visitors as there was little between these sieds on the evidence of their two recent encounters. However the reality is that this victory saw Buccaneers strengthen their grip on top spot in Division 1B, while the loss and other results sees Galwegians slump to second from bottom and they find themselves in a real relegation dogfight. The Blues badly need a win, and they now face two tricky away assignments in Ulster, starting with a trip to their old rivals Ballymena on Saturday where they will be seeking revenge for their last-minute loss against the Braidmen last October.