- Result: Galwegians Firsts 16 - Cork Constitution 26
- Venue: Temple Hill on Sat Apr 16th 2016
- Competition: AIL Division 1A
Galwegians suffered an agonising last-gasp defeat away to Cork Con in their final League game of the season which resulted in automatic relegation in the unlikeliest fashion. It was hard to take for the Blues who for long periods dominated the current form team in the top Division, only to self-implode and concede a last-gasp score to seal their fate.
Wegians needed a losing bonus point to avoid the automatic drop, and they started very brightly against their illustrious opponents who were looking to secure a home semi-final play-off. Playing with the aid of a breeze, early pressure from the Blues led to two penalties at the breakdown, which out-half Aidan Moynihan struck well to give them an early 6-0 lead in the first fifteen minutes.
Having been on the back foot for the entire first quarter, the hosts eventually got into the game, and their dangerous attacking play finally yielded the first try through captain James Ryan who squeezed over on the left corner to finish in impressive style, reducing the gap to a solitary point. However Wegians resumed where they left off, and another Moynihan penalty put them four points to the good. However the Macroom native was to miss two other very kickable penalties before the break, which ultimately proved very costly for the Blues.
In the second-half Con started with intent, using the elements to set up field position. They took the lead for the first time on 50 minutes when hooker Max Abbott rounded off a period of sustained pressure to dot down for their second try on the right, which was converted by Tomas Quinlan for a 12-9 lead. Things looked ominous now for the Blues, but instead of folding, they showed admirable character to get back into the game and regain the lead just coming up to the hour mark. It came from an excellent try by centre Cormac Brennan who swerved and evaded several attempted tackles to cross for his side’s only try. Moynihan converted from under the posts to restore a four-point advantage.
This signalled an inevitable onslaught from the hosts, and when Wegians’ no. 8 Anthony Ryan was binned shortly afterwards, they were seriously under the cosh. Yet some typical dogged defence and resistance from the Blues saw them hold out. However Cork Con are never beaten, and they kept knocking on the door, finally sucking in the cover to allow their in-form winger Aaron Spring to cross on the right for their third try. Quinlan converted for a four-point lead once again.
At this stage word had filtered through of bottom team Ballynahinch’s runaway winning margin against an inept and disinterested Garryowen, which meant Wegians had to hold on for the losing bonus point. In what seemed an eternity for the closing minutes, the Blues were managing to do just that, playing down the clock in opposition territory for the most part. However Con were equally desperate for a bonus point of their own in their attempt to secure a home semi-final play-off.
Just when it looked like the Blues had withstood one final attacking flurry, an act of hari kari cost them in the very last passage of play, when a needless midfield pass on halfway was intercepted by Con centre Niall Kenneally who galloped over under the posts for his side’s bonus point try. It was desperately cruel luck on Wegians, who proved themselves very competitive all season having beaten two of the top three sides in the League and last year's champions. However their failure to close out games at the highest level was to cost them dearly, especially in the second-half of this campaign. Which all means that next season they must ply their trade in Division 1b and renew acquaintances with some old foes from last year.
John Cleary; Ed O’Keeffe, Cormac Brennan, Api Pewhairangi, Adam Leavy; Aidan Moynihan, Barry Lee; Ja Naughton (captain), Juan Anaya, Jason East; Marty Cummins, Dave Nolan; Marc Kelly, Josh Pim, Anthony Ryan.
Subs: Patrick Curran, Conor Kyne, Matthew Towey, Rory Parata, Alan McMahon.