- Result: Galwegians Firsts 19 - Ballymena 5
- Venue: Eaton Park on Sat Oct 18th 2008
- Competition: AIL Division 1
Galwegians notched up a very impressive win on Saturday as they recorded their first ever away victory to Ballymena in the All-Ireland League, outscoring their hosts by three tries to one at Eaton Park. Having accounted for Dungannon at Crowley Park last week, this was their second successive AIB League win over Ulster opposition, and it ensured that they retained the Des Dempsey Memorial Cup for another year.
Wegians seemed up against it in the opening half as Ballymena dominated proceedings, but the home side made a number of costly errors at key moments to remain scoreless. Their bulky pack made some decent yardage gains, but they lacked any real invention behind the scrum and a well-marshalled Galwegians were able to cope with anything thrown at them out wide. The Blues then grabbed the opening score with a sucker punch before the break. Ballymena had been pressing on the visitors' line when winger John Cleary intercepted a pass and ran the full length of the pitch to touch down, with out-half Matt Brandon converting for a 7-0 half-time lead.
Wegians then had a slight wind advantage in the second-half, and they made the most of it with out-half Matt Brandon kept the hosts at arm's length with some strong kicking out of hand. Up front the pack were also beginning the turn the screw, once again led by their inspirational skipper Ivan Muldoon. And their hard work paid off early on when they struck a killer blow, with centre Chris Rodgers finishing off from close-range for a second try and a 12-0 lead.
This knocked the stuffing out of Ballymena, and Wegians continued to dominate proceedings. In the final quarter Cleary underlined his status as one of the top finishers in the country when he raced over for his second and Wegians’ third try, with full-back Robert O'Beirne slotting the conversion this time.
Ballymena’s only consolation was a late try for full-back Jamie Smith. But even at that, Wegians came in search of a bonus point and were close to the visitors’ line when referee Leo Colgan blew for full-time. Thus a second win from three outings moves the Blues up to seventh place in the AIB Division 1 table, two points clear of nearest rivals Buccaneers. Next up for Wegians is an intriguing home fixture this Saturday at Crowley Park against high-riding Old Belvedere who have won all three of their opening fixtures..