- Result: Galwegians Firsts 20 - UCD 21
- Venue: Bellfield on Sat Jan 18th 2014
- Competition: Bateman Cup
- Match photos
- Match video
Galwegians lost their chance to secure a place in the final of the All-Ireland Bateman Cup when they suffered an agonising defeat at the hands of high-riding Division 1a side UCD at Belfied on Saturday.
Played in dismal conditions, handling proved very difficult for both sides and the game took a while to warm up. UCD opened the scoring with a penalty from James Thornton on 18 minutes, but this was soon cancelled out by Ross Shaughnessy who drew Wegians level on 23 minutes after being off target moments earlier. The opening try came for the hosts just on the half-hour mark when College scrum-half Jamie Glynn broke free from a well-worked maul and dived over on the left, with Thornton converting for a 10-3 lead.
However Wegians began to improve and regained their confidence, gaining the upper hand for the remainder of the half. Shaughnessy added a second penalty on 32 minutes to reduce the margin to four points, and shortly afterwards UCD lock Brian Cawley was binned which put the hosts under the cosh. The students defended well to hold their line under mounting pressure, until Wegians eventually made the extra man count in the last play of the half. It followed some excellent work and hands which sent winger Ronan Moore over in the corner. This put Wegians in the lead for the first time in the game, and Shaughnessy landed an excellent touchline conversion to give them a 13-10 cushion at the break.
Although playing against a slight breeze in the second-half, Wegians started brightly trying to open up the ball, but the wet conditions made handling extremely difficult. However the Blues had their chances but failed to take advantage any time they entered the UCD 22. Shaughnessy had a chance to stretch their lead on 53 minutes but his effort fell short into the breeze. In contrast the students were not so wasteful. The next score looked like being pivotal to the outcome, and so it proved. College regained the lead just before the hour mark when they worked their way up the right and some excellent play led to a try for winger Tom Fletcher.
Thornton was wide with the conversion leaving it 15-13, but this perked up the students who suddenly had the momentum and took control of the game. A second penalty from Thornton with 16 minutes to go put them five points clear, and Wegians were visibly tiring although trying gallantly to get back into the game. When they had to force the game, they coughed up yet more ball when on the attack, and a counter from the students led to another penalty which gave them a crucial 8-point lead with a few minutes remaining.
However credit the Blues who never gave up the fight, and they proceeded to lay siege to the UCD line. They were rewarded in the final minute when substitute hooker Conor Muldoon barrelled over for a second try, and an excellent conversion from winger Ciaran Gaffney reduced the margin to a single point. There was still time for one more play, but the visitors were confined to their own half and although the hosts conceded a penalty, the Blues had to run it. However the conditions made it virtually impossible to fashion a move, and the final whistle went to signal an agonising defeat for the Blues.
This ended an eight-game winning streak for Wegians, but they will take a lot of positives from this in the knowledge that they can compete at the highest level of club competition. Coach Cory Brown will now prepare his side for their next game, also against student opposition when they host UCC in Division 2a at Crowley Park on Saturday (2.30 k-o).