- Result: Galwegians Firsts 29 - Shannon 25
- Venue: Thomond Park on Sat Sep 20th 2014
- Competition: AIL Division 1B
Galwegians maintained their perfect start to their UBL Division 1b campaign with a second consecutive bonus point victory, this time away to the eight-time former League winners Shannon on the Thomond Park back-pitch on Saturday. However they were almost caught napping when a late surge by the hosts saw them come within a whisker of snatching the most unlikely of victories.
Played in perfect conditions, bBoth sides had early chances to score with penalties. Out-half Dave Clarke was off-target in second minute for Wegians, however his counterpart Tadhg Bennett put Shannon in front with a 5th minute penalty. Both sides were sounding each other out early on, each having their periods of dominance. Bennett missed an opportunity to double the lead when he dragged a 15th minute penalty wide of the posts. The Blues eventually began to assert themselves, and they served notice of their intentions when last season’s Division 2a Player of the Year Jerome Harrimate scored the opening try, which was converted by Clarke for a 7-3 lead.
Shannon tried to get back into the game and were threatening the line, but some good Wegians defence held them at bay. Arguably the turning point of the game came on the half-hour mark, when a loose pass was intercepted by the in-form Matt Dever, and the left-winger made the most of his opportunity to gallop home from inside his own half to score his second try of the UBL campaign. Clarke again added the extras, and suddenly the Blues were 14-3 clear and looking good. However Bennett added a second penalty just before the break to reduce the deficit to eight points.
Wegians made a great start to the second-half when they once more underlined their attacking potency with Harrimate claiming his second try of the game, which was unconverted for a 19-6 lead. This rattled the hosts who suddenly looked unable to cope with the Wegians attack. The Blues dominated the third quarter and went in search of the killer bonus point, and it duly arrived before the hour mark when centre Brian Murphy charged through to score try number four, with Clarke converting for a 26-6 lead.
Wegians were seemingly out of sight, but the game started to get messy and the visitors were soon reduced to fourteen men for the second time in the contest by referee Will O’Connor. Shannon took advantage and they finally managed to cross the whitewash with a 68th minute try by Ciaran Cunnane, their first of the season, which was converted by Bennett to peg it back to 26-13. Wegians responded well with a penalty by Clarke in the 72nd minute to give a sixteen-point cushion, and seemingly safe.
However there was to be some late unexpected drama as Wegians took their foot off the gas, and to their credit Shannon went in search of salvaging something from the contest. The hosts got over for their second try in the 77th minute, Rory O’Donnell claiming the touchdown following a clearance kick blockdown. Then another two late yellow cards meant Wegians had to finish with just thirteen men, and in stoppage time Conor Cunnane scored a third try for Shannon. This was converted by Bennett to reduce the margin to just four points, and incredibly it looked like a dramatic late snatch and grab was on the cards. But time ran out for the hosts and the Blues deservedly held on to claim the five points.
This win puts Matt Brown’s charges top of the League after two rounds, two points clear of the chasing pack. Their next match will be an intriguing early-season table-topper clash against another Limerick side UL Bohs, who lie in third place having also recorded two wins from two to date. Wegians clearly have potency in attack, but they will need to work on their defence and discipline to reduce their points-against column in their upcoming fixtures.
Replacements:-D Symes, B Lee, M Towey, R Moore, J Naughton