- Result: Galwegians Firsts 50 - Rainey OB 3
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Apr 12th 2014
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
Galwegians concluded a memorable season when they confirmed their absolute supremacy in Ulster Bank League Division 2a by recording a 14th consecutive League win in emphatic fashion at home to Ulster side Rainey Old Boys on Saturday.
Having secured promotion a month ago and the League title confirmed away to Bective all of three weeks ago, there was a carnival atmosphere in Glenina with a large crowd in expectant mood. And the Blues did not disappoint, producing eight tries in the process.
With their Co. Derry opponents safely in the mid-table safety zone, there was little at stake beyond pride, and a typical free-flowing end-of-season game of rugby ensued. However there was little sign early on of what was to come, as the visitors gave as good as they got in the opening quarter, and the Blues were getting on the wrong side of referee Will O’Connor in the early penalty count. Wegians seemed to take the lead on 25 minutes when a block down led to no. 8 Eoin Rooney crossing under the posts, only for the try to be disallowed following an intervention by the touch-judge, which led to the sin-binning of flanker Anthony Ryan.
However it was short respite for Rainey, and with the game still scoreless on the half-hour, the Blues finally got off the mark. Even with just seven men, the powerful Wegians pack did to the visitors what they have done to most sides all season by shunting them backwards from a 5 metre scrum, and this time Rooney was not to be denied by simply diving onto the ball over the line for the opening try. This owed much to the power of his front row who were giving their opponents a torrid time, especially prop Ja Naughton. And barely two minutes later the evergreen Naughton deservedly got on the scoresheet himself when he finished off a great burst by towering lock Dave Nolan to barrel his way over under the posts.
Out-half Ross Shaughnessy’s conversion made it 12-0, but the visitors did manage to open their account soon afterwards through a penalty from centre Stuart Simpson. However just on the stroke of half-time, Wegians confirmed their superiority when winger Jerome Harrimate gathered a loose ball at the base of a ruck, before breaking two tackles and pinning back his ears to race home for an excellent individual try, his sixth of the season to make him joint top try-scorer in the Division. Shaughnessy added a superb touchline conversion and the Blues were 19-3 to the good at the break.
In a game played in good spirit and free of niggle, referee O’Connor bizarrely showed Wegians a second yellow card in the 45th minute, this time Shaughnessy getting a ten minute rest. But it mattered little, as shortly afterwards Wegians confirmed the inevitable bonus point, their seventh at home in eight League fixtures. It came from full-back John Cleary who got on the end of a peach of a chip from centre Rory Parata to race home unopposed for the fourth try, joining Harrimate and Caolin Blade as joint top try-scorer in Division 2a.
At this stage the visitors lost heart completely. Wegians threatened to score with every attack, and truth be told they virtually did so. Back on the pitch a matter of seconds, Shaughnessy intercepted an attempted breakout on the Rainey 22 to race home for a fifth try. Soon afterwards sub scrum-half Barry Lee made a scything blindside break before feeding another sub, winger Matt Dever who dived over in the corner, with Shaughnessy adding another excellent convert for good measure.
Then in the final ten minutes it was exhibition stuff from Wegians. Parata managed to get in on the act by taking an inside scoring pass from Harrimate who had his pick of receivers to choose. And in the final act of the game, Shaughnessy skipped over for his second of the game, and his conversion brought his personal haul up to twenty points for the afternoon. And for the first time this season it brought up a half-ton for Wegians. This was a fitting finale in a season in which they celebrated 50 years at Glenina.
But for an early-season blip in their opening League game away to fellow promoted club Ballymena, Wegians have since then swept all before them, having the highest points-scoring total by far in Division 2a and also the meanest defence in the entire League.
Captain Brian McClearn was presented the League trophy immediately afterwards by former IRFU President and Galwegians Life Member Billy Glynn.
15. John Cleary; 14. Colin Conroy, 13. Rory Parata, 12. Brian Murphy, 11. Jerome Harrimate; 10. Ross Shaughnessy, 9. Caolin Blade; 1. Ja Naughton, 2. Conor Muldoon, 3. Jason East; 4.Dave Nolan, 5. Brian McClearn (capt.); 6. Anthony Ryan, 7. Eddie Earle, 8. Eoin Rooney.
Ross Fitzgerald, Doran McHugh, Jack Dinneen, Barry Lee, Matt Dever.