- Result: Galwegians Firsts 53 - Shannon 12
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Dec 3rd 2016
- Competition: AIL Division 1B
Finally a win for Wegians… After a most frustrating sequence of six straight defeats, the Blues ended their losing run with a most emphatic record victory against their illustrious opponents Shannon at Crowley Park on Saturday.
The Limerick side came into this game minus several of their frontliners, and before kick-off they suffered another blow when flanker Jack Foley got injured in the pre-match warm-up. There were ominous signs early on for the visitors when the home side, playing in their away black strip, shoved Shannon off their first scrum which led to an early penalty from out-half Aidan Moynihan. Then in their first backline move, the hosts served notice of their intent on 9 minutes when in-form centre Cormac Brennan took a great line to cut through the Shannon midfield and score under the posts, with Moynihan tapping over the extras for a 10-0 lead.
In fairness the visitors soon settled and within five minutes they got back into the game with their opening try. A neat chip found pacey winger Greg O’Shea in acres of space and he gathered comfortably to score on the right, with out-half Conor Fitzgerald converting to reduce the gap to 10-7. However an offside from the restart gave Moynihan another penalty in front of the posts, which he landed to make it 13-7.
The second quarter was the best phase of the game for the visitors. Although Wegians looked the far likelier side, Shannon defended comfortably and had their share of territory. However they were unable to take the few opportunities which came their way, with Fitzgerald off target with two penalty attempts.
The game was effectively decided in the final five minutes of the half. When Shannon centre Jack O’Donnell was sin-binned following a mounting penalty count, from the resulting lineout a textbook maul saw no. 8 Josh Pim ground the ball over the line in the left-hand corner. Monihan missed the difficult conversion this time to leave it 18-7. And if that was hammer blow for the visitors, they suffered a double whammy on the stroke of halftime when Brennan intercepted a loose pass on halfway and he had the gas to make it to the line. Moynihan landed a superb touchline conversion this time to give the hosts a comfortable 25-7 lead at the interval.
Wegians have made a habit of throwing away big leads in recent matches, but their fears were allayed within a minute of the restart when a dazzling run by winger Ed O’Keeffe and a deft offload led to full-back Ciaran Gaffney scoring a try on his season debut. Moynihan landed another super conversion to put the Blues out of sight at 32-7.
The hosts went on to completely dominate the remainder of the contest, as the callow visitors struggled to keep up with the pace. They grimly held on until the hour mark when hooker Jordan Prenderville was binned for more persistent infringing. Inevitably it led to a fifth try for Wegians, this time Marc Kelly rounding off another well-worked maul. The visitors kept plugging away and when Wegians sub Pa Curran was also binned, they capitalised and were rewarded with a second try when Niall Mulcahy got on the end of a lineout as they mauled their way over the line.
However this was as good as it got for Shannon, as Wegians went on to own the remainder of the contest. Sub Jack Dinneen rounded off another powerful maul on 66 minutes as the hapless visitors were unable to cope with the power of the home pack. Then in the final minute Gaffney started and finished a move for his second try, collecting a delightful chip into space before trading passes with his captain Brian Murphy to dive over at the posts. Moynihan made it a great day from the boot by making it seven from eight to seal an impressive and badly-needed win.
This victory sees the Blues move up to seventh in the table, leapfrogging Cork sides Dolphin and UCC who both lost against Ballinahinch and UL Bohs respectively. This completes the first half of the season, and the Blues next game is also against Shannon, when both sides meet at the back pitch in Thomond Park on January 28th.