- Result: Galwegians Firsts 6 - Blackrock 15
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Oct 15th 2005
- Competition: AIL Division 1
Galwegians got their AIL Division 1 campaign off to a very disappointing start when they came away empty-handed from their encounter with Blackrock in Crowley Park on Saturday.
A new–look Wegians team started with intent and the early signs were encouraging as they were clearly dominating the set-pieces. In the scrums they had a clear ascendancy, with young Welsh tight-head prop Ross Davies giving his opposite number a torrid time, and locks Derek Boyd and Liam Scahill dominating the line-outs. Wegians nearly scored a try on 10 minutes following an excellent break by new scrum-half Peter Phelan, but his pass to hooker Conor Muldoon was judged forward with the line at his mercy. However they soon opened the scoring through a penalty in front of the posts by full-back John Cleary.
The visitors then got into their stride and their forwards soon settled, with one ominous 40 metre rumble forward giving a clear warning sign to Wegians. But more pressure from Wegians forced another offside which gave Cleary an opportunity to double the advantage with another simple penalty on 26 minutes. However this was as good as it got for the hosts. Almost from the restart Blackrock went on the assault, and they when they forced a lineout near the 22, an excellent move and quick hands in the backline resulted in winger Stephen Baker diving over in the right corner for the opening try. Connemara native Paddy O’Toole was wide with the difficult convert, but the visitors were now causing trouble for Wegians who were not making use of the elements in their favour.
O’Toole then put Rock in front just before the interval with a penalty, after spurning a similar opportunity moments earlier, and so the visitors took an 8-6 lead into the break. Wegians then came out of the traps early in the second half, and the impressive Conor Muldoon almost got in on 45 minutes but was held up short of the line. However it was a triple whammy, as he not only failed to score, but he was also harshly penalised for not releasing, and then carried off with an injury. Despite his relative youth, his bulky presence was certainly missed by the home side.
The Rock half-backs, ex- Galwegians Mick Roche and Paddy O’Toole, then took control of affairs as they linked well with their forwards and outside backs, with O’Toole using the boot to great effect on several occasions. In contrast Wegians’ promising half-backs Peter Phelan and Peter Durkin showed their inexperience at times, and their confidence appeared to suffer the more the game they wore on. The experience should stand to them, and they will certainly have better days in this competition.
Wegians’ cause was not helped either by the sin-binning of centre John Culkin for deliberate infringement soon after Muldoon’s departure. Then the clinching score came on 61 minutes when Rock broke out of their own half in spectacular fashion. While the initial turnover looked like a blatant case of coming in from the side, not the first nor last bizarre refereeing decision of the day it must be said, the visitors made the most of their good fortune, with some excellent linking between winger Antonio Pinto and full-back Alan Henry sending in flanker Diarmitt Laffin for a second try under posts, which was converted by O’Toole.
Unfortunately the home side never looked like breaching the Rock rearguard, and the visitors clearly had the ascendancy in the backline, with only Wegians full-back John Cleary looking like he could cause any serious threat. But it never came to pass, and the last act of the game was a long-range penalty attempt by Cleary into the stiff breeze, but it drifted wide to sum up a disappointing day for the Blues. Next week a trip to champions Shannon awaits, and everyone knows a major improvement is needed for this one.