- Result: Galwegians Firsts 9 - Clontarf 16
- Venue: Castle Avenue on Sat Nov 7th 2015
- Competition: AIL Division 1A
Galwegians gained a hard-earned bonus point away to Clontarf with a gutsy performance at Castle Avenue on Saturday.
Having come away empty-handed from their opening three away games, and on the back of two abject performances in their last two outings against Garryowen and UCD, the Blues were given little chance of coming away with anything when up against the League leaders and last year’s beaten finalists. And despite featuring a much depleted side, Matt Brown’s side matched their hosts for much of this contest and were disappointed not to come away with at least a draw.
After a fairly even opening, the hosts took the lead in the tenth minute when referee Leo Colgan penalised the Wegians front-row in the first scrum of the contest. Tarf full-back Rob Keogh duly took advantage when he stepped up to split the posts for a 3-0 lead. The hosts went on to dominate the next period and following a concerted period of pressure on the Wegians line, they were awarded two penalties in quick succession, only for Keogh to hit the woodwork on both occasions.
Playing into a first-half breeze, the Blues were unable to break out of their own half and lift the siege. They paid for it as the hosts made the breakthrough for the only try of the game on 27 minutes when centre and top try-scorer Matt D’arcy saw a half-gap and fended off two tackles to burst through and touch down near the right corner. Keogh then found his range again to stretch the lead to 10-0.
Wegians soon opened their account when good work from their chasing pack straight from the restart yielded a first chance at goal, and out-half Aidan Moynihan split the posts to reduce the margin to seven. However the hosts restored their ten point margin when further dominance and territory led to another penalty which Keogh duly slotted. Tarf were looking to add to their lead, but some dogged determined defence from Wegians kept them at bay for the remainder of the half.
In the proverbial game of two halves, Wegians were a much different proposition after the restart, really taking the game to their much fancied opponents. A fine forward surge by flanker Marc Kelly near the 22 soon led to a penalty which Moynihan slotted to bridge the gap again to seven points, although the Macroom native was off target from a similar position minutes later.
With reinforcements in the shape of forwards Doron McHugh and returning lock Dave Nolan, Wegians were now turning the screw. Debutant winger Alan McMahon missed a glorious chance to score when he slipped on the plastic turf with the line at his mercy, however Moynihan soon landed his third penalty to make it a four-point game.
The rattled hosts then brought on experienced campaigners Sam Cronin and Evan Ryan into the fray. The two backs certainly provided a different spark to the home side's play, and in what was their only meaningful attack of the second-half, a close range penalty from Keogh in the 64th minute put some further daylight between the teams again.
Wegians were well on top however and they regained the initiative. The ever–threatening full-back John Cleary made a strong break into the 'Tarf half which gave Moynihan another chance at the posts, but the youngster was narrowly wide with his effort. Replacement prop Doron McHugh also went close but was penalised for not releasing, when a pass inside to hooker Jack Dinneen would surely have resulted in a certain score under the posts. However it was a tale of ifs, buts and maybes as the Blues applied considerable pressure in the closing minutes, but were unable to breach the well-organised defence who held out for a hard-fought win.
Wegians coaches Matt Brown and John Muldoon will take much heart from this performance, as the confidence and self-belief was very much restored in their side.
Despite their lowly position second from bottom in the table, they know they have nothing to fear, having already seen off last year’s champions Lansdowne and now having given as good as they got against current table-toppers and last year’s beaten finalists. Next up for the Blues is a vital home game against bottom-placed Ballynahinch on Saturday November 28th.