- Result: Galwegians Firsts 9 - Shannon 18
- Venue: Dangan on Sat Jan 24th 2009
- Competition: AIL Division 1
Galwegians proved luckless yet again in their search for a home win against Division 1 record title-holders Shannon in a game played at the UCG pitch at Dangan due to an unplayable Crowley Park on Saturday.
Wegians have pushed Shannon close in recent seasons without getting any reward and it was a case of more of the same on Saturday, when they were decidedly unfortunate not to get at least a bonus point.
Wegians started very slowly and looked lethargic in the opening quarter as they allowed the visitors open up an early advantage. A penalty from out-half Tadhg Bennett put Shannon in front as early as the 3rd minute. And when Wegians spurned their first attacking opportunity on 8 minutes when scrum-half Kieran Campbell overcooked a chip, Shannon caught the Wegians defence napping from the resulting 22, forcing an attacking lineout which several phases later led to an unconverted try in the right-corner for Richie Mullane.
Wegians continued to struggle to get a foothold in the game, and with their defence looking decidedly shaky, Bennett added a second penalty on 20 minutes to open up an 11-0 advantage. If anything the visitors could have been further ahead due to their dominance, threatening the try-line on a few occasions, but they could not add to their first-half tally, with Bennett wide with another penalty attempt. Indeed it was only after the half-hour mark that Wegians finally came into the game, and when Shannon drifted offside in the 35th minute, the Blues finally opened their account with a well-struck penalty from full-back Rob O’Beirn near halfway.
In the second-half Wegians took up where they left off, and it was now the turn of the visitors to look vulnerable. The Blues set the tone with an early break down the right-wing by forwards Conor Muldoon and Liam Scahill which nearly produced a score. But they did make further inroads on the scoreboard when a fine break by Brian Murphy led to another penalty opportunity which O’Beirn struck between the posts. And when the visitors were pinged soon after following good work by Wegians’ centre Chris Brigl, the young full-back landed another corker from the halfway line to reduce the margin to just two points.
With almost half-an-hour remaining Galwegians looked in pole position at this stage to press home their advantage. As the game entered the final quarter they were presented with a golden opportunity to take the lead for the first time, but O’Beirn pushed a close-range effort wide of the uprights for his first miss of the day.
Having been let off the hook, Shannon made the most of their good fortune and managed to stem the tide. The turning point came in the 65th minute when Wegians scrum-half Kieran Campbell, who had a disappointing game, dithered at the base of a scrum near halfway. And when referee Brian McNeice awarded the visitors a penalty, Shannon’s excellent scrum-half Fiach O’Loughlin tapped and went, puncturing a hole deep in the Wegian’s defence. And the pressure finally told when a few phases later O’Loughlin flipped a sweet reverse pass to Shannon hooker Mike Essex who dived over for his side’s second and the winning try. Out-half Bennett’s conversion struck both the post and crossbar before successfully landing between the sticks, but significantly his two-pointer stretched their advantage to nine points.
This signaled that Wegians’ luck was out, and although they also lost lock Dave Nolan who was stretchered off following a lengthy stoppage, they made a valiant attempt to salvage something from the game in the dying minutes. Indeed winger John Cleary seemed to score a perfectly legitimate try in stoppage time only for a forward pass to be called by the poorly positioned referee. Then in one of the game’s final acts they were denied a 5-metre scrum when a Shannon forward slapped the ball into touch in goal following a botched line-out, with the officials inexplicably awarding the visitors a 22 drop-out.
So Wegians ended up with nothing to show for their efforts, but they have many positives to take from this game as they prepare for their next encounter against a much-improved UCD who defeated Buccaneers on Saturday to leapfrog Wegians in the League table.
Tries: Richie Mullane, Mike Essex; Conversion: Tadhg Bennett; Penalties: Tadhg Bennett (2). Ref: Brian McNeice