- Result: Galwegians Firsts 9 - Shannon 21
- Venue: Thomond Park on Sat Oct 22nd 2005
- Competition: AIL Division 1
On paper this does not look a bad result for a Galwegians team who travelled to Limerick without too much hope of a result on Saturday, but having led defending champions Shannon for almost an hour of this game, Wegians ended up bitterly disappointed to return home empty-handed from this one.
Following a poor defeat in their League opener at home to Blackrock the previous week, Wegians fielded a slightly stronger side, boosted by the return of Connacht players Tom Tierney and Andrew Gallagher. And they made an impressive start against a lethargic Shannon team. A clever box-kick from scrum-half Tierney put the home side under pressure in the second minute, but their line held firm despite the best efforts of the Galwegians forwards, with the visitors eventually settling for a 7th minute drop-goal from young out-half Peter Durcan.
Shannon briefly threatened the line after the restart but good solid defence from Wegians kept them at bay, and thereafter it was Wegians who were clearly the dominant side. Their pack was well on top, with an excellent scrummaging performance by the front-row of Denis O’Brien, Chuck Robinson & Ross Davies, and a competitive line-out from jumpers Gallagher, Brian McClearn and Derek Boyd. However despite their dominance, they rarely seriously threatened the Shannon line, with the backline lacking any serious pace and penetration. The best the visitors could muster was a penalty in front of the posts on the half-hour from winger John Cleary to double their lead.
This seemed to spark Shannon into action, and they drew level within five minutes following two simple Andrew Thompson penalties, the second following the sin-binning of Wegians centre Hugh Murphy. But some excellent work by Wegians’ outstanding flanker Ivan Muldoon (in between four separate visits to the blood-bin) gave Cleary the chance to make it 9-6 to Wegians with another well-struck penalty just before half-time.
Despite a positive opening five minute period after the restart, when good work from Brian McClearn and another clever kick from Tierney set up an attacking position, only to be repelled by the home defence, Wegians then lost their way and spent the remainder of the game on the back foot. Not having a recognised hooker inevitably caused problems in the line-out where recently converted prop Robinson, understandably in the circumstances, was struggling to find his targets. And when prop Denis O’Brien was replaced by Ronan Loughney, they conceded the edge noticeably in the scrum.
However the home side were frustrated for long periods by a gritty Wegians defence, and they were guilty of wasting several opportunities, including two relatively easy penalties from the normally reliable Thompson. However when Galwegians' flanker Derek Boyd deliberately blocked a quick tapped free-kick midway through the half, he also went into the bin, and the pressure on the visitors was clearly mounting. It eventually took its toll on 65 minutes when Shannon sucked in the cover and sub winger David O’Donovan dived over on the right for the opening try, with Thompson now finding his range to land an excellent conversion for a 13-9 lead. Then a rush of blood to the head from the otherwise impressive McClearn on 70 minutes saw him earn Wegians’ third yellow card, and it proved extremely costly. Thompson landed the resultant penalty to make it 16-9, and five minutes later Shannon lock Donnacha Ryan scored an almost identical second try to deny Wegians even a consolation bonus point.
While coach Paul Young can take many positives from a battling team performance, his side were left to rue their indiscipline which ultimately cost them dearly. His young charges will have a chance to redeem themselves next week at home to Garryowen in Glenina on Saturday.