- Result: Galwegians Firsts 19 - Corinthians 16
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Sep 7th 2013
- Competition: Connacht Senior League
Galwegians retained their Connacht Senior League title for the third year running by defeating old rivals Corinthians after extra time in a nail-biting encounter last Saturday evening under lights at Crowley Park.
This was a winner-takes-all clash as both sides had secured bonus point wins over Buccaneers and Sligo in previous weeks and it was Wegians who started the brighter in the damp and miserable conditions. They took the lead on five minutes when full-back Darragh Leader converted a fine penalty from out wide following strong forward play. And the Connacht Academy star doubled the lead shortly afterwards when the visitors were penalised in front of the posts. After a shaky start the Cloonacauneen outfit got back into the game and opened their account a few minutes later after a similar infringement by the home side, with fullback David Panter landing the penalty.
The hosts kept well on top in the first-half and the pressure led to a sin-binning on the half-hour mark for Corinthians forward Eoghan Masterson by referee Karol Collins. Wegians certainly capitalised and used to extra man to good effect, scoring two tries before the break. The first was a well-taken try by winger Colin Conroy, and just before the half-time whistle centre and Connacht squad member Brian Murphy produced a barnstorming run to see off four tackles and somehow barge over the line for a superb individual score. Neither try was converted, but the Blues were very good value for a 16-3 lead at the break.
As so often happens, the second half proved a different proposition. Wegians ceded the initiative as Corinthians realised they needed to up the intensity to get back into the game. The visitors started dominating both possession and field position, yet for all that the score remained the same as the game entered the final quarter. Once again a sin-binning proved instrumental, with Wegians sub prop Paul Griffin seeing yellow on this occasion.
The visitors were quick to capitalise with right winger Eoin Daly finishing a backline move to touch down out wide with ten minutes remaining. The Cloonacauneen men suddenly had a spring in their step, and moments later they grabbed a second try courtesy of a strong athletic run by flanker Aaron Conneely. Although neither try was converted, Wegians were suddenly clinging on grimly to a 16-13 lead. The inevitable Corinthians pressure forced a late penalty and this time Panter held his nerve to bring the game level. Wegians did have a chance to snatch it right at the end of normal time, but Leader pushed a long penalty wide after a scrum offence.
Extra-time saw another swing in the pendulum, as Wegians suddenly regained the initiative and went back to playing more like they had done in the first-half. In the worsening conditions, Leader kicked a good penalty midway through the first extra period for a 19-16 lead. The forwards were now more commanding and the hosts made the most of their hard-fought possession, playing more field position in the process. Some inspired defence led by Brian Murphy made sure the match was closed out, and after the game Connacht Branch President Eamonn Feely presented Wegians captain Brian McClearn with the Connacht Senior League trophy.