Head coach Brendan Guilfoyle reflects on an excellent start to the season where Galwegians have won their opening three games of the season in AIL Division 2C.
Despite a turbulent pre-season in the Connacht Senior League where they picked up only a 8-8 draw against Ballina, Brendan remarks how they have bounced back in their opening fixtures:
“Although we were quite positive (ahead of the season), I think the first block of AIL fixtures have gone as well as we could have wanted, “said Brendan. “It was better than some people may have expected.”
“We as coaches were quite confident with the quality we had coming in and thankfully a lot of the new guys have delivered which really complimented the homegrown guys that were already here for the last couple of years”.
Last season saw Galwegians struggle at set-pieces, especially in the line-outs and the scrum. Strong recruitment with forwards have been pivotal with the additions of foreign talent such as Garyn Daniel, Hugo Gens and Jesse Va’asuaga, while transitioning current players into new positions.
The forwards have excelled so far in the first three rounds with the maul proving to be effective with Brendan stating that they scored a maul try for the first time in a few seasons and have manged one for every game so far alongside “huge scrum stability and scrum dominance”.
“The inclusion of Garyn Daniel at tighthead has made a huge difference with the scrum but also Jack Winters who as back row last year, now at loosehead since half-way last year. The two of them have come on massively and have played eighty minutes in all three games so far, which has been massive stability for the rest of the team”.
“You have Oisin Halpin and Rob Holian who have come into the second row, which has been a huge addition. As well the back row, Jesse has come in from New Zealand. The inclusion of Hugo too, who has come in from France to improve his English, you have a really formidable pack”.
The rise in form in the forward pack has consequently has also seen a substantial increase in performance in the back-line, with an injection of youth and experience. With many stars with the backs, Brendan has found it hard to single just one player with them firing on all cylinders.
“Tiarnan Neville has come in at out-half, has brought a lot of energy and direction. He’s great, full of confidence at out-half. Mikey McGiff has come in for six months, some experience and a lot of communication on the field”.
“We also had some of our Connacht lads which is always good; Shane Mallon who played with us last year and was very good has continued in the same vein. Finn Tracey who has moved from Leinster to the Connacht academy, both have performed really well”.
Brendan has praised the new players for gelling into the team quickly, along with the youth players rising through the ranks, with five U20s playing in the recent game against Clonmel.
Making sure the team doesn’t stay complacent in their group of fixtures, the whole team will be looking to fix niggling issues in the team.
“It has been far from perfect, a lot still to work on. Clonmel especially we felt we were really off our game in some aspects. But the difference this year was that grit we had that pulled through and ensured we got a victory when we weren’t performing”.
Looking ahead to their next game against third-placed Bruff RFC, Galwegian will be looking to secure another victory at the peak of the division and secure revenge over the side that relegated them last year.