- Result: Galwegians Firsts 0 - Belfast Harlequins 34
- Venue: Deramore Park on Sat Dec 10th 2005
- Competition: AIL Division 1
Galwegians had another day to forget in the AIL as they suffered a major defeat for the third year running at the hands of last year’s finalists, Belfast Harlequins, in Deramore Park on Saturday. In many respects it was a case of déjà vu for the Blues, as last week their loss at UCD saw the students go into fourth place in the Division 1 table, while this week it was the northern outfit’s turn to stake their title credentials and claim fourth spot, while the Blues remain rooted to fourth from bottom at the other end of the table.
In some respects the win flattered the home side, as the Galwegians pack competed well for long periods of this game, but ultimately it was the home side’s vastly superior and more talented backline which made the difference. For the opening quarter some hard work by the Wegians pack kept them in the game, as they defended tenaciously, but on 20 minutes the defence was finally breached when winger Paul McKenzie crossed for the opening try, which was converted by No 10 Mike Glancy. This settled the home side, and on 32 minutes further pressure was rewarded with a try by hooker Stuart Philpott, which was unconverted, leaving the margin 12-0. But any thoughts Wegians might have had of a revival were dashed just before the half-time break when Philpott grabbed a second try, with Glancy adding the points for a 19-0 lead.
Matters got worse for Wegians just after re-start, and with centre Hugh Murphy in the sin-bin, the Harlequins backs again used their pace and skill to send in centre Darren Cave to clinch a fourth and bonus point try. Galwegians’ cause was not helped by the interpretation of the scrummaging in the front row, with Wegians’ loose-head Denis O’Brien being punished more than once and eventually sin-binned, harshly in the view of many observers, including some of the home fans. However this did not diminish the appetite of the home side, and in the 51st minute centre Cave raced in for his second score.
Harlequins coach, former Irish international Andy Ward, then emptied his bench to give more of his squad some game time. In the final quarter Wegians, to their credit, kept plugging away, with the forwards working particularly hard. And while they came close on a few occasions to getting a consolation score, a knock-on or a misplaced final pass always seemed to elude them. Then in the 72nd minute one cameo moment seemed to sum up the difference between the sides. With Wegians camped on the line, the ball was spread out and with a try beckoning, Quins winger McKenzie intercepted a loose pass and raced the length of the pitch from his own goal-line to score his team’s sixth try.
Thus Wegians were on the back end of a six-try defeat for the second week running against superior opposition, and coach Paul Young now has a lot of work to do to try and lift his side’s spirits. However they simply must do this, and fortunately they now face into a four-game run at home either side of the Christmas break. It starts at home to Munster junior club side Cashel this Sunday (Dec. 18) at 2pm in Glenina for the first round of the inaugural AIL All-Ireland Cup. Then the Blues have three vital home AIL games in January against Lansdowne, Dublin University and UL Bohemians.
Subs: Charles Robinson, Conor Muldoon, Brian McClearn , Peter McDonagh, Brian Murphy. Subs: P.Durkan replaced by B. Murphy, D. Boyd replaced by B.McClearn, J. Burke replaced by C. Muldoon.
Subs: Brendan Lynch, Michael Graham, Rob Devonshire, Nopeara Stewart, Mike Mckeever. Replacements :R.Devinshire replaced C.McCarey. M. McKeever replaced J. McCaughlin. N.Stewart replaced Glancy. B.Lynch replaced J Andress. M. Graham replaced G. Rourke.