- Result: Galwegians Firsts 10 - Cork Constitution 6
- Venue: Temple Hill on Sat Dec 18th 2004
- Competition: AIL Division 1
First Ever AIL Win Against Cork Con For Galwegians
Galwegians scored their first-ever win in the AIL over former champions and least season’s beaten finalists Cork Con in a magnificent victory in Cork on Saturday.
This was a hard-fought but well deserved win for the Blues, and also very timely, being their first in this season’s AIL, which moves them out of the bottom two of Division 1 and heading in the right direction in the league table. Notwithstanding the history books being against them, the form book also pointed towards a home win before the game, and with inspirational skipper John Casserly also being a late withdrawal due to illness, few pundits gave Bernie Kelly’s side the remotest chance of emerging with anything from this encounter.
But no one told this young Wegians team anything about this script, and they set about their task with admirable determination and character to fashion this historic result. Played in miserable wet conditions, which made handling very difficult, the visitors started well, and should have taken an early lead, but the normally reliable John Cleary failed with a kickable penalty attempt.
Instead it was the home side who opened the scoring on 20 minutes with a penalty from their prolific scrum-half Pat McCarthy. But soon afterwards Wegians served notice of their intentions when they scored their first try. It was an excellent move straight off the training ground, when a well-worked move ans some good handling by both forwards and backs saw no. 8 Scott Donald make a decisive break before offloading the scoring pass to full-back James Littleton who crossed for an excellent try. Cleary was wide with the conversion attempt, leaving the visitors 5-3 in front.
Cork Con then responded by establishing some territorial possession, and they nosed in front again through another penalty by McCarthy. But the turning point of the game arrived before the break, when a quickly tapped penalty by Galwegians’ scrum-half Michael Roche saw him impeded by Con winger Cronan Healy. Referee David Keane promptly sin-binned Healy for the offence, and when Wegians swept upfield, it resulted in a superb solo effort by out-half Tom Allen who burst up the right from the 22 m line and jinked his way around the home defence to score a sensational try in the corner.
This put Wegians deservedly 10-6 in front at the break, with the game still delicately poised. Con set about their task after the restart by establishing some territory, with their promising young out-half Barry Keeshan using the boot to good effect. But they were unable to make it count as they met a superbly organised Galwegian defence which refused to buckle. All fifteen players stuck admirably to their task, and none more so than their back row of Ambrose Conboy, Ivan Muldoon and Donald who tackled like demons.
As the game entered its final quarter, Wegians momentarily lost their discipline when their only contracted player on view, prop Peter Bracken, was sin-binned for persistent infringing. However their defence remained steadfast, with young reserve prop Steve McGrath more than holding his own when deputising for Derek Boyd during Bracken’s enforced absence.
With time running out, Con kept the pressure up, but Wegians’ tenacity and character was summed up by two pivotal moments. Firstly, when the home side were awarded an attacking scrum, the Galwegians pack shunted them backwards and drove off their own ball. Then when they were awarded a penalty close-in with full-time approaching, Con went for the line-out, but their throw-in was brilliant robbed with a two-handed take by Derek Boyd. It was to prove Con’s last roll of the dice, as the final whistle sounded soon after to signal victory for Bernie Kelly’s men. It was never more deserved.