- Result: Galwegians Firsts 10 - Terenure 14
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Apr 2nd 2016
- Competition: AIL Division 1A
Galwegians suffered another agonising loss when they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in this tense Division 1a encounter against fellow strugglers Terenure College at Crowley Park on Saturday.
This was a clash between second-from-bottom and third-from-bottom, as the visitors Nure went into this contest a point to the good after the previous game round when they overhauled the Blues. In truth this was a game which had the haunting prospect of relegation hovering over both teams, and it showed in a very edgy and nervous contest where the fear of losing was palpable on both sides.
The Blues had a slight wind advantage in the first half and they looked the more threatening early on, dominating territory. However their game was littered with errors, and any time they got into a promising position it came unstuck, with their set-piece and lineout in particular malfunctioning at the wrong time. Also they were being pinged regularly by referee Peter Fitzgibbon at the breakdown as the visiting defence held sway.
The home side’s cause was not helped by an unfortunate clash on 20 minutes between influential centre Brian Murphy and Nure full-back James O’Donoghue, with Murphy departing the scene prematurely. Also they were unlucky to lose another key player in open-side Josh Pim who took an early knock.
Having soaked up the early pressure, it was the visitors who struck first when they scored after what was their first serious attack of the game. When a smart breakout by right-wing Jake Swaine pierced the Wegians rearguard, the visitors sucked in the scrambling defence before releasing left-wing Matthew Burke who dived over in the opposite corner. Swaine then landed an excellent conversion to give his side a precious 7-0 lead.
One thing the Blues have never lacked all season is heart, and they took the game again to the opposition. Their pressure was finally rewarded on 39 minutes when a chip through by out-half Aidan Moynihan took a somewhat fortunate deflection, landing perfectly into the path of substitute winger Alan McMahon, who took his chance well to dive over in the left corner. Moynihan then landed an inch-perfect conversion into the breeze to square the game. The visitors did have their chances to regain the lead in first-half stoppage time. First Swaine was off target with a long-range penalty attempt, before Burke knocked on with the line at his mercy on the stroke of half-time.
The visitors upped the ante after the break and were dominating the territory stakes in the third quarter. They were playing a patient game working through the phases, but they met a solid wall of Wegians defence who also kept their discipline to not concede any penalties within kickable range. The few chances that the visitors had when in the Wegians 22 were dealt with admirably, including one prolonged series of thirty-plus phases which was eventually turned over by the hard-working Wegians pack.
A key moment came on 65 minutes when Moynihan put in an excellent block and hacked the ball deep into opposition territory, causing panic-stations which resulted in Nure substitute back-row Robert Duke being sin-binned in a desperate attempt to protect their try-line. Although the Blues could not force their way over the line, Moynihan did land the simple penalty underneath the posts to put his side in front for the first time.
The pressure was now firmly on the visitors, but the Wegians defence was coping admirably and absorbing everything thrown at them. Then with time running out, just as it seemed they had Nure’s number, disaster struck. When playing the ball out of their own half Connacht-style, an elaborate offload fell behind the onrushing full-back John Cleary. The retreating Nure winger Swaine could hardly believe his luck, collecting the loose pass to race home unopposed down the right touchline, before crossing under the posts and diving over for the winning try. He converted himself to give his side a four-point cushion.
Wegians never recovered, as the watertight Nure defence shut the door in their face to close out the game near halfway. It was gut-wrenching for Wegians to lose in this manner, but they were left to rue their earlier missed chances and their inability to see out the game from a winning position.
The upshot of this is that Nure are virtually guaranteed safety with one game round remaining, whereas Wegians have a daunting final game away to high-riding Cork Con on April 16th, where they may need a losing bonus point to guarantee avoiding the automatic drop. As things stand they look doomed to be involved in a relegation play-off to avoid the drop into Division 1B next season.
John Cleary; Ed O’Keeffe, Cormac Brennan, Brian Murphy, Adam Leavy Aidan Moynihan, Barry Lee; Ja Naughton (captain), Jack Dinneen, Jason East; Marty Cummins, Dave Nolan; Marc Kelly, Josh Pim, Anthony Ryan.
Patrick Curran, David O’Connor, Matthew Towey, Peter Claffey, Alan McMahon.