- Result: Galwegians Firsts 12 - Dungannon 19
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Apr 16th 2005
- Competition: AIL Division 1
Galwegians’ All-Ireland League Division 1 campaign came to a slightly disappointing end when they were edged out by a Dungannon side who had just a little more savvy about them at Crowley Park on Saturday.
With both sides having secured their safety with important wins the previous week, there was little to play for except pride and the honour of finishing above the opposition in mid-table. The game also marked coach Bernie Kelly’s last game in charge of Galwegians, and the home side seemed intent on giving him a proper send-off with a blistering start which saw them race into al early 12-point lead. The first score came after barely 7 minutes when out-half Paddy Noble kicked a penalty to the corner, and from the resultant line-out the Wegians pack mauled their way over the line, with hooker John Burke emerging with the ball to register the opening try.
Then on 15 minutes, following more good pressure by the home side, some neat passing created an opening out wide, and a wonderful interchange between centre Dave Rogers and winger James Littleton saw Rogers cross in the corner for an excellent try. A superb conversion by Noble gave them a 12-0 lead, and they were looking very strong at this point.
Unfortunately that was the prove Wegians’ last score, and they were to let the visitors back into the game shortly afterwards. Dungannon full-back John McGuckin collected a loose kick inside his own half moments later and galloped down the left wing and skipped a couple of half-hearted tackles to score on the left, with Irish U-21 out-half Gareth Steenson converting to reduce the margin to 12-7. Then on the half-hour mark, some sloppy passing by the Wegians backs gave the visitors an interception, and pacy winger Gillan Carruthers was sent clear on the left to score a second try, with Steenson again converting for a 14-12 lead.
It was hard to imagine Wegians conceding two such soft tries if the result really mattered, such was the nature of the contest.
In the second-half Wegians came back into the game more. Although they never seriously threatening the line, midway through they had a chance to regain the lead when Dungannon lock Rupert West was sin-binned, but Paddy Noble’s penalty effort sailed wide. The away side then worked their way out of trouble, with Steenson using his huge boot to clear the danger and set up attacking opportunities on more than one occasion. Then with five minutes remaining the visitors sealed their win with a well-worked backline move sending Carruthers over, this time in the right corner, for his second and Dungannon’s third try.
Wegians almost got back into it when a late break by Wegians full-back Tom Allen nearly led to a score, but winger Stuart Meagher was unable to find his pass. Shortly afterwards the final whistle blew to signal an end to this year’s League campaign. Galwegians finished in ninth position, representing modest but significant progress from last year where they survived relegation by a whisker on the final day of the season.