- Result: Galwegians Firsts 13 - UL Bohemians 10
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Sep 27th 2014
- Competition: AIL Division 1B
A last-gasp drop-goal from Ciaran Gaffney saw Galwegians snatch victory at the death against UL Bohemians in a tense top-of-the-table encounter at Crowley Park on Saturday.
Both sides came into this game with two wins each from their opening two games, so there were high hopes of an entertaining spectacle. Wegians started with aplomb when they took the lead as early as the second minute. Playing with a stiff first-half breeze, they went on the offensive right from the kick-off. A deft offload by centre Brian Murphy released full-back John Cleary down the left. Although the veteran was held up just short, he found Matt Dever on his shoulder and the left-winger continued his rich vein of form to score his fifth try in four games under the posts, with Dave Clarke converting for an early 7-0 lead.
However the visitors didn’t panic, and they soon managed to work their way back into the game. Wegians were ominously getting on the wrong side of referee Eddie Hogan-O’Connell, coughing up four penalties in the opening ten minutes alone. Bohs out-half Shane Airey was wide with a 7th minute penalty attempt, but it worked to their advantage as the visitors charged down the 22 kick-out. And from a resulting line-out penalty, captain Ed Kelly got on the end of a rolling maul to cross for a try in the tenth minute, which was converted by Airey to pull the sides level.
The game became a very scrappy stop-start affair with the referee’s whistle the only consistent element, with each side being pinged at least ten times in the opening half and a plethora of lineouts pulled up for crooked-in throws. With the wind at their backs, the Blues were dominating territory but failed to find any end-product. Clarke was wide of the posts with two very kickable penalties, and on one occasion in particular Wegians were laying siege to the Bohs line, only to see a vital 5m scrum wheeled with the visitors relieving the pressure. Yet for all that, the visitors had their chances and were playing an effective game against the elements, but the final pass was eluding them whenever scoring chances came their way.
Thus it remained 7-7 at half-time, and Bohs would have been well pleased with this scoreline with the wind at their backs in the second-half. However they did themselves no favours when a charge tackle on winger Jerome Harrimate on 43 minutes led to the sin-binning of full-back Mossy Lawler. This boosted the hosts, and they soon regained the lead after a quickly taken lineout from deep inside their half caught the visitors napping, with a trademark counterattack from Cleary setting up an attack. This led to a penalty 25 metres out, and this time Clarke found his range from the right to put the Blues 10-7 in front.
However the pendulum swung again, as the hosts were once again coughing up a succession of penalties at ruck time, leading to the binning of hooker Jack Dinneen just before the hour-mark. Shortly afterwards Bohs levelled when Airey kicked a penalty from close-range, and the momentum seemed very much with the Limerickmen. Despite being a man down, Wegians responded well and a good attack from deep set up another penalty out left, but Clarke was off target from a difficult angle into the wind.
The stop-start nature of the game continued and with the penalty count still very much in their favour, Bohs' out-half Airey kept putting boot to ball to set up territory, making them the likelier side to steal a win. They had their chance to take the lead on 67 minutes when yet another ruck penalty gave Airey the opportunity to go for goal, only to guide his 30 metre effort just to the right of the posts.
With neither side playing to their potential, this game was coming down to who had the greater will to win, and for this reason alone the Blues deserved to come out on top. They defended like tigers and truth be told the visitors never came close to the try-line. Then with time running out, the winning score came when Caolin Blade robbed the visitors of possession from a maul out of nowhere. His counterattack stretched the Bohs defence, allowing substitute scrum-half Barry Lee feed fellow replacement Ciaran Gaffney who was in the pocket in front of the posts. It may not have been the cleanest strike, but somehow it hobbled and bobbled its way over the bar to seal a dramatic victory for the Blues.
It was far from their best display of the season, however coach Matt Brown was missing some key players through injury and suspension. While the high penalty count against will continue to be a worry, he will have been pleased by the defensive effort which ultimately won them the game and keeps them top of UBL Division 1b after three games. Their next match is a local derby away to Buccaneers at Dubarry Park on Saturday.
Replacements: B Lee, C Gaffney, P Macreannor, C Dunne, J Pimm