Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

Firsts 15 – Sligo 25

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Match Result

  • Result: Galwegians Firsts 15 - Sligo 25
  • Venue: Strandhill on Sat Oct 3rd 2020
  • Competition: Connacht Senior League

Match Report

Our Senior Mens team made their season debut in a tough encounter away to Sligo in Hamilton Park on Saturday October 3rd. While this was our first ever Energia Community Series game, it was in effect the equivalent to the former Connacht Senior League, of which Sligo were defending champions.

The hosts made the early running and their strong forward unit soon laid down a marker, especially in the scrum. Following successive penalties close in, they soon made it pay on 8 minutes when an 8-man shove shunted the Wegians pack backwards, allowing the hosts grab an early try. This was converted by Euan Brown, and within three minutes the Sligo full-back added a penalty after the Blues collapsed a rolling maul.

Wegians were struggling to get out of their half and before the end of the first quarter, they found themselves 17 points behind after as many minutes. Again it was the scrum doing all the damage, with a penalty try being awarded on this occasion. The influence of Jason East on the Sligo pack was all too evident, and it looked like being avlong afternoon for the Blues at this point.

However all credit to Andrew Browne’s charges who recovered well and soon started playing some good rugby. They looked threatening with ball in hand, and at the start of the second quarter a sweeping move started by full-back Conor O’Shaughnessy brought play right up to the opposition try-line. Following quick ruck ball, a snipe by Rory Gaffney was finished off by captain on the day ‘Dint’ Downey near the corner for an unconverted try.

The Blues then found their mojo and another Shaughnessy break had the home defence in all sorts of trouble, with full-back Brown going to the bin for a high tackle. Wegians had a real chance to further narrow the gap when they set up camp in the Sligo 22, but they were unable to convert when in the red zone, with the 14-man defence repelling the attack and forcing a turnover.

The Blues did reduce arrears on 35 minutes following a thumping long-range penalty by centre Mark Earle. However the hosts cancelled this out on the stroke of half-time, when yet another scrum penalty gave Brown the chance to split the sticks for a 20-8 half-time lead.

In the second-half both sides tried to play open running rugby, and a sweeping move from inside their 22 led to Sligo winger Hubert Gilvarry crossing in the corner for na unconverted try, and a 25-8 lead. The home fans had hopes of kicking on from here, but yet again the Blues recovered very well and they scored their second try barely two minutes later to get right back in the game. A well-worked lineout move saw the pack work their way infield, and another snipe from the impressive Gaffney was finished off this time by flanker Mikey O’Donnell, with Earle adding the extras.

In the final quarter both sides continued to try play attacking rugby as they each went in search of a bonus point. However defence held sway as neither could add to their tally, meaning it ended 25-15. This was a really stern early-season test and there were many positives on view for Wegians, not least the number of debuts from some of our younger squad members. There were first Senior starts for Gary Lally, Shane O’Meara, Ben McGuinness & John Kennedy, while there were Energia Competition debuts for Adam Cunningham, Angelo Johnson & Mark Earle.

Players

Conor O’Shaughnessy; Shane O’Meara, Andy Neary, Mark Earle, James Kennedy; Adam Cunningham, Rory Gaffney; Gary Lally, Angelo Johnson, Stephen Hyland; Oisin Foden, Eoin Tarmey; Matt Towey, Mikey O’Donnell, Kieran Downey (captain). Subs: Andrew Paton, Christy Reilly, Ben McGuinness; Cormac Furey, John Kennedy.

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