- Result: Galwegians Firsts 17 - Malone 32
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Mar 10th 2018
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
Galwegians’ mid-season revival of three wins on the bounce came to an end when they were beaten by runaway League leaders Malone at Crowley Park on Saturday. However there was no shame in this result as Brian McClearn’s young charges put in a gutsy spirited display to give their much-vaunted hosts a good run for their money in the second-half.
Malone came into this game with just one loss all season, and with a wind advantage in the first-half, they took the lead on 8 minutes when a well-drilled line-out maul saw lock Michael Shiels ground the ball over the line. Winger Rory Campbell landed an excellent conversion to give his side an early 7-0 lead.
However the Blues responded well and after 12 minutes out-half Morgan Codyre landed an excellent penalty into the difficult breeze reduce the margin to 7-3. Despite missing some frontline players, especially up front, the hosts defended stoutly for the next twenty minutes against a threatening looking Malone backline. Unfortunately the Blues lost promising loose-head prop Conor Kyne early on, and this put their scrum under added pressure. They held out until just after the half-hour mark when a series of scrum penalties on the 5m line led to a somewhat inevitable penalty try.
It proved something a double whammy for Wegians when ref Richard Kerr also binned tight-head Martin Fox for collapsing the scrum, and the visitors took full advantage of the extra man. Having set up camp again in the 22, the Ulstermen piled on the pressure with captain and flanker Ross Todd finishing off this time wide on the left for a third try. Campbell added another conversion to give his side a commanding 21-3 half-time lead.
With their hosts still temporarily down to 14 men, Malone didn’t have to wait long for the bonus fourth try, which duly arrived in the 41st minute, out-half Callum Brown claiming the touchdown this time near the right corner. At this stage it looked like the visitors might run riot, as they have done so frequently against other sides all season. However this youthful Wegians side really stood up, refused to roll over and took the game to their opponents. They were rewarded on 47 minutes when they scored their first try. After some good patient play, the ball was spun wide to veteran full-back John Cleary who barged over on the left for his first try since coming out of retirement, bringing his AIL career tally to an astonishing 60 tries.
Codyre landed an excellent conversion to reduce the gap to 26-10. Malone then stretched their advantage when Campbell tagged on a penalty, however Wegians were far from done. They battled away gamely and in the 68th minute, forward Matt Towey finished well near the posts to score his side’s second try. Codyre’s conversion reduced the gap to just 12 points, giving the visitors something to think about for the final ten minutes.
On 75 minutes there were yellow cards given to Malone sub forward Tiarian Dillon and Wegians’ Martin Fox, with Fox’s second yellow equating to a red. Soon afterwards the visitors made the game safe when Campbell added a second penalty to give his side a 15-point margin, and they comfortably saw it out till the final whistle.
However Wegians’ coach Brian McClearn can take great heart from his side’s performance, who showed admirable qualities when lesser teams may have folded with the odds so stacked against them. Next up for Wegians is a crucial away match at Blackrock on Saturday March 24. The Dublin side lie a solitary point behind the Blues in the League table, and a win for either side would go a long way to ensuring safety as the season nears its end.