- Result: Galwegians Firsts 20 - Ballynahinch 29
- Venue: Ballynahinch RFC on Sat Apr 21st 2012
- Competition: AIL Division 1B
After surviving a few close shaves in recent years. Galwegians finally suffered the ignominy of relegation from All-Ireland League Division 1 on a dramatic and final day in this season’s campaign when they came away empty-handed from Ballynahinch on Saturday.
Coming into this weekend, Wegians were in pole position to survive the drop and it required a mathematical combination of results to conspire against them. But victories for fellow-strugglers Bruff and UCD, and crucially a bonus point win for the students, meant that those two clubs escaped the dreaded drop, and Wegians’ inability to take anything from their final fixture ultimately sealed their fate.
In many ways this game epitomised Galwegians’ entire season. For after making a disastrous start, they showed great spirit to recover well and get themselves right back into contention, before faltering at the end and failing to realise their potential.
The Blues got off to the worst possible start, conceding a try in the opening minutes when Fergal Lynch crossed for the home side. And with less than 8 minutes gone on the clock, things went from bad to worse when James Simpson scored a second try for Hinch. Harry McAleese converted both tries to put the Mournemen 14-0 clear.
Clearly rattled, the Blues were struggling to get a foothold, and the game seemed completely beyond them when Hinch scored try number three before the half hour mark, this time Aaron Ferris getting the touchdown to stretch their lead to 19-0.
However the Blues came back into it, and an Eoin McKeon try seemed to finally settle their nerves. A conversion and another penalty from out-half Tadhg Leader hauled themselves right back into contention. But once again a crucial lapse in concentration cost the Blues as they conceded another score on the stroke of half-time, when Ian Whitten went over for a killer fourth and bonus point try. McAleese added the extras to put the Mournemen 26-10 in front at half-time.
With word coming through at this stage that other results were not going their way, coach Colm Rigney clearly had words for the Blues at the half-time team-talk. They came out fighting at the start of the second half looking much more focussed about the task at hand, and they got right back into the game when one of their players of the season Brian Murphy scored a second try, which Leader converted to reduce the gap to just nine points. Then as the game approached the hour mark, the Blues brought themselves into bonus point territory with a second successful penalty from Leader, reducing the deficit to just six points.
With their destiny now in their own hands. Wegians unfortunately conceded the initiative soon after when they coughed up a penalty which McAleese duly converted to restore the nine point margin. However try as they might, it just did not happen for the Blues as they were unable to build on their momentum in the final quarter. The closest they came was near the end when Tadhg Leader attempted an ambitious penalty from half-way, only to slip in the wet ground. And when the final whistle sounded, Wegians’ misery was confirmed when word filtered through of the other results which has consigned them to Division 2 rugby for next season at least.
Thus ends a desperately disappointing season for Wegians, who know they have seriously underperformed and failed to deliver on their undoubted potential. Hopefully next season they can regroup and keep their squad largely intact work their way out of a competitive Division 2.