- Result: Galwegians Firsts 23 - UL Bohemians 27
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Oct 8th 2016
- Competition: AIL Division 1B
Galwegians put in a superb gutsy performance only to come up tantalisingly short against high-flying League leaders UL Bohemians at Crowley Park on Saturday.
With his depleted squad having to dig deep into their reserves, coach Brian McClearn’s side were given little chance coming into this game against the early pace-setters in UBL Division 1b. But the Blues showed a marked improvement over last week’s disappointing capitulation away to Dolphin. Playing into a mild first-half breeze in the first-half, Wegians started the more impressive, and their early pressure was rewarded in the 7th minute when winger Peadar O’Beirn went over on the right for his debut score in the All-Ireland League.
The visitors soon settled into their stride however, and before long they hit back with their own first try. When Wegians’ prop Conan O’Donnell was sin-binned as early as the 12th minute for collapsing the maul, the Red Robins made hay when they mauled their way over from the resulting lineout, with flanker James Ryan claiming the touch down. Bohs’ Kiwi out-half Rick McKenna landed the conversion to put his side in front 7-5.
Wegians responded well to this set-back, and despite being a man down they found themselves back in front by the end of the first quarter. It came when the Blues Aidan Moynihan, starting at 10 for the first time in place of the absent Mitch Lam, evaded a couple of tackles for an excellent 20th minute try out wide, putting his side 10-7 to the good.
The second quarter was a compelling high tempo contest, and any thoughts that the visitors had of a comfortable fourth successful bonus point win were being dispelled by a highly competitive performance by Wegians. The Blues held on to their lead until the 39th minute when Bohs hit back yet again. This time their powerful number 8 Brian Walsh rounded off an overlap to score on the left wing. McKenna again added the extras to give his side a 14-10 lead at half-time.
The game was effectively decided in what proved to be an attritional third quarter, which saw the influential O'Donnell and UL's talismanic scrum half Cathal Sheridan both forced to retire with injuries. Wegians’ full-back Conor Lowndes reduced arrears on 53 minutes with a penalty, only for McKenna to almost immediately cancel it out. However the clinical visitors showed why they are League leaders when they scored what ultimately proved the decisive score. It came when they outflanked the impressive Wegians defence by putting impressive width on the ball, allowing centre Finbar Aherne to cross for a 58th minute try. McKenna again added the extras to give his side what looked an unassailable 24-13 lead.
However Wegians showed tremendous heart and self-belief and they took the game to their opponents, dominating the final quarter. They appeared to throw themselves a lifeline on 63 minutes when they drove a ruck over the line under the posts, but referee Leo Colgan refused to award the score, much to the consternation of the home side.
Lowndes did land a second penalty on 70 minutes to reduce the deficit. Spurred on by this, the hosts soon got their third try when pressure was rewarded with debutant winger Matthew Quinn crossing in the left corner barely four minutes later. Lowndes' excellent conversion left his side not trailing by a solitary point.
The Blues threw the kitchen sink at the Robins, but the wily visitors held their line. Then the final act was yet again not without controversy, when Wegians picked up a costly and controversial yellow card after UL had hacked the ball downfield. This gave McKenna one final chance to add to his points tally, and he duly obliged, making the final score 27-23.
This was the first time that UL Bohs did not claim a five-pointer bonus win, and they will reflect on a hard earned victory. Wegians’ performance not only earned a consolation bonus point, but it will also give coach McClearn much grounds for optimism for the rest of the season.