Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

Firsts 28 – Cashel 16


Match Result

  • Result: Galwegians Firsts 28 - Cashel 16
  • Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Mar 23rd 2013
  • Competition: AIL Division 2A

Match Report

Galwegians ground out a hard-fought win in this mid-table clash against Cashel at Crowley Park on Saturday. With promotion beyond both teams, it was a chance to put down a marker for next year by ending the season on a high. Playing in dry but windy conditions with a strong crossfield breeze, the first-half was largely uneventful as both packs battled well trying to assert themselves.

The visitors hit the front with a penalty by full-back Pat O’Connor on 10 minutes, with the Blues getting on the wrong side of referee Eanna O’Dowd at the breakdown early on. However they levelled matters when their first meaningful attack led to a penalty by Irish U-21 international full-back Darragh Leader at the end of the first quarter.

The Cashel lineout was causing problems pinching some home throw-ins, and O’Connor restored their 3-point lead on 28 minutes. However the Blues were beginning to apply more pressure and with the penalty count now starting to mount against the visitors, Cashel centre Brian Silke was sin-binned for deliberate interference with the Blues pressing near the line, and Leader again levelled matters with his second penalty. The first-half seemed to be petering out to an uneventful conclusion until a bizarre red card in the last minute was shown to a perplexed Wegians no. 8 Jonathan Gardiner, following the intervention of the touch judge. Video replays indicate an extremely harsh decision, however it meant the Blues had to play 40 minutes reduced to 14 men.

However the hosts made the perfect start to the second half when Cashel failed to reclaim the restart, and Wegians’ captain Colin Conroy seized the loose ball to jink his way past the sleeping visiting defence and dance over for the opening try. Leader converted the try, and he added a third penalty five minutes later when the Tipperary side received their second yellow, this time winger Kevin Quinlan having to spend ten minutes in the dug out.

The seven-man Wegians pack was coping comfortably against the eight-man visiting forward unit, and the Leader brothers Tadgh at out-half and Darragh at full-back were making full use of the wind advantage in this half. However Cashel threw everything at them in an attempt to get back into the game. Their pressure was finally rewarded in the 64th minute when full-back Pat O’Connor took a scoring pass to dot down near the right corner for an unconverted try, halving the deficit to just five points.

This left the game delicately poised for the final fifteen minutes, but Wegians showed the greater nous and hunger to close out the game. A wave of attacks near the line finally ended in hooker Conor Muldoon getting over in the right-hand corner in his last act of the game. Then with five minutes remaining, Darragh Leader showed his class by evading three tackles to skip through the bemused visiting defence and score near the posts, with his conversion stretching the advantage to seventeen points.

The visitors went in search of salvaging something from the game, and with Wegians sub prop Doran McHugh in the sin-bin, they scored a last minute try when captain Ed Leamy was mauled over the line. Time ran out for Wegians to try seal a bonus point, but with thirteen men left on the field, they were happy to hear the final whistle and take a deserved four points.

Next up for Wegians is their final home game on Easter Saturday against another midtable side Banbridge.


1. Ja Naughton, 2. Conor Muldoon, 3. Jason East, 4. Anthony Ryan, 5. Brian McClearn, 6. Ross Fitzgerald, 7. Ivan Muldoon, 8. Jonathan Gardiner, 9. Conor O’Rourke, 10. Tadhg Leader, 11. Barry Lee, 12. Gary O’Brien, 13. John Cleary, 14. Colin Conroy (captain), 15. Darragh Leader Subs: 16. Doran McHugh, 17. Eddie Earle, 18. Paul Hackett, 19. Dave Clarke, 20. Dave Symes

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