- Result: Galwegians Firsts 41 - UCC 18
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Dec 3rd 2011
- Competition: AIL Division 1B
Galwegians made it three wins on the trot when they outgunned visitors UCC at Crowley Park on Saturday, while also taking a maximum haul of five points against student opposition for the second week running,
The Blues came into this contest as hot favourites against Conor Twomey’s youngsters, but the home side made a sluggish start against the lively students who belied their bottom of the table position and who were clearly intent on running the ball at every opportunity. College out-half Cormac O’Flynn put the visitors in front with a second minute penalty after a break by his scrum-half Brian Slater which almost led to an opening try. Wegians were soon on level terms when good work by full-back John Cleary and centre Brian Murphy forced an offside, giving out-half and Connacht squad member Matt Jarvis an easy penalty to open his account.
The bigger Blues pack then started to assert themselves, and try-scoring chances were soon created, with lock Owen Tarmey and centre Tadhg Leader both going close. However the Blues were stunned when the students scored the first try towards the end of the first quarter, when a break by Will Ryan from the 10 metre line exposed an absent Wegians defence, and the back-rower had the speed and stamina to finish with a try near the right-hand corner.
Within a matter of minutes it went from bad to worse for Wegians, when some uncharacteristic poor handling from their otherwise impressive scrum-half Dave Moore gifted UCC winger Oscar O’Suilleabhain a chance to hack the ball clear and race home unopposed from near halfway to ground the ball for a second try. O’Flynn converted the second effort to give the students a shock 15-3 lead, and a real upset seemed on the cards.
This seemed to galvanise the shell-shocked Blues into action, and they responded by taking a firm grip of proceedings, bagging three tries in the second quarter to establish a commanding lead. The first came almost straight from the restart when young Leader brilliantly caught a garryowen from Jarvis near the 22 to set up an attack. And three phases later some quick ball fed Cleary who scored near the left-hand corner, which Jarvis converted to reduce arrears to 15-10. The dominant hosts then took the lead for the first time just after the half-hour mark. It came from another break by Cleary and a sublime pass which sent left-wing Barry Lee clear, and the Headford man sped over in the corner for an excellent equalising score. Jarvis then struck another excellent conversion to nose the Blues in front 17-15.
Wegians went on to dominate the remainder of the half, and they put themselves firmly in pole position with a try right on half-time. It came following another excellent burst of speed by in-form winger Lee which almost saw him score a second consecutive brace of tries. But it mattered little, as following the resultant 5 metre scrum, a powerful shunt by the home pack had the students rapidly backpedalling, with referee John Carvill awarding a penalty try. Jarvis added the extras to put Wegians 24-15 in front at the break.
College once again made the brighter start to the second half, and having forced an early offside, O’Flynn narrowed the gap to six points with a 22 metre penalty on 43 minutes. But one sensed it was a matter of time before a clearly superior Wegians side gained the bonus fourth try, and it duly arrived in the 53rd minute. It followed a clean lineout take which set up a rolling maul from the 22, and the students were unable to halt the marauding Blues pack, with back-row stalwart and former captain Ivan Muldoon claiming the touchdown. The flawless Jarvis made a mockery of the difficult breeze to land another excellent conversion, putting the hosts 31-18 in front and seemingly out of sight.
However the students are nothing if not gutsy, and they took the game to their opponents in search of a score which might bring them within bonus range. Wegians hooker Dermot Murphy went into the sin-bin on the hour mark after the Blues conceded a fourth consecutive penalty, but try as they might, the visitors were unable to make any serious inroads as Wegians tightened their defence. Another Jarvis penalty late on put the result beyond any doubt. And in the final act of play, a typical break by captain Cleary brought play right up to the line, and debutant substitute Calum O’Connell was on hand to score his side’s fifth try in what was probably his first touch of ball. Jarvis then completed a perfect day with the boot when he landed his seventh kick from seven to put some gloss on the final score.
Other results meant Wegians remain third from bottom in the Division 1b League table, but they now have serious momentum and are only a single point behind both UCD & UL Bohs who lie in mid table position. Indeed Bohs will provide the next League opposition for the Blues when they travel to Crowley Park on January 7th after a five-week break. However Colm Rigney’s charges have a more pressing engagement on December 17th when they host a Connacht Senior Cup semi-final against city rivals Corinthians at Crowley Park, where will seek to end the year on a high.