- Result: Galwegians Firsts 5 - Clontarf 17
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Jan 30th 2016
- Competition: AIL Division 1A
Galwegians slumped to disappointing 17-5 defeat at home to second-placed Clontarf at Crowley Park on Saturday.
This was a very frustrating result for Matt Brown’s men, as for long periods of the game they were more than a match for their illustrious opponents. But it was the visitors’ ability to take their chances which ultimately proved the difference.
Playing with the aid of a swirling first-half breeze blowing towards the clubhouse end, the 'Tarf forwards exerted a lot of early pressure. However they met their match in Wegians who defended stoutly. Tarf out-half David Joyce missed a very kickable penalty on 9 minutes, before finding his range on 15 minutes to put them in front 3-0. Despite facing the elements Wegians had their chances as well, including a 5m lineout which had them in prime position, only for the visitors to steal possession from the throw-in and relieve the pressure. Joyce missed another opportunity to double his side’s lead on the stroke of half-time, and at this stage Wegians were looking good and well placed to kick on.
The Blues dominated the opening 10 minutes of the restart, but an equally resilient 'Tarf defence held them at bay. Failure to take their chances would cost the hosts dearly, with the lineout the most disappointing aspect of their game where Tarf had complete supremacy throughout. Wegians were somewhat unlucky in that the wind changed direction and seemed to favour the visitors in the second-half.
The game was decided in a three-minute spell in the third quarter when the north Dublin side scored two tries in quick succession. Following a charge-down of Wegians’ out-half Aidan Moynihan's attempted clearance, the visitors set up camp near the Wegians line, and their impressive forward unit patiently went through the phases before young Clontarf tighthead Vakhtang Abdaladze - capped by Ireland at Under-18 and Under-19 level in recent years - forced his way over for a 50th minute try.
Joyce converted well from the right, and moments later it was a case of deja vu. An excellent break by centre Matthew Darcy near halfway set up another siege on the try-line, and this time it was loosehead Ivan Soroka who burrowed over, with Joyce once again adding the extras. 17-0 down and with the game seemingly beyond them, 'Wegians were quick to respond and gave themselves a lifeline. When a half-break by Ed O’Keeffe fed John 'Luigi' Cleary, a deft sidestep by the full-back wrong-footed the Tarf defence and saw the Galway Sports Start of the Year score an excellent try near the right-hand corner. Shane O’Leary was off target with a near impossible conversion into the wind.
However there was to be no late comeback on offer, as the canny visitors went on to close the game out in the final quarter in relative comfort. Wegians did come close to scoring a bonus-point second try when replacement Doron McHugh was held up inches short of the line in the final minutes of the game. But the visitors and former AIL champs just had enough nous and smarts about them to grind out a hard-earned win. However Blues coach Matt Brown will have been very disappointed not to have taken at least a bonus point on the day.
Despite this defeat, Galwegians remain in eighth place in the League table, although bottom-placed Ballynahinch have gained serious ground in recent weeks and are now a mere three points behind the Blues following their impressive win away to Terenure College. Next up for Wegians is a very tough away assignment to clear League leaders UCD at Belfield on Saturday, where points are vital in the Blues' bid to move away from the relegation zone.
John Cleary, Cormac Brennan, Api Phewhairangi, Shane O’Leary, Ed O’Keeffe; Aidan Moynihan), Barry Lee; Ja Naughton (capt.), Juan Anaya, Jason East; Marty Cummins, Dave Nolan; Marc Kelly, Josh Pim, Anthony Ryan.
Subs: Doron McHugh, Jack Dinneen, Matt Towey, Ronan Moore, Alan McMahon.