- Result: Galwegians Firsts 8 - Corinthians 22
- Venue: Corinthian Park on Fri Jan 5th 2018
- Competition: AIL Division 2A
Corinthians emerged as victors over local rivals Galwegians in the city derby return leg in UBL Division 2A on a calm winter’s evening under lights at the Tuam last Friday . Both sides came into this game lying in the bottom two places of the League table, with only two wins out of ten each thus far. And although there was little to choose between the sides for long periods of this game, the hosts were worthy winners on account of their clinical finishing and an ability to take the scoring chances which came their way.
In an evenly contested first half, it was the visitors who were edging the early exchanges in terms of both territory and possession. However they were unable to turn early dominance into scores on the board, spurning one great chance in particular when they were 3 metres from the opposition try line, only to be penalised by referee Cillian Hogan. For their part Corinthians defended comfortably, and they served notice of their intent when they scored with their first real incursion into the Wegians half at the end of the first quarter. It may not have been the cleanest strike, but out-half Mark McDermott slotted his penalty between the sticks from the left.
Wegians responded instantly when they won a penalty from the restart, which gave Morgan Codyre the opportunity to level matters from in front of the posts. The Blues then held the upper hand for the next period with their dominant scrum providing a platform, but for all that they never really threatened to make a breakthrough. Codyre tried his luck with a long-range penalty attempt on the half-hour mark from near halfway, and although he had the distance it went just wide.
A turning point came shortly afterwards when Wegians flanker Matt Towey was sin-binned for a high tackle near the Corinthians 22. The hosts took advantage by working their way upfield, and just when the 14-man Wegians looked like holding them out, on the stroke of half-time scrum-half Sean Hogan spotted a gap, leapfrogged a ruck and scampered home under the posts for an opportunist opening try. McDermott converted to give his side a 10-3 lead at the break.
The game was effectively decided within minutes of the restart. Although the visitors were restored to their full complement, a galvanised home side smelt blood and went on the attack. The Blues were holding their line well against an attacking scrum under the posts, but they were undone by a clever and perfectly judged kick from out-half McDermott threaded through the midfield defence, which allowed his older brother Dave to claim the touchdown. McDermott the younger converted superbly from out wide, and suddenly the hosts were 17-3 to the good.
This left a mountain to climb for Wegians, however they showed good spirit and self-belief to give themselves a lifeline. They went on the attack from the restart, with their scrum remaining well on top, even after losing the excellent loose-head Conor Kyne who was restricted to 40 minutes of action. They were turning the screw on the home pack under the posts, before centre Dave Clarke finished off a sustained period of pressure by spotting a gap to dive over near the right corner. Although unconverted it brought them back into the game at 17-8.
Unfortunately for the Glenina men this was as good as it got, as any hopes of a comeback proved to be a false dawn. The Blues were not helped by the loss of another of their key players, tight-head prop Jason East. And as their scrum dominance waned, the hosts regained control and in truth were comfortably on top in the final quarter. This meant Wegians were trying to force the game from deep inside their own half, and some poor decision-making was to cost them late on. The game was petering out with the hosts on the attack, and deep into stoppage time they sealed victory with try number three, when a stolen lineout resulted in number 8 and man of the match Irish U-20 international Sean Masterson barging over near the corner.
This result was Corinthians’ first-ever win over Wegians in the history of the All-Ireland League, and more importantly it lifted the Cloonacauneen men out of the relegation zone and edging closer to safety. In stark contrast, Wegians remain marooned at the bottom of the table, staring at the face of relegation. However they have seven game rounds left to turn their fortunes around as they try to rediscover a winning formula.