- Result: Galwegians Firsts 0 - Sligo 28
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Jan 15th 2022
- Competition: AIL Division 2B
It was a case of déjà vu for our Senior Men when they resumed AIL action last Saturday, going down at home to Connacht rivals Sligo. It was a ruthless exhibition by the visitors who made full capital from their attacks and managed a shutout with some well-drilled defence which saw them maintain their challenge for a play-off spot in Energia All Ireland League division 2B points, and leave Wegians rooted to the bottom of the table. It also booked Sligo their place in the Connacht Senior Cup semi final as this fixture was a double-up.
Conditions were perfect in Galway as the teams lined up for a minute’s silence prior to kickoff, in a tribute to the late Aisling Murphy and in solidarity with her family at this tragic time.
Galwegians kicked off and made the early running, with some strong carrying from a solid pack of forwards and a hard press in defence using the double tackle to great effect. The home side looked the more likely to score, and a promising sweeping move with good hands and a half break from Matt Dever almost let Conor Shaughnessy in, but the Blues were penalised near the Sligo line for holding on.
Then with 15 minutes gone on the clock Sligo struck the first blow. A lineout near halfway set up an attack and after some powerful carries, the ball was spun out to the left where some good handling and continuity play created a chance for centre Ryan Feehily to draw the cover. There was more than a hint of a forward pass, but Feehily’s offload to winger Philip Carter was deemed ok by the officials and he dotted down for the first try. Out-half Josh Reeves added the extras with a well-judged strike.
The half continued with both sides being tested, but defences were on top with huge commitment from both sides keeping their lines intact. Wegians had their chances but crucially were unable to convert, with Shaughnessy wide of the posts with a kickable penalty on 24 minutes. The Blues were giving as good as they got in the set-piece, and when Sligo’s Craig Trimble was binned for cynical obstruction on 38 minutes, they smelt blood. Following a late penalty kick to the corner, a clean lineout take by Marty Cummins set up a rolling maul, and just when they looked certain to score, a dropped ball meant the chance was gone leaving them 0-7 behind at half-time.
It was all to play for at the start of the second-half, but within 5 minutes of the restart the game was done as Sligo struck twice inside a minute. Having initially missed a penalty kick to the corner, Wegians got a reprieve when Sligo knocked it on to concede a scrum near their 22. And although they won the initial strike, the hosts somehow miscontrolled the ball which came back out on the defending side. The dangerous Sligo backline swiftly swung into gear and a strong break by Calum Goddard saw him break the tackle and feed Guilherme Coghetto. The full-back raced along the touchline into the 22 before putting a perfectly weighted chip to the midfield, where centre Feehily collected and raced over to score. Reeves again added the extras to double their lead.
Wegians restarted and Sligo instantly turned the knife. Carter collected the kick on his 22 and evaded the onrushing defence before racing out to the 10 metre line and linking with Feehily. Although he was hauled down outside the ‘Wegians 22, the damage was done and scrum-half Cunningham was on hand to take a scoring pass from Coghetto to dive under the posts.
There was no way back for a shell-shocked Wegians. Sub forward Ben McGuinness was unlucky to be binned almost instantly after his introduction to the fray, as the penalties started to mount. Try as they might, the hosts could gain no momentum. Captain Downey also went into the bin late on, and with time almost up, the visitors nabbed what could prove to be a vital bonus try. Following a scrum on the ‘Wegians 22, the Sligo pack produced perfect ball for Cunningham to attack the blindside before releasing Goddard who raced to the corner for the bonus score. Reeves completed the perfect day with a touchline conversion success.
Next up for Wegians is a vital city derby at Corinthians on Friday night 21st where they will try kick-start their season.