- Result: Galwegians Firsts 12 - Bruff 24
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Apr 22nd 2023
- Competition: AIL Division 2B
On a miserable wet day in Crowley Park, Galwegians received an equally miserable result in their relegation playoff semi-final vs Bruff. The loss will see the Galway city men playing their rugby in AIL Division 2C season.
A series of unfortunate events was the theme for Galwegians through this entire game, starting right from the first whistle, with captain Kieran Downey being withdrawn with a hamstring injury sustained in the first ruck of the game.
Although missing a crucial back row player and their main ball carrier, the Blues went on to play most of the rugby in the first half, launching multiple attacks but to no avail. Although the home side had most the possession, their line out was a clear problem, losing four of their first five and letting Bruff off the hook at crucial moments.
Just as Wegians looked like they might break the deadlock, in the 27th minute came the turning point of the game. A late hit from McSweeney saw him earn a yellow and make his way to the dugouts. By this point the Limerick men hadn’t once entered the Galwegians half, but now with the numerical advantage they launched their attack.
After a spell of good defensive efforts from the home side, Bruff finally got what they had been looking for. After stretching the Wegians’ defence, a series of passes looked sure to finish with a try. A deliberate knock on in the tackle from Waterman meant the ball need not be finished over the line, as the penalty try was awarded and Waterman made his way to the bin for Galwegians’ second yellow of the game. Bruff now leading 7-0.
Wegians come back after the restart making every attempt to push themselves back into the game, but continued line out blunders saw Bruff hold strong and go into halftime with a 7-0 lead.
Early in the second half Wegians were handed a lifeline, with Bruff receiving a yellow of their own for a late hit on Langan. Wegians had some great opportunities to get back in the game, but inaccuracies would see many of them wasted, until eventually simple hands put Waterman over in the corner, reducing the gap to two points. Mark Earle made a strong effort at the kick, but he shaved the posts and the score remained 7-5.
Unfortunately for Galwegians Bruff had done their homework, identifying their weakness at the maul, exploiting it to restore their seven-point lead as Tom Quigley touched down for the visitors. The attempted kick sailed wide, and Bruff were back in the driving seat at 12-5.
From there, anything that could go wrong, seemed to go wrong for Galwegians, and Bruff took full advantage going in search of the try that would ensure a bit more security. On the 65th minute they reaped what they sowed. Another strong maul on the five-metre line sucked in the Galwegians pack, before the visitors cleverly spun the ball wide finding flanker Pa Maher who touched down in the corner. The conversion was struck well, and the flags went up, to increase their lead to 19-5.
Galwegians were running out of options, and time. Player coach Shane O Brien came into the game, injecting a serious amount of pace to the Galwegians attack which Bruff were unable to live with, resulting in a breach in the Bruff defence to see full-back Darragh Kennedy cross the line. Earle made sure of the kick reducing the gap to seven once more.
Bruff showed no lack of confidence in their ability as they went in search of the winner. Galwegians mistakes allowed Bruff to play all the rugby in the final quarter. A Galwegians knock on set down for a scrum from which Bruff gained a penalty, and the perfect platform for the visitors to launch their last attack.
A well taken line out transitioned into a strong maul which Galwegians were once again unable to deal with, as the Limerick men hammered home the final nail in the coffin to finish of a heart-broken Galwegians side, the game finishing 24-12.