Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

Men’s Firsts 25 – Dolphin 19


Match Result

  • Result: Galwegians Firsts 25 - Dolphin 19
  • Venue: Musgrave Park on Sat Apr 27th 2024
  • Competition: AIL Division 2C

Match Report

Galwegians’ ascent back up the AIL pyramid is in full force after victory in the AIL 2B/2C promotion/relegation final, defeating the now-relegated Dolphin RFC 25-19 in Musgrave Park.

After missing out on the title by five points to Clogher Valley, Galwegians will join the County Tyrone side in AIL Division 2B next season, climbing straight back up after last season’s relegation to 2C.

Two changes were made to the starting XV that defeated Bruff in the play-off semi-final. Shane Mallon’s heroics off the bench that saw him score two tries earned him a starting spot at winger, while Ben Donnelly got his first start of the season at scrum half.  A stacked bench for the Blues included Irish Under 20 internationals Finn Tracey and Hugh Gavin enter the fray.

Pre-game nerves began to settle in for both sides, knowing that the outcome of this game would determine their future for next season. As overcast skies loomed over Musgrave Park, the final kicked off.

It was Dolphin who launched the first attack off the game as Galwegians combated an onslaught from the Dolphin forwards on the line. The Blues repelled their early efforts, holding them up twice in the early exchanges.

Instead, it was Galwegians that would land the first blow of the game with Shane Mallon continuing where he left off last weekend with an early try. A team try played to perfection saw Tiarnan Neville orchestrating the move to go wide, Mallon took on the Dolphin defenders and used his pace to blitz past them and open Galwegians’ account for the game. Neville slotted the conversion to lead by seven.

It was Dolphin’s turn to return the favour and scored a try of their own just five minutes later as Timmy Phelan crossed over for Dolphin's first. A extraordinary solo run starting in his own half saw him skip past the Galwegians players and touch down in the corner. Crucially, it was unconverted, ensuring Galwegians held onto their lead by two.

Galwegians would get held up twice themselves as Dolphin protected their line well and kept the Blues from scoring on two occasions with Jesse Va’asfusuaga and Rob Holian agonisingly close to a try each. Discipline was starting to cost the hosts though as Neville created a buffer with two penalties in front of the posts, giving the Blues a 13-5 lead at halftime. There were some close calls from both sides, but Galwegians’ strong defence kept them in front.

It was an electric start for Galwegians as they scored their second try of the game, this time it was Andrew Sherlock with some clever link-up play between himself and Neville. Neville made the break inside the 22, absorbed the bodies to open it up for Sherlock who finished the job. Neville couldn’t repeat the trick off the tee but still led 18-5.

Neville increased the tally with a try of his own at 51 minutes with an expert interception and ran home for Galwegians’ third of the afternoon. Daryl Foley’s pass fell right into the path of Neville who ran sixty metres to put themselves 20 points clear with a half hour to go, with his conversion finding the mark.

Dolphin were now under the collar but pushed hard to make it a dramatic finale. James Vaughan got Dolphin back up and running immediately with their second try. A strong lineout maul got them close and  Vaughan spotted the gap and touched down. Daryl Foley’s conversion cut the gap to 13 points.

Dolphin were firmly in charge throughout the second half and looked set to close down the gap with winger Darragh Buckley almost certain to score in the corner only to be denied by a fantastic last-gasp tackle from Finn Treacy. Chance after chance was given to Dolphin but Galwegians were hanging on.

With time running out, Dolphin were given a lifeline as Rob Holian was sent to the bin and they capitalised with Craig O’Herlihy scoring their third try. Going alone in the 22, he shrugged off the tackles and scored under the posts. Ryan Foley converted off a drop goal for a six-point deficit and set the stage for a dramatic end to the final.

But it was too late for the county Cork side and the final whistle blew as Galwegians successful made their return to Division 2B after a year’s absence. After many difficult years for the Blues, they look to climb back to the higher tiers of the AIL once again.


D Kennedy, O McKey, R Deacy, C Brady, S Mallon, T Neville, B Donnelly, J Winters (C), R Smith, G Daniel, R Holian, E Tarmey, O Halpin, J Vaafusuaga, L Angermann. Reserves: M McColgan, J Haugh, H Gens, D Keane, J Quinn, A Sherlock, J Munn, H Gavin F Tracey.

© 2024 Galwegians RFC

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑