- Result: Galwegians Firsts 27 - Omagh Academicals 5
- Venue: Omagh Academicals RFC on Sat Dec 9th 2023
- Competition: AIL Division 2C
Galwegians are back to their winning ways with a strong 27-5 victory over Tyrone’s Omagh Academicals, securing another bonus point on the road.
After suffering their first loss in the AIL this season to Omagh’s neighbours Clogher Valley last time round, Galwegians were determined to get back on track and keep title ambitions alive.
Two changes were made to Galwegians starting XV, as regular starter Oisin Halpin assumed Jesse Va’afusuaga’s role at blindside flanker, giving Eoin Tarmey his first start since the Midleton game in October. Cian Brady also returned to action at full-back with Darragh Kennedy transitioning to the wing.
Mellon Park held host to the game in difficult conditions with the rain hammering down on the players. Galwegians had a majority of possession in the opening quarter of the game. Their greatest chance came through Finn Tracey who burst through the Omagh backline to break into the 22, but misplaced the pass to Kennedy and the opportunity went abegging.
The hosts didn’t have many visits to the opposition 22 in the first half but Omagh Academicals took advantage their chances to take the lead 20 minutes in. Off the back of a scrum, scrum half Lagan slipped through the tackle of Andrew Sherlock to march towards the 22. He found Ben Henry on the right wing, who evaded the tackles of the Galwegians' defence to score the opening try. The hosts had a 5-0 lead which left Galwegians on the back foot.
Galwegians had a majority of the ball but had nothing on the scoreboard to represent their efforts. Oisin McKey got close to his first try in sky blue but was intercepted at the line and taken out for a lineout. Another chance came five minutes later just five metres out, but a knock-on scuppered their chances. The weather continued to worsen, throwing a spanner into the works for both sides.
Galwegians started the second half brightly and were close to scoring just minutes in, but just held up on the line. But possession remained in the Omagh 22, and after winning a lineout five metres out, a series of pick-and-goes saw them finally get over the line with Jack Winters claiming the try. The score was level at 5-5 with Tiarnan Neville’s attempt going wide.
At the top of the hour, Neville would take the lead after the Blues won a penalty thirty metres out. Despite the turbulent weather, his kick had the accuracy and distance to give them an 8-5 lead.
Galwegians were now finding their groove and their next try came just two minutes later. Some strong kicking enabled them to move towards the 22, and once they found themselves just metres away from the try-line, Hugh Gavin dotted down under the posts to give Wegians some breathing room. Neville’s conversion made it 15-5.
Omagh soon found themselves backed against a corner, unable to escape outside of their own 22 and starting racking up penalties. Galwegians took advantage to score a second try in the space of ten minutes, this time Garyn Daniel charging over the line as continues to add to his tally for the Blues. Another nailed conversion from Neville gave Galwegians a 22-5 lead.
The visitors were in full command of the game and were now searching for a bonus point to round off another robust performance. Galwegians’ hunt for a bonus point proved to be successful as Oisin McKey finally scored his debut try in the last minute. Playing the ball from left to right, Oisin was left unmarked to touch down and secure the maximum five points in the league for the team.
Clogher Valley’s defeat against Enniscorthy means the championship fight has been blown wide open, with just five points separating the top four in the league. Galwegians close the gap to just three points to the leaders, as they play their final game of 2023 at home in a Connacht Derby against Ballina.