- Result: Galwegians Firsts 28 - Tullamore 22
- Venue: Spollanstown on Sat Oct 7th 2023
- Competition: AIL Division 2C
The opening game of the 2023/24 AIL Division 2C season saw Galwegians start their season in style with a 28-22 win over Tullamore in Spollanstown. After relegation to 2C last season, Galwegians have set out their stall for promotion, securing the maximum five points in the league table.
The hosts were fierce competition, finishing 3rd in the division last season and only missing out on promotion through the playoffs. It would be Tullamore who received the first opportunity of the game to grab three points with an early penalty but went wide of the post.
Galwegians made them pay by grabbing the game's opening try just seven minutes in. The Blues played the ball out wide and Josh Munn out on the wing capitalised to score. Racing from the corner to go behind posts at the in-goal line, Munn ensured Tiernan Neville had a straightforward conversion to give the visitors a seven-point lead.
Tullamore put Galwegians under immense pressure following the opening try and seemed destined to score after a five-minute onslaught deep inside the Galwegians 22. But Galwegians held on brilliantly and kept Tullamore scoreless for most of the first half.
Instead, Wegians grabbed their second of the game with Liam Angermann once again scoring for the team. A rapid counter-attack from Galwegians saw them move towards the try-line and when the hosts conceded a penalty, a tap and go from Andrew Sherlock saw Angermann find the gap to go between the posts to score their second of the game. Neville once again scored the conversion to make it 14-0
Tullamore could still find no way through the impregnable Galwegians' goal-line defence but they did get their first points of the game just before half-time. Conor Dunne’s penalty meant they clawed back the deficit as the teams headed back to the dressing rooms with Galwegians winning 14-3.
Galwegians started the second period with a penalty but Neville couldn’t replicate his conversion form and missed out on three points. Tullamore went upfield and composed themselves to finally break through the defence with Barry Bracken scoring in the corner to close in on Galwegians' advantage. Dunne’s conversion made it 14-10.
However, Galwegians kept Tullamore out of reach after the hour mark with a tidy lineout maul leaving Shane Mallon to pounce on the opportunity to grab their third of the evening. Three perfect conversions for Neville put them 11 points in front.
Tullamore didn’t give up the comeback and retaliated with a score of their own, with Bracken scoring his second try of the game. With the try scored between the posts, the succeeding conversion made it game on with just minutes left to play. 21-17 with 15 to go.
Galwegians held their nerve and it was the captain Jack Winters who led by example to secure the bonus point for the Blues. An amazing carry saw him barge through the Tullamore defence and Neville’s conversion capped off the ideal start to the season for Galwegians.
Tullamore would grab one last try from Craig Cantwell with the clock almost in the red, but the Blues safely managed out the game to secure the vital win, meaning the hosts would have the losing bonus point. The final score was 28-22 to the visitors.
Galwegians promotion fight has begun with a bang and maximum points is the perfect scenario, as Galwegians head coach Brendan Guilfoyle explained how it was a gelling process getting this team prepared for the first game of the season.
“With pre-season, things were a bit up and down”, explained Guilfoyle. “We had players injured and out of the country, we were finding it hard to get our starting 15 out on the field. There was a bit of gelling to be done but it came together really well, I thought both backs and forwards played really well at times”.
“For me looking back at it now, there’s lots of positives and lots to work on. But if we can get the backs and forwards and the new players coming in singing off the same hymn sheet, I think we have a really solid team for the year”.
Galwegians will have their first home game of the AIL season in Crowley Park against Midleton on Saturday 14th October at 2.30 p.m.