Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

Men’s Firsts 31 – Tullamore 12


Match Result

  • Result: Galwegians Firsts 31 - Tullamore 12
  • Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Apr 6th 2024
  • Competition: AIL Division 2C

Match Report

In the final round of the AIL Division 2C season, Galwegians defeated Tullamore 31-12 as they look forward to a play-off semi-final in a week’s time.

Galwegians came into this weekend with a slim chance of snatching the championship from Clogher Valley, requiring their rivals to lose against Ballina and to have a 54-point swing between the two sides.

Three changes were made to the starting XV that defeated Midleton with Hugo Gens coming into the second row, Dylan starting at flanker ahead of Jesse Va’asfusuaga, and Jack Quinn getting another AIL start at number eight.

Under the backdrop of Storm Kathleen, conditions meant playing conditions were challenging for the players, demonstrated in the opening minutes as the ball went dead immediately.

Playing with the wind on their backs meant Wegians had to take advantage and grab plenty of scores in the first half.

Galwegians hit the front just 12 minutes in, as Ryan Smith hit double digits for the season with yet another trademark lineout maul try. Tiarnan Neville’s kicks finally hit the mark and his kick just stayed in touch to win the lineout. Their maul was too strong for Tullamore and Ryan got himself over once again. Neville’s conversion just hit the post.

A second try quickly followed as the Blues completed a great team move. The backs made some great carries with Oisin McKey skipping past to push towards the 22. Playing it wide to the right saw them expose Tullamore’s width with Josh Munn just a metre short from the try. Transitioning out to the left again saw Darragh Kennedy complete the move to score their second of the afternoon as Neville kicked it between the posts for 12-0.

Tullamore struggled to make significant territory with the wind, opting to tap and go for penalties with kicking impossible with the gusts. Galwegians’ kicks were beginning to go dead which gave Tullamore some incentive to push forward. Soon enough, Tullamore would grab their opening try with some patient play enabling them to cross over on the right with Colm Hefferman credited for the try.

Tullamore were threatening for a second and were playing the better rugby in spite of the unfavourable conditions. Galwegians were not capitalising on the wind, but their defence prevented another score for the remainder of the half.

Eventually, they worked themselves back into a scoring position with some intuition from Andrew Sherlock grabbing their third. Another good lineout routine caught out Tullamore who was penalised for being offside. Sherlock went alone with the tap-and-go and took the defence by surprise to score. Another well-hit conversion increased their advantage to 19-5.

With the wind now against the Blues, it looked like they may struggle to increase their tally with Tullamore now threatening inside their 22. But the Blues would turn the ball over and score arguably one of the tries of the season by going coast to coast. After winning possession inside their 22, Josh Munn broke away and found Neville on his hand who began moving towards the 22. Tullamore started to recompose and hold them out before Garyn Daniel finished like a centre and broke away in the 22 to cap off a brilliant score.

Many chances went a begging for Galwegians in the second half with handing errors costing them tries on more than one occasion. But Oisin McKey finally got something for their efforts with a try in the corner to wrap up the win late on. James Deacy took over kicking duties but the wind only intensified and the conversion was in vain.

The rain began to hammer down on Crowley Park but Tullamore didn’t let that affect them with a late try towards the end. Galwegians found themselves running backwards with the wind causing some misplaced passed and Tullamore pushed them back to their own 22. Turning the ball over just a metres away allowed them to scramble over with Scott Milne claiming the try and Karl Dunne off the tee for a final score of 31-12.

Clogher Valley’s win over Ballina secured the Division 2C title with Galwegians settling for second, but they will have their chance at promotion with their semi-final in next week's clash against Bruff.

Head coach Brendan Guilfoyle reflected on the season as a whole and the play-offs next week:

“It’s been a tough couple of years for Galwegians and our goal this year was to stop the rot, we could put a bit of confidence into this group of players and build on it”.

“The goal went from stopping the rot to getting top four as we knew we had a squad good enough to get top four. From Christmas we had a couple of ups and downs, I think second place is what we deserve, it’s a fair standing for ourselves”.

“Bruff definitely frustrated us this year with the way we let Bruff get back into the game on two occasions. I do think that in the last few weeks that this team has really cemented themselves as a team, there are some combinations out on the pitch that are gelling well”.

“Bruff will be a huge task but we go into this game with huge confidence. The rugby we played over the last few weeks and even today, you see some of the tries in gale force wind, the lads know each other and they enjoy playing together”.

Galwegians will take on Bruff on Saturday, April 20 in Crowley Park for the promotion play-off semi-final, kick-off at 2.30pm.

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