Towards a century at the heart of Connacht rugby

Men’s Firsts 40 – Bruff 17


Match Result

  • Result: Galwegians Firsts 40 - Bruff 17
  • Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Apr 20th 2024
  • Competition: AIL Division 2C

Match Report

Galwegians are through to the Division 2B/2C Play-off Final with an emphatic performance over Bruff RFC, winning 40-17 in Crowley Park. After two losses and a draw in the previous three games between the two sides, including last year’s play-off semi-final that saw Galwegians relegated, they finally settled the score in Glenina.

Galwegians made three changes to the squad that defeated Tullamore two weeks ago. Rob Holian returned to the second row, Jesse Va’asfusuaga came in at flanker with Liam Angermann resuming duties at number eight.

Perfect playing conditions were the backdrop for this crucial game for promotion with both sides eager to ensure their ascendancy up the AIL pyramid. Fans from both sides turned up in their numbers with a sparkling atmosphere in Crowley Park.

Bruff got up and running with an early penalty just three minutes in.  Paul Collin’s kick went the distance from forty metres out and took an early lead as the visitors went 3-0 up.

Their lead would disappear in a matter of minutes as Josh Munn scored in the corner to get the ball rolling for the Blues. Early signs of Bruff’s indiscipline started creeping in and Galwegians were given an advantage inside the opposition 22. Tiarnan Neville spun the ball out to the right and found Munn in position to touch down and take the lead. Neville’s subsequent conversion went wide so it remained a two-point game.

Bruff showed some fight in the first half as they began pressuring the Galwegians' defence. They came close to scoring with Shane Duggan in the corner but a last-ditch tackle from Oisin McKey meant the hosts kept their narrow lead.

Neville stretched their advantage with Galwegians’ first penalty kick on goal and made it 8-3. But Bruff continued to apply the pressure and got their reward with Ethan Anderson crossing over to take the lead as Collins secured the extras with the conversion. Collins had the chance to extend by another three points with a penalty at the thirty-minute mark but it went to the right and wide.

Galwegians would hit the front with another penalty kick from Neville with the margin just a single point. The Blues’ lineouts were proving fruitful and began storming towards the 22 once again. Galwegians’ perseverance paid off and they scored from yet another lineout maul with Ryan Smith again scoring the try, his eleventh of the season. There wasn’t much separating the two sides into half-time but Galwegians led 16-10 at the break.

It was all Galwegians in the beginning of the second half and the Blues got an early penalty which gave them a nine-point buffer to begin the half. Both sides had now eight substitutes to choose from for the playoffs which both sides began to deploy. Galwegians’ attacking threats started coming from the bench as Shane Mallon and Under-20s Irish player Finn Tracey entered the fray.

The floodgates began to open for the hosts by scoring their opening try of the second half. Playing the ball through the hands saw the wingers make some strong carries and find themselves ten metres away from the Bruff try line. The forwards began their drive for the line and found themselves right in front of the posts. Their patience was finally rewarded as Andrew Sherlock played a long pass out to Shane Mallon in the corner to score the try. Neville’s long-range conversion made the distance and Galwegians increased their lead to 26-10.

Galwegians’ confidence started growing and soon enough Mallon got his second of the afternoon. Once again choosing to play out wide, Darragh Kennedy initiated a one-two with Mallon and left his teammate in acres of space to cross the whitewash to score try number four and lead by 23 points.

Galwegians had been beaten by Bruff after being up by a similar margin earlier in the season so they knew composure would be key. But Galwegians kept their heads and before entering the final quarter, they sealed the game with try number five, this time it was Kennedy claiming the spoils. Winning a scrum inside the 22, they launched their attack with captain Jack Winters just repelled at the line. Neville played a perfectly weighted pass to Kennedy on the left and scored the try, booking their place in the final. Neville made it three conversions in succession to make it 40-10.

With Galwegians having a comfortable cushion, the game began to slow down allowing the home side to control the game at their own pace. Bruff had more possession but only had a late consolation try for the efforts. With the scrum deep inside Galwegians' half, Bruff began the pick-and-go charge from their forwards. Once they got close, they transitioned wide to the backs and it was Andrew O’Byrne who made the line break to get the final try of the game as Collins racked up the two bonus points from the conversion.

It was pure elation for Galwegians who finally got vengeance after the events of 12 months ago and will head to Cork this Saturday for a 2B/2C promotion/relegation final against Dolphin, who defeated Enniscorthy in the other semi-final.

Assistant coach Shane O’Brien spoke about the team's performance after finally getting the long-coveted win over Bruff and the upcoming final:

“It’s incredibly satisfying to beat them today on an important day with it being the semi-final. Very different picture compared to last year, where today we were playing in 15-degree heat and nice firm ground which suited us”.

“I thought that the way we played, with the backs especially, we were hard to play against. Overall we’re absolutely delighted and we move on to next week's game”.

“I know for a fact that they (Dolphin) will be really up for it, they are a proud club, a big club. Being where they are in the league won’t sit well with them, it will be a tough game”.

Galwegians face Dolphin in Virgin Media Park this Saturday, kick-off at 2.30 p.m.


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

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