- Result: Galwegians Firsts 43 - Omagh Academicals 8
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Jan 20th 2024
- Competition: AIL Division 2C
Galwegians get their biggest win of the season with a 43-8 win over Omagh Academicals after a dominant second-half performance from the Blues. Coming back from behind in the first half, six second-half tries ensured they consolidated their place at the top of the division with another vital bonus point win at home in Crowley Park.
Three changes were made to the Galwegians side that beat Ballina last time round as Darragh Kennedy returned at full-back as Cody Farrell accompanied Cian Brady at centre. Dylan Keane returned at openside flanker, allowing Jesse Va’asfusuaga to shift to the number eight role.
It was Galwegians who made the first visit into the opposition's 22 and nearly got an early try with Oisin Halpin but were just held up at the line. Omagh responded to their early pressure by winning a penalty 15 minutes in, which was dispatched by Scott Elliot to give the visitors a three-point lead.
Their lead would last only for three minutes however as Ryan Smith hauled himself over for the first of the afternoon. Winning a line-out just five metres out, Ryan joined the maul, powering themselves over to hit the front. A tight angle for Tiarnan Neville meant the conversion sailed wide to keep the visitors in touch at 5-3.
The game remained at a stalemate for most of the first half until Omagh struck back with a try of their own in the 36th minute. Distributing the ball out wide from a lineout outside the 22, Galwegians were exposed on the left and Ryan Mitchell found Ali Beckett on his left who broke past the backline to score in the corner. The underdogs found themselves 8-5 up at halftime.
Galwegians found themselves in the same situation in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, losing at half-time. Wegians needed another win to apply the pressure on the teams below fighting for the Division 2C title.
Galwegians had two 5-metre lineouts minutes into the second half but were just overshot and more chances went a begging. Thankfully for the Blues, the third time was the charm as Ryan Smith scored his second of the game in a carbon copy of the first try, winning the lineout and mauling over the line. Tiarnan got his first conversion of the afternoon to give Wegians a 12-8 lead.
The hosts were now beginning to take their opportunities and the floodgates started to open in the 54th minute as Oisin McKey grabbed his first try of the afternoon. A super break from Garyn Daniel gained significant territory for the Blues. A few phases followed and the ball was played wide to McKey who skipped past two Omagh players to finish in the corner. A corker from Neville gave Wegians a 19-8 lead.
Darragh Kennedy was next to add to Galwegians' tally and secure the bonus point. A clever dummy play got Kennedy in position for the try and was just a metre short in the corner. The Blues composed themselves and Andrew Sherlock sprung the ball to Kennedy once again and finished the job at the corner flag to be leading comfortably.
Oisin McKey grabbed his second in quick succession as Galwegians were now in full flow. Once again spreading the ball out to the wingers, McKey burst through with an injection of pace to fly by the Omagh defence for another fantastic finish, dancing past the tackles of four Omagh players. Neville converted to make it 31-8.
Cian Brady continued to increase the scoring for the Blues as Omagh was now overwhelmed by the backs. Winning a scrum on the border of the 22, Neville linked up with the centre and a snappy pass to Brady caught Omagh off guard and ran into acres of free space and touched down for Galwegians’ sixth of the afternoon. Another conversion off the tee from Neville gave Wegians a thirty-point lead.
Not long after scoring his first senior AIL last time round, substitute Ryan Roche scored his second try in two weeks to cap off an excellent second-half performance for the Blues. Turning over the ball inside the 22, Sherlock passed to Neville, who launched a crossfield kick to the corner which bounced to Roache and touched down to make it 43-8.
Another victory for Galwegians ensures they stay in first place for another week, With the blockbuster game against Clogher Valley next weekend, their championship hopes could be in jeopardy without a win this weekend.
Head coach Brendan Guilfoyle is looking forward to the challenge ahead of Wegians and is confident that they can get the job done next weekend.
“We know there’s a lot of talk about them in the division in terms of all the supporters they have. I feel very much from the game down here that we should have beaten them. It was probably more of a mental thing that we let the idea of them being unbeaten get to us a little bit”.
“I think we have more than enough firepower to go to Clogher Valley and win. It will be tough, no doubt about it, no complacency about it. If we play to the best of our abilities, we can stay on top of the table this time next week”.