- Result: Galwegians Seconds 23 - Loughrea 11
- Venue: Sportsground on Sun Apr 1st 2012
- Competition: Connacht Junior Cup
Galwegians secured the Heineken Junior Cup for the first time since 2008 with a hard fought victory over a determined Loughrea side at a packed Sportsground on Sunday.
It was a perfect day for rugby with the sun shining and a nice cool breeze to take the heat out of day. Loughrea brought massive support while Galwegians had a fair share of supporters also in a crowd of over 1500.
Loughrea came out with all guns blazing and had the young Wegians side under immense pressure early on. The sky blues weathered the storm well with some tough tackling and on their first foray into the Loughrea half earned a penalty which centre Dave Clarke coolly converted. 3-0.
Wegians now had the momentum and were back on the attack with some slashing line breaks from the backs. The forwards rumbled towards the goal line and had earned a penalty advantage when Clarke dropped back into the pocket and hit a tremendous drop goal to stretch their lead. 6-0.
From the kickoff Loughrea forced a mistake from Wegians and from the ensuing scrum got a penalty in a kickable position but the kick from Stephen Creaven was pulled left and Wegians kept their 6 point advantage.
Loughrea were forced into defensive mode as Wegians went back on the attack and with another penalty advantage available, outhalf Ross Shaughnessy hit a wounded duck of a drop-goal that spluttered through the posts. 9-0
Wegians were dominating the match at this stage, the forwards were repelling the bigger Loughrea side in defense while numerous line breaks from the backs were keeping the sky blues in the right areas of the field. Clarke coveted another penalty to emphasize this domination on the score board. 12-0.
Loughrea were not to be cowed and got themselves on the scoreboard with a penalty from Creaven just before half-time. Clarke pulled a penalty attempt right on half time as Wegians to stretch their lead. 12-3 HT.
The Div 1B champions started the second half with their best spell of rugby and fashioned a score that was worthy of the occasion when after some excellent work from the pack the ball was put through the hands for full back Darren Griffin burned down the sideline to beat the cover and score in the corner. Game on. 12-8.
Wegians brought on fresh legs in the shape of Ronan Moore and a break from the substitute winger brought Wegians back into the red zone where they forced another penalty out of the east Galway team which Clarke duly popped over the bar. 15-8.
Loughrea showed why they are division 1B champions as they came roaring back, with their vociferous support cheering them on, and after some excellent work from their pack earned another penalty for Creaven to slot.15-11.
Wegians sent more fresh legs onto the field and it appeared to re-invigorate them as they once again started to dominate possession and territory. Clarke slotted another penalty to give them a 7 point lead, but the game was still in the balance. 18-11.
The tension was palpable and the noise from both sets of supporters was intensifying as the game entered its final stages and both sides tried to establish field position.
The decisive score came with 7 minutes remaining. Wegians had a scrum just inside the Loughrea half, they tweaked it to the blindside, Ross Fitzgerald picked from the base and made 10 yards, he drew the defender and fed full back Ronan Burke who steamed down the wing, he chipped ahead from just outside the 22 and chased the kick along with a phalanx of Wegians backs and forwards. Loughrea gathered the ball just short of the try line but the marauding sky blues players came hammering into the hapless defender and force the ball loose, the alert Ronan Moore pounced on the ball to score in the corner. 23-11.
Loughrea did all they could to get back on the scoreboard but Wegians defense held firm and the celebrations when the final whistle went were as energetic as would be expected from a side whose average age is a little over 21. 23-11 Full time.