- Result: Galwegians U13 Blue 17 - Connemara 14
- Venue: Corinthian Park on Sun Apr 15th 2012
- Competition: Connacht U13 Cup
The Galwegians u13 Blue squad faced off against Connemara in the U13 Connacht Plate final on Sunday 15th April at Corinthian Park. Conditions for the game were perfect with a dry sunny day and little or no wind, and with the main pitch at Corinthians in good condition, the scene was set for a great rugby occasion. A large crowd of parents and supporters of both teams turned up and this added to the general excitement.
Wegians Blues entered the game having had an excellent League campaign and a strong run through the plate competition and having seen off their White counterparts and South Sligo on their way to the final. Wegians had been playing a fast exciting brand of running rugby with a light but mobile pack and a very exciting backline. Connemara were something of an unknown quantity, as the two sides had not met in the Connacht u13 league, and while Connemara had shipped a few heavy defeats in the league, recent form had shown them to be improving quickly and they had very convincing wins in their shield quarter final and semi-final, scoring a lot of tries in the process.
Wegians started the game very well and were quickly into their stride, working the ball up field through the forwards and then giving the backs a run at the Connemara line. With Connemara having a very big and powerful set of forwards, it had been decided to move the ball quickly and to use the fast hands and feet of the backs to gain territory and create scores. The tactic paid off after 10 minutes when right wing Ruairi Breathnach scored far out after a good backline move. Outhalf Dylan Hamill was unable to nail the difficult conversion. Galwegians 5 Connemara 0.
Connemara were not put off by this setback and in the next few minutes demonstrated the level of their improvement. Having secured possession in their own half, the ball was worked quickly to their right winger who set off on an arching run along the right touchline, outstripped the surprised Wegians defenders and ran in under the posts for a very good opportunist try. The Connemara outhalf added the conversion to make it Galwegians 5 Connemara 7. Game on.
Wegians responded to this score very positively and with the forwards prepared to take on their much bigger opponents in the close in exchanges, worked the ball up field and gained a good foothold in the Connemara half.
The backline was also making good progress, but the final killer pass did not happen with the result that Wegians were unable to add further to the score-line. Nonetheless, Wegians were dealing comfortably with anything that Connemara threw at them and having realised that Connemara had a few danger-men in the back line, the Galwegians outside backs and back row did an excellent job of nullifying this attacking threat with really quick defensive line speed and some excellent cover tackling.
As half time drew closer, and with Connemara still leading, open side flanker Neil Mulcahy, who along with the rest of the forwards had been relishing the physical challenge of knocking over bigger opponents, decided to take matters into his own hands and from near the half way line set off on a run right through the heart of the Connemara team, handing off a number of tacklers, jinking past a few more and finally straightening to run in under the Connemara posts for a brilliant individual try. Outhalf Dylan Hamill added the conversion to make the half time scoreline Galwegians 12 Connemara 7.
Wegians made a couple of changes at halftime in both the forwards and backs and started the second half in very positive attacking mode. For the first part of the half, Wegians set up camp in the Connemara 22 and had a series of excellent attacking opportunities which could have lead to them taking a commanding lead. However, fate seemed to take a hand in proceedings with a hand injury to prop forward Johnathan Joyce forcing him to leave the field.
With substitute prop Conor Gillespie already on the field, this forced a change in the pack, with second row Jake Gallagher moving to the front row and Thomas Murray coming into the second row. This new formation found itself battering away at the Connemara line and a few close in penalties and scrums had Galwegians over the Connemara try line but the referee could not see the ball being grounded. Each time resulted in an attacking scrum, but the Connemara forwards were now more than holding their own against the new Galwegians scrum unit and eventually took a heel against the head and were able to clear their lines.
Having held their line against those repeated attacks, Connemara seemed to get renewed energy, and having won a line out, they kicked the ball long down field, and won a penalty when the retreating Wegians defence committed an infringement. The Connemara outhalf kicked the penalty to the corner, giving Connemara prime field position and the added benefit of the put in to the lineout. Wegians competed well at the lineout, but Connemara secured possession and then set about using their very big forward pack to drive the ball towards the Wegians line.
Again and again big Connemara front and back row forwards ran at the Wegians line, and they were held up and repelled a number of times. Eventually Connemara got over the line near the posts, and the outhalf added the straight forward conversion. Galwegians 12 Connemara 14. Seven minutes left.
Now it was a test of mettle for the Wegians youngsters, and following a very quick team conference, it was agreed that 'we've got to go back up there and get a score, lads'. And Wegians set about doing that. Over the next few minutes, they worked their way back up field, and into the Connemara half.
They were still moving the ball very well, and were getting closer and closer to the line. However, again the killer pass did not materialise. Then, with just a minute and a half remaining, and Galwegians in possession, a high tackle on flanker Neil Mulcahy lead to a penalty. The Wegians forwards took the ball forward and it was then spun along the backline and it looked like winger Aaron Mannion Edwards would score but he was held up.
In stepped centre Cian O'Toole to pick up the ball and snipe around the side and score in the corner to a great cheer from the Galwegians supporters. Dylan Hamill's conversion effort was just off target, but it did not matter. The final whistle sounded and Wegians had won a very tight and close victory. They had demonstrated great courage and resilience in never giving up right to the final whistle, and it was this that paid off for them in the end and won them the Connacht u13 Plate.