- Result: Galwegians U16 29 - Corinthians 12
- Venue: Crowley Park on Sat Feb 18th 2017
- Competition: Connacht U16 League
Galwegians are the Connacht U16 League champions after an excellent Final played in great spirit against local rivals Corinthians in front of a very large crowd at Crowley Park on Saturday.
Playing with the aid of a slight first-half breeze, Galwegians started the better and they opened the scoring when impressive centre Conor O’Shaughnessy crossed for the game’s first try. Out-half Shane O’Donnell added the conversion to put his team 7-0 to the good. Although struggling initially in the scrum, the sky blues continued to hold the upper hand and midway through the half they doubled their advantage. It came following a pick and go from a ruck by prop Daragh Fox who managed to dive over the line near the corner flag, out-half Shane O’Donnell again converting a difficult touchline kick.
However Galwegians were not having things all their own way, and the visitors got right back into it when a well-worked maul saw prop Colm MacDonnacha emerging with the ball under the posts which was duly converted by Diarmuid Kilcommins. This reduced arrears to 14-7. The Blues responded well, and almost straight from the restart O’Donnell again displayed his proficiency with the boot, splitting the posts with a penalty to nudge his side 17-7 further in front. The Cloonacauneen men went in search of another score and they spurned an opportunity to kick at goal when they went for the corner approaching half-time, but some solid Galwegians defence kept their lineout maul at bay.
Corinthians started well in the second-half, using the wind to set up territory. Galwegians were playing a high-risk running game deep in their own 22, but they managed to soak up the pressure. The visitors were wide with a penalty attempt before the hosts claimed a killer on 40 minutes. It came following an excellent charge down by Niall Hanahoe who hacked on from own halfway, and the alert O’Shaughnessy was first to react to gather and race home to score a classic sucker punch try near the left-hand corner.
That score gave Galwegians a comfortable 22-7 margin. But Corinthians were far from done, and they showed great determination to once again work their way back into the contest. On 47 minutes they deservedly scored their second try, after some patient play and good hands sent substitute winger Dave McCarthy over in the right-hand corner.
This gave the visitors renewed hope, however it was to prove fleeting as right from the restart the Blues responded in the best possible manner. Some great footwork by Galwegians excellent full-back Daniel Reddan saw him make a searing break up-field, giving a deft pass to Jack Power, who then found the supporting Cosmin Andrian on his shoulder, and he powered over on the left for a fourth and decisive try. O’Donnell landed another excellent conversion from near the touchline to put the icing on the cake.
While they had a mountain to climb, Corinthians never gave up trying and they went on to dominate the rest of the game. Full-back Kilcommins was always a threat while his pack continued to pile on the pressure, inspired by some strong performances by back-row forwards Diarmuid McCormack and Eoin de Buitlear in particular. They laid siege to the Wegians line, winning a succession of penalties which led to two yellow cards in quick succession for the hosts. However despite having the two-man advantage, they simply could not find any way through some heroic Wegians defence, for whom substitute Shane Connolly was outstanding coming off the bench and giving a master class in defensive play.
The final whistle signaled jubilant scenes from the Galwegians players, coaches and supporters alike. Branch President Pat Piggott presented medals to both sides, before handing over the trophy to Wegians co-captains Conor O’Shaughnessy and Sean Nohilly.