- Result: Galwegians U17 20 - Waterpark 18
- Venue: Annacotty on Sat Mar 22nd 2014
- Competition: AIL U17 Cup
Galwegians Under 17s secured a place in the All-Ireland Final when they overcame Munster champions Waterpark by 20 points to 18 in an absorbing contest played in difficult conditions in Limerick on Saturday last. Playing with the aid of a stiff breeze in the first half, Wegians started nervously and struggled to assert their game. However they soon found their rhythm and the opening score came after 10 minutes when a good passage of possession and interplay between backs and forwards brought play deep into the Waterpark 22, and swift hands put winger Fiachra Griffin over on the right for a try.
This was converted by out-half Morgan Codyre, and it got even better for the young Blues when they doubled the lead straight from the restart. A blistering run by left wing Cian Healy saw him skin his opposite number and the trailing defence, before neatly offloading to the supporting Ryan Hunt who crossed under the posts for an excellent second try. An easy conversion by Codyre made it 14-0.
However Waterpark aren’t Munster champions for nothing, and they responded to the early double whammy with some good pressure which yielded a penalty which was converted by their outhalf to reduce the margin to 14-3. Then minutes later some complacency and a lapse in concentration cost Wegians dearly when clumsy defending gifted the Waterford side an easy try, further eroding the lead to14-8 at the break.
This was a poor return for Wegians after their dominance, and the second half kicked off with the elements and momentum behind Waterpark. They soon narrowed the gap to just three points when a handling infringement by the Blues coughed up a simple penalty, and at 14-11 it was now very much game on. Wegians needed to raise their game and the pack responded. A series of pick and drives forced Waterpark offside under their own posts and Codyre easily slotted it for a 17-11 advantage.
Despite some scrummaging pressure from the heavier Waterpark eight, Wegians admirably kept possession and in a key play with 10 minutes remaining, the Munstermen drifted offside to concede another penalty. The crucial kick was fully 25 metres out into a stiff breeze, and Codyre showed his mettle by nailing it to give his side a crucial 9-point cushion entering the final stages of the contest. Inevitably Waterpark threw everything at Wegians in the final few minutes and pinned them in their 22. However Wegians refused to crack with resolute defence forcing turnovers at both scrum and lineout time, and the siege was lifted through clearance kicks by substitute out-half Paul Butler.
In the very last play Waterpark eventually put it together and got over out wide for a consolation score which was converted. But it was too little too late, as the final whistle blew to signal huge celebrations in the Galwegians camp. After a titanic battle, Wegians had prevailed and now hope to emulate the class of 2011 and bring the All-Ireland back to Crowley Park when they take on Skerries on Saturday April 5 in Naas.
Micheal Prendergast: Fiachra Griffin, Ryan Hunt, Paul Butler, Cian Healy; Morgan Codyre, Rory Gaffney; Edward Martin, Malcolm Hanley, Karl Burke; Shane Casserly, Feargal Dooley; Darrog Smith, Cian Hornibrook, James Brogan.
Josh Hays for Darrog Smith, William Finnerty for Micheal Prendergast, Jonah Culligan for Cian Healy, Adam Hession for Ryan Hunt, Mark Lambert for Shane Casserly, Dumitru Lapti for Karl Burke, Abdul-Haq Abayoni for Edward Martin.