Tribesmen will be triumphant

After an enthralling semi-final encounter against the Dublin City Exiles, the Galway Tribesmen have booked their place in the Republic of Ireland Rugby League final this weekend.

With the semi-final approaching the closing stages, the score was 24-24, and the Exiles had fought back against the Tribesmen's early lead.

A penalty was then awarded in the dying seconds, enter top points scorer Peter O'Neill who duly obliged, putting the Tribesmen up by two points.

With seconds on the clock, and the pressure mounting, the entire Tribesmen squad crashed across the line ensuring victory, and celebrations at the final whistle.

"It was a really good game to watch," said club secretary Thomas Hynes, "but it was one of the most nerve-racking games for all involved."

The win sets up a season finale against Longhorns RL, who had an easier time during their 30-16 semi final win over Athy Sharks.

But Galway have nothing to lose ahead of one of the biggest games in the club's short history.

"We are fairly confident, the team we are playing is Athboy's Longhorns, who stole a march on the league, but we are quietly confident," said Hynes.

"There is nothing to fear, and we are hopeful of a win."

During the season, the Longhorns went on a long winning streak, "and were the team to beat", until they arrived in Galway.

The Tribesmen managed an 18-16 victory over the table toppers, ending their unbeaten run, and shook up the run-in to the final few games in the process.

"To put that [win] in context, the Dublin City Exiles beat us twice so we have nothing to fear.

"There is a buzz about the camp this week."

One man who will be vitally important to the Tribesmen's efforts will be Andrew 'Mika' Atonio, the league's top try scorer this season with nine, and most likely to cause the Longhorns problems defensively.

"He has been instrumental both on and off the pitch, he is one of the older members of the squad so all the younger members look up to him," said Hynes.

"He is the one that we will look to for inspiration."

Established in 2011, Hynes feels that this is a huge achievement for the club - win or lose.

"It would be absolutely overwhelming [if we won]. We started the club five years ago, and it was driven by a desire to play rugby league in Galway.

"Whether we had the capacity or the players to do so was not important at the time.

"We just put the idea out there, and year on year, we have continually grown, which is a testament to the people's efforts over the last five years to be where we are today."

A win in the Republic of Ireland league final on Saturday will qualify the Tribesmen for a grand final which will see them pitched against a Northern Irish team, and another opportunity for silverware.

"At the minute, we have no reason to believe that we cannot be on that stage and compete."

Longhorns RL, however, are no spring chicken, and with three players inside the top 10 highest point scorers, and two more waiting in the wings to beat Atonio to rugby league's golden boot award, there is a lot to play for.

Galway Tribesmen v Athboy Longhorns RL will kick off at 2pm in Ashbourne RFC, Meath, this Saturday, July 30.

For more information about tickets and travel arrangements, search 'Galway Tribesmen' on Facebook.

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