Galway Tribesmen 30
Dublin City Exiles 24
The Tribesmen were the eventual winners against perennial title challengers, The Dublin City Exiles, in a pulsating, nail biting contest in Ashbourne Rugby Club last Saturday. A defeat would have meant an abrupt end to the 2016 campaign but victory enables the Tribesmen to extend their season by at least one more game in a mouth watering clash against the Athboy Longhorns next Saturday in the Republic of Ireland final.
The game began with the typical fiery challenges between both sets of forwards with Andrew Atonio and Sean O’Gorman making the hard yards for the Tribesmen. The first penalty of the game occurred as early as the fourth minute, awarded to the Tribesmen. However, the men from the west failed to capitalize on any advantage and the first try came from the Exiles on the 13th minute. With the conversion missed, the Exiles led by four points.
This lead did not last for long though, with Jacob Spargo striking back on the 18th minute for the Tribesmen and with the conversion secured by the reliable boot of Peter O’Neill, the Tribesmen were ahead by six points to four.
Around the 20 minute mark the Tribesmen made a couple of key substitutions introducing Patrick Curran and Jason East, both of whom made a massive impact, particularly the big prop forward East who made a 40 metre dash up the touchline brushing aside any obstacles in his way.
The Tribesmen further extended their lead on the 22nd minute through Colm Neary, which was once again converted by O’Neill. At this stage the Galway men had a lead of 12-4.
The rest of the first half saw a period of dominance by the Exiles who crossed the white wash three times without any reply and with two conversions secured this gave them a lead of 20-12.
The Exiles were further boosted by two yellow cards shown to the Tribesmen in quick succession, firstly to Conor Mackey for a shoulder charge and the second being shown to O’Neill for holding down in the tackle. This meant that the Tribesmen were down to 11 men as the half time break approached and it was against the odds that fullback Eathon Maloney scored for the Tribesmen in the dying seconds of the half, and with the two points from the resulting conversion, the scores at half time was 20-18 to the Exiles
As play resumed for the second half, the Exiles should have made their numerical advantage count as the two Tribesmen in the sin bin waited to rejoin the action, but the Galway men managed to hang on and avoid conceding during this period. With the full complement restored, the Tribesmen pressed on and scored again with Moloney registering his second try. O’Neill nailed the conversion to give the Tribesmen a lead of 24-20.
With a place in the final at stake, both teams tried everything in their respective repertoires to gain the ascendancy, and it was the Exiles who struck next with a try out wide. With the conversion missed this put the scores at 24 points each.
The deadline was broken with just two minutes left on the clock, when the Exiles conceded a penalty in a kickable position. O’Neill kept his nerve to slot over the kick to give to the Tribesmen a two point lead.
The advantage was further cemented when Mackey crashed over from close range in the last minute of the game to give the Tribesmen a six point lead. This made the score 30-24 to the Tribesmen and that was how it finished.
The Tribesmen now sail forward into unchartered waters next Saturday when they take on Athboy Longhorns in the Republic Of Ireland final. Should they be successful in this challenge, they will then take on the best that Northern Ireland has to offer in the All Ireland final in Bray, Co Wicklow, the following week.
Kick off on Saturday for the Republic Of Ireland final is at 2pm at Ashbourne Rugby Club, Co Meath.