Galwegians underdogs in Connacht derby

Galwegians, struggling since September to win a game, now face high-flying Buccaneers in Dubarry Park on Friday night,

Currently third from bottom of the Ulster Bank League, Galwegians, with just one win, must now take on their Connacht neighbours who lead the division 1B table having lost only one game.

It has been a frustrating start to the season for Galwegians who have amassed four losing bonus points and four try bonus points, but have left the winning points behind them. And last Saturday, for the third successive game, Galwegians suffered a heartbreaking defeat against visitors Ballymena. Having done all the hard work to regain the lead twice in the final quarter, they lost to an injury time penalty at Crowley Park, 34-35.

In windy conditions, Galwegians had made a dream start. Lock Marc Kelly squeezed over in the corner after the opening attack for the game’s first try, and from a break by full-back Aidan Moynihan, in-form centre Cormac Brennan grabbed try number two, which Mitch Lam converted for a 12-0 lead.

Ballymena outhalf Richie McMaster opened the visitors' account on 16 minutes, and as Wegians got on the wrong side of referee Eddie Hogan-O’Connell, who was starting to regularly penalise the Blues, McMaster launched a huge touch-finder to the corner. From a well-drilled lineout maul, Ballymena surged forward and were about to touch down when Hogan-O’Connell awarded a penalty try, and the easier conversion for McMaster was to prove significant to the outcome.

Wegians responded well and within four minutes they had restored a nine-point advantage - an excellent backline move finished by captain and centre Brian Murphy with Lam adding the extras to make it 19-10. However the penalties continued to mount with the tally reaching 12-2 in favour of the visitors at one point, while hooker John Moloney was binned on 37 minutes.

When flanker Ronan Moore was penalised, the Ulstermen went for the corner again, and this time hooker Adam McBurney was mauled over for their second try. McMaster landed the conversion, and moments later he added another penalty to put his side in front for the first time in the match at 20-19.

This signalled a remarkable final 30 minutes - the lead changing five times in the second half. The visitors seemed to strike a decisive blow in the 50th minute when centre Mark Best intercepted a pass on halfway and ran unopposed under the posts, giving his side an eight-point advantage.

However Wegians grabbed the initiative and from patient play in the Ballymena 22, winger Matthew Quinn crossed in the right corner on 53 minutes, with Lam’s conversion agonisingly rebounding back off the post.

The Blues then scored the try of the game in the 66th minute when a break from inside their own half saw Quinn again charge up the right flank, which ended with Moynihan finishing with some style. Lam’s tap-over had the Blues back in front again by a four-point margin.

The visitors, however, replied when winger Jonny Rosborough squeezed over in the left corner, but again Wegians grabbed the lead when Lam hit a superb penalty from the 10m line. However in one final act, a knock-on from the restart allowed Ballymena to once again use their superior pack, and from a scrum penalty McMaster duly obliged to see the visitors through.

GALWEGIANS : Aidan Moynihan; Matthew Quinn, Cormac Brennan, Brian Murphy (capt. ); Alan McMahon; Mitch Lam, Barry Lee; Jason East, John Moloney, Dominic Robertson McCoy, Anthony Ryan, Marc Kelly, Ronan Moore, Paul Hackett, Jack Dinneen.Replacements: Ja Naughton, Doron McHugh, Matthew Towey, Peadar O’Beirn,

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