The Galway Tribesmen met the Dublin City Exiles at the Claddagh last Saturday in the Rugby League Republic of Ireland semi-final.
The Tribesmen kicked off and had the Exiles squeezed inside their own danger zone almost immediately as the visitors tried to work the ball upfield. Tough tackling from the Galway men resulted in a handover of possession and sustained pressure near the Exiles line gave big prop forward Enda Stanford an early try, and with the conversion added by Peter O’Neill, the score was 6-0 to the Tribesmen.
From the kick restart the Tribesmen attempted to build on the good start, but a handling error gave the Exiles possession who showed glimpses of what they were capable as they gained valuable field position. However, a knock on by the Exiles offered the Tribesmen a chance to capitalise, which they did with a fine break down the right-hand wing. The move was finished off by Eddie Weaver who crossed the line for 4 points. With the conversion added by O’Neill, the Tribesmen were 12-0 to the good after 10 minutes.
The scores galvanised the Exiles, and some clever interplay between the half backs gained them their first score after 15 minutes, with the conversion added to reduce the deficit to 12-6. The visitors doubled their score on 30 minutes to level, and they went in front minutes later when kicking a penalty in front of the posts after a high tackle. However just before the break the Tribesmen managed to add to their score through Peter O’Neill to retake the lead 18-14.
The Tribesmen were first off the mark after the break, demonstrating great enterprising play with Weaver crossing in for his second try after 45 minutes. Both teams gave everything, with Brian McDonagh and Nick Clark tireless in their efforts for the Galway men, but tenacious defence from the Dubliners thwarted every attempt. With just 15 minutes left on the clock, the visitors were back within two points after a cleverly worked try and conversion to set up a tense finish.
However, Galway nerves were settled when Aaron Byrne crashed over the line from close range to register four points, and O’Neill added the conversion to ensure victory.