Galwegians were unable to make it four wins on the bounce when they came unstuck by runaway league leaders Malone by 32-17 at Crowley Park on Saturday.
Brian McClearn’s young charges put in a gutsy display, particularly in the second half, but they were fighting a losing battle, behind 21-3 at half-time.
Malone, with just one loss all season, and with a wind advantage, opened up an early 7-0 lead before Galwegians repied with a 12th minute Morgan Codyre penalty.
Despite missing some frontline players, especially up front, Wegians defended stoutly for the next 20 minutes. However after losing prop Conor Kyne early on, Wegians eventually conceded a penalty try and then lost prop Martin Fox to the sin bin.
The Ulstermen took advantage to add a third try for a 21-3 lead, and then added a fourth try within a minute of the resumption.
It looked particularly bleak for a youthful Wegians side, but they took the game to their opponents and were rewarded on 47 minutes when veteran fullback John Cleary barged over on the left for his first try since coming out of retirement, bringing his AIL career tally to 60 tries.
Codyre landed the conversion to reduce the gap to 26-10 before Malone added a penalty.
Galwegians battled gamely and in the 68th minute forward Matt Towey score his side’s second try, with Codyre’s conversion reducing the gap to 12 points.
After a yellow card was issued to Malone sub Tiarian Dillon and a second to Wegians’ Martin Fox, the visitors put the game beyond reach with a second penalty.
Next up for Wegians is a crucial away match at Blackrock on Saturday March 24. The Dubliners are just a single point behind the Blues in the league table, and a win for either side would go a long way to ensuring safety as the season nears its end.