The Tribesmen travelled to Athboy in Co Meath last Saturday to take on a mainly young team in what was perceived to be one the easier games of the league schedule. As the game developed though, it was obvious that this perception was wholly unjustified.
The Galway men kicked off deep into the Athboy half and immediately had the Meath men pinned inside their own 20 metres. A knock on by Athboy resulted in the Tribesmen gaining possession just short of the opposition goal line and Aaron Byrne crashed over from short range to give the Galway men their first score after just two minutes.
If the Tribesmen thought they had the measure of their opponents at this early stage, they were mistaken. The introduction of experienced campaigner Simon Deevy from the side-line for Athboy after the 10 minute mark, kick-started the home team efforts and they were rewarded when Deevy himself scored after being on the field just a couple of minutes.
As the game continued, the young Athboy team were tenacious in defence, thwarting every effort that the Galway team could throw at them. A number of errors by both teams meant that neither team was able to dominate and take control of the game. It was not until after 22 minutes that a break by Conor Loughrey allowed him to sneak in to double the Tribesmen score. However, within a couple of minutes, Deevy had touched down again at the other end to level the scores. After the restart, the Meath team kept up the pressure and registered another try not long after. The score was now 10-8 to Athboy. This was the first time that the Tribesmen had been behind in a game since round one and this realization prompted an improved performance for the remainder of the half with scores coming from Seosamh McDonagh, Sion Sandland, and James Junior Kennedy. A further score from Athboy put the half time score at 24-16 to the Galway men.
The second half saw the introduction of subs Dylan Neary and Terry Abayomi to the Tribesmen line up and this provided a temporary lift to the visitors' offensive play. However, they were still unable to ruffle a very resolute Athboy defence and uncustomary mistakes including a number of high tackles ultimately let the Tribesmen down.
It was not until around the 20th minute of the half, when a yellow card shown to an Athboy player for backchat to the referee, opened up a bit of space for the Tribesmen. They capitalized on this with a short range try from Roberto Tapia which was then followed by McDonagh claiming his second and third. The scores were now at 38-16 to the Tribesmen but Athboy were not finished yet. A concerted late rally added another 10 points to the home team's score and the game finished 38-26.
The Tribesmen left Meath knowing a huge improvement is needed if they are to be competing at the business end of the season. Their next test is another away trip next Saturday when they travel to Carlow to the newly formed Barracudas.