Galwegians head to Heffernan Park on Saturday for a crucial second leg relegation play-off in the Energia AIL Division 2B against Ballina.
Galwegians enjoy a 15-point lead after a 34-19 win in the first leg at Crowley Park, but with everything to play for, it should be a fascinating game.
A well-struck Morgan Codyre penalty got the Blues off the mark as early as the second minute in the first leg tie last Saturday in Crowley Parl. And when centre Diarmuid Kilgallen, with a well-read intercept on his 22, raced home unopposed for the game’s opening try, Codyre’s conversion put the home side ahead 10-0.
With the visitors rattled, Wegians added a second try on 11 minutes - their threatening backline causing damage before fullback Rory Gaffney cut through to score near the left - giving the home side a healthy 15 point early cushion.
A shell-shocked Ballina conceded a third try before the first quarter ended when tight head prop Finn Wright showed power and speed to burst through from the 10m line and shrug off the defence to score a third try under the posts, and Codyre’s conversion out the Blues 22-0 in front.
However Ballina rolled up their sleeves and dominated the second quarter. A line-out penalty just before the half-hour mark provided the platform, and following some hard yards by the forward pack, young winger Liam Golden crossed for an unconverted try.
The Mayo men continued to dominate, but it was not until the start of the second half they added to their score when hooker Billy McVann raced home from an intercept on halfway to score, with Darragh Whyte’s conversion closing the gap to 22-12.
This signalled a response from the home side, and it came via centre Rob Deacy who 30m out, rounded his man, to score the fourth try in the right corner - Codyre’s conversion sailing narrowly wide.
With the wind at their backs, Ballina dominated the rest of the third quarter, taking advantage when Wegians lost Wright to the sinbin. From a 5m scrum penalty No 8 Dan Molloy scored his side’s third try, with Whyte's conversion reducing the margin to eight.
Both sides had their chances to tag on more scores, but it was not until stoppage time Wegians delivered a decisive blow when the excellent Deacy made another line break, this time from halfway, and drawing fullback Whyte, he found the supporting Gaffney on his shoulder who took the scoring pass and dived over near the posts. Codyre’s conversion was the final act to give Wegians a crucial 15-point lead to take to Heffernan Park for the second leg this Saturday.
Galwegians: Rory Gaffney. Darragh Kennedy, Diarmuid Kilgallen, Rob Deacy, Conor O'Shaughnessy, Morgan Codyre, Kelvin Langan, Conor Kyne, Christy Reilly, Finn Wright, Niall Murray, Eoin Tarmey, Ben McGuinness, Jack Winters, Kieran Downey (capt ). Subs, Nicky Lawless, Conor Joyce, Mick McColgan, Abdulaq Abayomi, Kacper Palamarczuk, Brian McSweeney, Andrew Sherlock, Andy Neary.
Ballina RFC: Conor Mason, Billy McVann, Shane Clarke, Aiden McNulty, Andrew West, Fergal Tulley, Luke Sweeney, Dan Molloy, Niall Keane, Mickey Murphy, Cian Quinn, Alex Corduff, Callum Quinn, Liam Golden, Darragh Whyte, Mark Walker, Brian Boland, Evan Creavan, Conor Boyce, Alex Hennigan, Ronan Connelly, Niall Feeney.