Galwegians survive drop at Ballina's expense

It was incredibly close at the end, but Galwegians men's 1st XV survived by the skin of their teeth to avoid relegation as they edged out Connacht rivals Ballina by an aggregate score of just three points on Saturday.

Wegians came into this away game with a 15-point advantage from the first leg last, but Ballina showed they were a serious threat. As the Blues made a nervous start, conceding three early penalties in the first five minutes, the home side took their opportunity. Talented young outhalf Harry West kicked them deep into opposition territory, before the forwards punched holes and created the chance for winger Ian West to score the game's opening try, reducing the overall deficit to 10 points.

West continued to dictate affairs on the 4G pitch before Wegians received a reprieve when they were awarded a penalty near their 10m line, which was then brought closer to halfway by the referee following back chat from Ballina. This proved crucial as outhalf Morgan Codyre struck it perfectly with the slight wind advantage to extend the aggregate lead to 13 points.

However, when Wegians flanker Ben McGuinness was yellow carded, it forced his side on the defensive, and the home pack took advantage, creating space for winger Ian Quinn to dive over for their second try, with West converting to reduce the gap to six points.

The Wegians pack finally began to to impose themselves, and with some well executed kicking by fullback Rory Gaffney, Galwegians carved a real opportunity just before the break. Laying seige on the line, lock Niall Murray made a dart, but was held up under the posts to leave the score 12-3.

Both sides carved chances after the restart, but it was the host outfit that added three points with a West penalty to set up a tense finale with the worsening conditions.

However Wegians played the smarter rugby in the final quarter. Although against the elements, they showed some good ball retention with captain Kieran Downey, lock Eoin Tarmey, and the ubiquitous McGuinness leading the charge up front. Winger Darragh Kennedy made some crucial interventions with some excellent breaks out of defence to buy his side some much needed time and territory as they ran down the clock.

However, when they coughed up a late penalty, Ballina had one last chance. Ballina captain Luke Sweeney looked as if he had space in front of him when charging forward near the 22, but excellent cover defence and an ensuring penalty against Ballina ensured the Galway outfit prevailed, having done enough over the two legs to earn the right to remain in Division 2B next season.

Galwegians XV: R Gaffney, D Kennedy, D Kilgallen, R Deacy, C O'Shaughnessy, M Codyre, K Langan, C Kyne, C Reilly, D Vergar, N Murray, E Tarmey , B McGuinness, J Winters, K Downey (C ). Subs: N Lawless, S Ryan, M McColgan, A Abayom, K Palamarczuk, A Cunninghamn, D Sherlock, A Neary.


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