Galwegians, fresh from overcoming Trinity in cup action, face another student outfit when UCC travel to Crowley Park for Saturday’s AIB League division 1B fixture.
If Galwegians are to have a realistic chance of topping the division, this is a game they must win. They will need to make home advantage count against a lively side that was promoted from division 2 last season.
However both clubs enter this third league fixture on the back of successful cup action over division 2 sides. While Galwegians overcome Dublin University, UCC enjoyed a 27 - 10 victory over Corinthians.
Although UCC have lost both opening games, their first fixture was against league pace-setters Old Belvedere, while they pushed Ballymena all the way in their 28 - 31 loss.
It should ensure Galwegians do not take anything for granted on Saturday. Although a better-balanced side this year with plenty of potency in attack, Galwegians have nearly been caught in their last two matches when losing concentration and their defensive alignment. They can ill afford to do so against UCC, but they certainly have the players to maintain their ascent on the league table.
Also in division 1B, Buccaneers, still without a win, face another difficult away assignment when they travel to Ballymena.
Corinthians are back on home soil and will be tested by Bective Rangers who have posted two wins over Malone and Old Crescent in division 2.
After a poor opening in division 3, Connemara are back on track following their 15 - 3 win over Ards. However forging a win in Belfast will be difficult against a Queens side that was a worthy winner over Banbridge before losing 25 - 19 to Midleton last time out.
Last weekend Galwegians was the only Galway club to advance to the next round of the AIB Cup when they were 27 - 17 winners over Trinity. And they will face another university side in the next round which takes place in two weeks’ time in Belfield, having been drawn away to UCD.
Galwegians can expect a much stiffer challenge from the division two pacesetters than Trinity posed last Saturday in Crowley Park, although the home side made hard work of the victory, having taken a 19 - 5 half time lead. Three tries in eight minutes set them up for this victory, but the Dublin University students pushed Galwegians all the way. Clawing their way back within seven points, a Galwegian try at the death put the issue beyond doubt.
In perfect conditions the home side enjoyed the advantage of the light breeze in the opening half, but it was their superiority up front that paved the way for this second successive cup victory.
The students opened the scoring, posting a 17th minute try when they caught the Galwegian cover napping, as centres Richard Brady and Conor Colclough and hooker Mark Murdoch stretched the defence out wide before left wing Colin Murphy had an easy stroll in.
Galwegians’ execution and ball handling skills let them down in the opening quarter, but they made it count when they produced their first sustained attack, winning a penalty which set up field position. When Trinity’s prop James Gethings was yellow carded, Galwegians opted for the scrum, and they pushed their way over with Liam Casserly claiming the touchdown. Fullback Mark Butler added the conversion, and within three minutes they had claimed their second when John Cleary was driven over after a break from centre Aifai Esera. A third try followed in the 34th minute when Jamie Stephens did well to finish after some strong running from Liam Bibo, John Cleary, and Dave Clark.
The match looked all but over at that stage. Galwegians created several scoring chances with both Ja Naughton and Bibo stopped just shy of the line, but the students hit back within 10 minutes of the restart following a quick tap penalty. Outhalf Joyce did the damage before sending flanker Alan Matthews clear, and with Joyce converting, Trinity had narrowed the gap to a single score. The students enjoyed a 10 minute period of domination but failed to add to their score and it was Bibo who once again demonstrated his speed in attack when he slipped through the defence to race in from 35m for try No 4 on 68 minutes. Still the students refused to bow and they retaliated when replacement hooker Kevin Butler scored off a good drive from a line-out. However Galwegians put paid to Trinity’s late surge when a Mark Butler penalty put the game out of reach.
Galwegians: M Butler; J Cleary, A Esera, D Clarke (sub Tiernan O'Halloran 55m ), L Bibo; R Shaughnessy, K Campbell (sub Ronan Dillon 40m ); J Naughton, C Muldoon, J Stephens (sub Ronan Loughney 40m ); D Boyd. B McClearn; A Conboy (sub Joe Moran,60m ), I Muldoon (capt ), L Casserly (sub Ross Fitzgerald 79m ).