Connacht rivals Galwegians and Buccaneers meet for the first time in this season’s All Ireland League with more than just bragging rights at stake.
Both sides have had disappointing results in the opening three matches, and if Galwegians boast ambitions to finish top of this eight-team division 1B, then a victory at Dubarry Park on Saturday (2.30pm ) is crucial.
Currently both clubs are in the bottom half of the division with Galwegians just two points ahead of Buccaneers courtesy of two bonus points. The city side started the campaign well, but a lost opportunity against Ballynahinch and another defeat last weekend against UCC at Crowley Park has sent them on a downward slide. Buccaneers, with a poor start to the season, picked up their first win last weekend away to Ballymena. That victory will certainly have boosted their morale ahead of Saturday’s joust, and as always a highly competitive game is expected between the sides.
Elsewhere in AIB League action Corinthians entertain Old Crescent at home, and this presents the Cloonacauneen outfit with a real chance to consolidate their position in division 2 and move closer to the leaders. Old Crescent have yet to post a victory, while Corinthians, although in ninth place, are just seven points behind the pacesetters Lansdowne.
Perhaps the toughest challenge this weekend is in division three where Connemara, struggling in 13th place, are away to Instonians. The Belfast side is unbeaten to date, and this does not augur well for Connemara’s chances on Saturday.
The most surprising result at the weekend was Galwegians’ failure to put away the students from Cork who can from behind to claim a 19 - 11 victory at Crowley Park.
The students put Galwegians on the back foot from the start when prop Will O’Donovan scored a second minute try from a blockdown, and Galwegians’ only first-half response was a 15th minute penalty from Mark Butler to reduce arrears to 5-3 at the break.
However Galwegians upped the tempo in the second-half, and another penalty from Butler soon had them in front for the first time. Then with two UCC forwards in the bin, a 58th minute try from Liam Bibo put the home side 11-5 ahead. However Wegians failed to convert a host of chances when camped deep in UCC territory, and they paid the price. On 78 minutes UCC’s No 8 James Ryan finished off a lineout maul under the posts, and in stoppage time winger Brian Derham touched down in the corner. Two conversions from outhalf Andrew Burke denied Galwegians a consolation bonus point.
Corinthians were more successful across the city when they claimed their second successful win in division 2 when seeing off Bective Rangers by 18 - 11.
Bective Rangers, with the breeze in the opening half, led 11-3 at half time courtesy of two penalites from former Galwegian outhalf Cormac O’Beirne, while another city native, lock Mark Hennelly, claimed the Bective try.
Corinthians’ sole response in the opening half was a well struck penalty from Shane Mullaly, but it was only a matter of time before they would make possession count in the second half. Wayne Williams and Pat Cunnnigham paved the way for their first try six minutes into the second half, and a quick recycle sent Eoin Griffin in at the corner.
Mullally missed the conversion but levelled on 62 minutes with a peanlty. Despite dominating the second half, it was not until four minutes from time that Corinthians sealed the victory when scrumhalf Mike Roche scored under the posts following a line-out and drive.
Mullaly added the extras, but it took a gutsy defence to stop Bective in extra time before securing the points.