David Clarke’s fine drop goal in the heavy fog at Crowley Park saw Galwegians secure a narrow 12-11 victory over their Connacht rivals Buccaneers on Saturday. Most games between Connacht’s leading two sides are keenly contested, but there will hardly be a closer affair with a more dramatic finish than this encounter. And although the quality was not always top drawer at times in a game littered with mistakes, it was a tense nail-biting affair which had both sets of supporters living on their nerves right up to the very last second. This match was preceded by a minute’s silence to mark the recent passing of the late Bobby Deacy, Galwegians’ trustee and ex-president of the IRFU. The game itself was played in dense fog, which made visibility difficult for both teams, but it was the visitors who started much the brighter.
Conor Lavelle’s first half try had given the visitors the edge in the first half. It was a well taken score made by Brian Tuohy, and combined with an earlier penalty from JH Potgeiter had the midlanders 8-0 ahead on the half hour mark.
Galwegians struck back before half time with two Rob O’Beirn penalties, and 10 minutes after the break they edged in front thanks once again to the boot of O’Beirn. A scrappy contest came to life in a frantic last quarter where Buccaneers dominated for long periods attempting to overturn a one point deficit. John O’Brien was held up over the line not long before Kennedy delivered with the boot on 81 minutes to seemingly secure a vital victory for relegation threatened Buccaneers. Galwegians still had a couple of minutes in hand however, and used them well, confidently kicking a penalty to the corner, and first going in search of a try before setting up their Ballina born centre Clarke for a brilliantly taken drop goal with the last kick of the game under intense pressure. Ambrose Conboy, Ivan Muldoon, and Jamie Stephens all excelled for the home side in the pack. Throughout the second half the sky blues’ defence withstood a huge amount of pressure.
For Buccaneers up front Padraig Burke and Colin Watters were among those to stand out while Adam Kennedy impressed at scrum half. Buccaneers are on the road again next weekend for a clash with league leaders Old Belvedere while Galwegians are at home to Ballynahinch.
Across town Corinthians were off form as they succumbed to relegation threatened Highfield, 6-3 in a poor affair. The young home side have had it tough so far this year having also failed to deliver their best away to Malone in the previous round where they lost 21-10.
A quick change in fortune will be needed and another vital home game against a side below them awaits this weekend when Clonakilty pay a visit to Corinthian Park. Corinthians are currently safe in mid-table but do not want to be dragged back into the battle at the bottom. Connemara were in better form as they secured a vital 18-3 away win at Portadown. The centre partnership of David Newman and Mark Foyle has known many bright days in AIB League rugby and they each produced a try in a huge win. Promotion chasing Banbridge visit Clifden this weekend.