Galwegians left it late, but produced a bonus-point 37-18 victory against UL Bohs on Saturday to guarantee their place in the Ulster Bank League’s division 1b next season. And with Buccaneers in a play-off for division 1A, it ensures the province has two teams in the top echelon next season.
Connacht coach and former Galwegian outhalf Eric Elwood says it is vital the province has strong representation in the first divsion.
“It is very importantto have an indentity in division one and for all aspiring youngsters.”
Several up-and-coming youngsters were on show on Saturday in their final match of the season. And Galwegians, perhaps with the greater need and with the momentum of three wins on the trot, completed their season in style - bagging four tries. Connacht winger Liam Bibo scored a hat-trick, while young outhalf Tadhg Leader contributed 17 points with a superb goal-kicking display.
The home side got off to a flyer when Bibo crossed in the left corner within minutes after Darragh Fanning collected Leader’s well judged cross-field kick. The outhalf added the touchline conversion before exchanging penalties with Bohs’ JJ Hanrahan, but the Limerick outfit grabbed a try to level after 20 minutes.
Leader was again on target with a difficult kick before the home side scored an opportunist try. Centre Brian Murphy capitalised on loose ball to race through unopposed, and Leader’s conversion put the home side 20 - 10 in front.
However when Hanrahan pulled back a penalty after fellow Ireland u-20 player Tiernan O'Halloran was yellow carded for a deliberate knock on, Galwegians’ lead, with the first-half wind advantage, did not look sufficient. Although Leader struck a long penalty before the break, Bohs’ winger Cian Aherne capitalised within minutes of the restart to grab his second, narrowing the gap to five.
However it was the home side’s greater determination that proved critical, and allied to a strong set piece and pace out wide, the home side wrested control for long periods. Galwegians captain John Cleary set up Bibo for his second touchdown with a run from inside his own half, aided by No 8 Dermot Murphy, and when Leader added the extras for a 30-18 advantage, UL’s confidence waned. Fanning sealed the victory when he sliced open the visitors' defence and Bibo, in support, completed his hat-trick.
Galwegians: T O’Halloran; L Bibo, J Cleary (capt ), B Murphy, D Fanning; T Leader, B Lee (sub, R Dillon ); Ja Naughton (sub, J East ), C Muldoon, J Stephens; D Nolan, B McClearn; L Scahill (sub, J Perrott ), I Muldoon, D Murphy (sub, D O’Hara ).