Galwegians and Buccaneers renew rivalries tomorrow evening in Dubarry Park when they square up in the Ulster Bank League division 1 fixture.
The game, which takes place under lights, will also double as the final of the Connacht Senior Cup with the winners taking on Garryowen in the All Ireland Bateman Cup semi-final.
Buccaneers enter the match as strong favourites. Not only do they enjoy home advantage, but their form is far superior this season. With six wins from eight (more than any other team in division 1b ), they are third in the table behind Ballynahinch and Ballymena who boast superior try bonus points. Galwegians have three wins this season - all coming before Christmas in a fine run of form that was abruptly halted on Saturday. Despite a 22 - 3 lead and a glorious opportunity to secure their fourth successive victory in the Ulster Bank League, they lost to UL Bohs on Saturday by 24 - 22.
After both sides sides traded early penalties through Ireland u-21 rivals Tadhg Leader and JJ Hanrahan, Galwegians took over, dismantled their opponents in the scrum which resulted in a 12th minute penalty try.
Leader landed the conversion before launching a cross-kick that was fielded by fullback John Cleary near the visitors’ try line. However he managed to offload to centre Colin Conroy who darted over near the right-hand corner for his first try of the season. Five minutes later Galwegians had their third try when Cleary was fed possession inside the opposition half, and left the Bohs’ defence for dead.
Leader’s conversion put the Blues 19 points clear and, with their pack dominating proceedings and the backs looking dangerous, a bonus point win looked only a matter of time. However the visitors refused to bow and, after Hanrahan struck two quick penalties, Bohs ended the opening half in the ascendancy, almost scoring a try before the half-time whistle, only to knock-on near the line.
Inexplicably Galwegians imploded in the second half while Bohs resumed where they left off, reducing the arrears to 22-12 when Wegians’ flanker TJ Anderson was binned for persistent fouling.
The visitors, with the momentum, scored the next try in controversial circumstances when it appeared replacement fullback Ben Martin had been held up over the line by Barry Lee. The referee, however, changed his mind after consulting with his assistant, and Hanrahan’s conversion closed the deficit to 22-19.
With Wegians failing to get any foothold in the second half, it was no surprise Bohs scored their second try and took the lead for the first time on 67 minutes when hooker Sean Henry scored in the right-hand corner. A shell-shocked Blues never recovered.
Galwegians: J Cleary; P Finn, C Conroy, B Murphy; B Lee; T Leader, D Moore; J East, C Muldoon, J Stephens; E Tarmey, B McClearn; TJ Anderson, I Muldoon, D Murphy. Replacements, J Naughton, I O’Grady, D O’Hara, D Clarke, R Shaughnessy.