Galwegians claimed this season’s Heineken Junior Cup with a hard-fought 23 - 11 victory over a determined Loughrea at a packed Sportsground on Sunday.
As expected Loughrea came out with all guns blazing and had the young Wegian side under immense pressure early on. However Wegians weathered the storm with some tough tackling and on their first foray into the Loughrea half earned a penalty which centre Dave Clarke converted.
Clarke then struck a super drop goal to stretch their lead 6-0, while Loughrea spurned a chance to open their tally when Stephen Creaven’s penalty was wide.
As the city side continued to dominate with their forwards repelling the bigger Loughrea side in defence and their lively backs making line-breaks, outhalf Ross Shaughnessy stetched the lead to 9 - 0 before Clarke converted another penalty.
Loughrea, however, ensured Wegians would not run away with it when Creaven struck a penalty just before half time to reduce the arrears 12 - 3, and they continued early in the second half with their best spell of rugby. After some excellent work from the pack, the ball was put through the hands before fullback Darren Griffin beat the cover to score in the corner.
A fine break by replacment winger Ronan Moore set up field position before Clarke potted his fourth kick, but Loughrea, the division 1B champions, came roaring back and, after some excellent work from their pack, they earned another penalty for Creaven to slot, 15-11.
Although Clarke slotted another penalty, the game was still in the balance at 18-11, before Wegians struck for the decisive score seven minutes from full time. From a scrum Ross Fitzgerald made 10 yards before finding fullback Ronan Burke who chipped ahead from just outside the 22. Although Loughrea gathered the ball just short of the try line, Galwegians forced the knock-on, grabbed the loose ball, and, the alert Ronan Moore pounced, scoring in the corner to make it 23-11, ensuring the city side won their first junior cup since 2008.
Galwegians XV: R Burke, S Thompstone, D Symes,D Clarke, A Fallon, R Shaughnessy, M Connolly, S Egan, R Fitzgerald, A O’Sullivan, M Towey, S Perkins, G Fahy, C O’Connell, P Griffin. Subs, M Fox, R David, D Deegan, R Moore, P Jennings.
Seniors live dangerously
Galwegians continue to live dangerously in the Ulster Bank League division 1b when they were forced to settle for a 16 - 10 losing bonus point against UL Bohemians Annacotty on Saturday. Wegians had taken an early lead courtesy of an 8th minute penalty from outhalf Tadhg Leader and, although they continued to dominate the opening quarter, Leader was wide with a 15th minute effort as they could find no way through a well-marshalled Bohs’ defence.
The hosts drew level after a rare sortie just after the half-hour mark when outhalf Ed Torrie struck a penalty, but Galwegians replied also immediately when Leader found winger Matt Dever who dived over for the game’s opening try. Leader added the extras for a deserved 10-3 half-time lead.
Unfortunately the lead did not last long. The hosts were level within two minutes of the restart when Irish u-21 star JJ Hanrahan raced through for a converted try, before he struck a 70th minute penalty minutes to grab the lead for the first time.
Galwegians: D Leader; M Dever, C Conroy, B Murphy; P Finn; T Leader,D Moore; J Naughton, C Muldoon, J East; E Tarmey, B McClearn; D Murphy, I Muldoon, E McKeon.