Galwegians celebrated their first All Ireland League fixture under lights with a much-needed victory over Corinthians on Friday night.
The home outfit, having suffered two narrow defeats in the previous two division 2B fixtures, finally got their campaign back on track against a high-flying Corinthian side.
The Cloonacauneen outfit deservedly had entered this first league fixture between the sides in 16 years as favourites. With three wins from four, Corinthians had moved into second place in the 16-team division, while Galwegians, with just one win, were languishing near the tail. However Wegians now have jumped up the table into ninth place to close the gap to some six points behind their local rivals and given their campaign a huge boost.
On Friday night all Galwegians’ points came from brothers Tadhg and Darragh Leader, with outhalf Tadhg grabbing all the first-half points for a 15 - 3 half-time lead.
After slotting a drop goal after six minutes from Wegians’ first attack into their opponents’ half, he added a penalty a minute later to give the home side the perfect start.
However Corinthians, true to form, put Galwegians under pressure, particularly with their expansive brand of rugby and they were rewarded when outhalf Mick O’Flynn opened their tally with a 22nd minute penalty.
Galwegians regained the initiative and made it count. With a dominant scrum, they kept the scoreboard ticking over with a 28th minute penalty before extending the lead to 12 points after Corinthians’ scrumhalf Bruce was sinbinned before the break.
Although Corinthians upped the intensity, the crucial score came seven minutes after the restart when Wegians second row Brian McClearn stole possession from a Corinthian maul. John Cleary put Wegians within five metres of the Corinthian goal line, and from a ruck Leader went blind and dived over in the corner, adding the conversion for a 22-3 lead.
Corinthians did get back into the game when O’Flynn found a gap through the cover for fullback Darren Classens to score in the corner, but thereafter the home side closed out the game. Younger Leader brother Darragh took over the kicking duties, adding three long-range efforts to stretch the lead to 31-8.
With just four minutes remaining John Cleary was yellow-carded, and Corinthians took advantage to grab a consolation try from Aoeghus O’Connell.
Galwegians: D Leader, D Butler, J Cleary, B Murphy, C Conroy (capt ), T Leader, B Lee, J Naughton, C Muldoon, J East, A Ryan, B McCleran, E Rooney, I Muldoon, J Gardiner. Replacements, P Griffin, R Fitzgerald, E Tarmey, D Clarke, C O’Rourke.