Hunt for promotion hots up for Galway rugby clubs

Corinthians and Galwegians are back in All Ireland League action on Saturday (2.30pm ) and both enjoy home advantage.

Corinthians RFC will host Dublin University at Cloonacauneen Park in division 1B, while Galwegians, after their cup exploits in Dublin last weekend, are back in Crowley Park where they entertain UCC in division 1A.

Both clubs are in strong positions for promotion this season, but to do so they must maintain their momentum in this second half of the season.

Corinthians, with just one loss, are still maintaining the second spot in the league table in which unbeaten Terenure are still clear leaders by nine points. However the vital play-off position is still very much up for grabs with Corinthians, UL Bohs and Buccaneers all within four points of each other.

The Cloonacauneen outfit has the advantage of two points over nearest rivals UL Bohs, and they should have no trouble in overcoming the Trinity students on Saturday who, with 10 points, have enjoyed just two wins to date. In their last meeting, the first of the season, Corinthians were comfortable 25-7 winners at Sydney Parade.

Across the city on the Dublin Road, Galwegians RFC also host a student outfit UCC, which could be a tricky assignment. UCC may be in sixth place, but their record shows five wins and three defeats, all with losing bonus points. A win for the students would put them right back in contention as they are just five points off Queen’s University in second place.

Last weekend Cory Brown’s side came within a score of advancing to the All Ireland Cup semi-final, losing to top division outfit UCD by a point. While the game demonstrated Galwegians’ promotion credentials, they can take nothing for granted on Saturday.

After that 21-20 agonising defeat at Belfield, Galwegians must now refocus on promotion to division 1B. Still leading the way with 33 points, Galwegians have four clubs within touching distance of the top.

Last weekend’s Bateman Cup quarter-final was played in dismal conditions, making handling difficult for both sides. UCD opened the scoring with a penalty from James Thornton on 18 minutes, but this was soon cancelled by Ross Shaughnessy on 23 minutes, having been off target moments earlier. The students bagged the first try seven minutes later when scrumhalf Jamie Glynn broke free from a well-worked maul and dived over on the left, with Thornton converting for a 10-3 lead.

Wegians, however, gained the upper hand for the remainder of the half. Shaughnessy added a second penalty on 32 minutes to reduce the margin to four points, and when UCD lock Brian Cawley was binned, Wegians eventually made the extra man count when, in the last play of the half, winger Ronan Moore crossed in the corner and Shaughnessy converted for a 13-10 lead.

While Wegians spurned early chances to extend that lead, wing Tom Fletcher crossed for a pivotal try for the students, and a second penalty from Thornton with 16 minutes to go put them five points clear.

Wegians coughed up more ball on attack as they tried to get back into the game, and a counter from the students led to another penalty which gave them a crucial eight-point lead with a few minutes remaining.

Galwegians never gave up and laid siege on the UCD line. Unfortunately Conor Muldoon’s try and Ciaran Gaffney’s conversion came too late. Galwegians RFC: J Cleary, C Gaffney, C Conroy, J Harrimate, R Moore, R Shaughnessy, B Lee, J East, R Fitzgerald, D McHugh, A Ryan, B McClearn (cpt ), E Rooney, E Earle, J Dinneen. Replacements: C Lowndes, D Clarke, M Dever, J Naughton, C Muldoon, M Towey, J Healy.


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