Wegians stay top after dramatic local derby win

Galwegians remain on top of the Ulster Bank League’s division 1B by a whisker.

Still one point ahead of Ballymena, Galwegians staged a remarkable comeback last weekend against local rivals Buccaneers to retain their unbeaten record, winning by 29-25

The Glenina outfit will now face Ballymena in a top-of-the-table clash on November 1 in Crowley Park where they will also battle for the Des Dempsey Memorial Cup. Coach Matt Brown will expect his charges to show the same grit and determination that saw them over the line last weekend when they had looked dead and buried with the game already in injury time.

Having clawed back a 22 point deficit to level the contest, Galwegians conceded a penalty deep into stoppage time. Buccaneers looked assured of taking the victory when Alan Gaughan’s kick sailed through the uprights.

However in the last play winger Matt Dever claimed the restart, fullback John Cleary and Murphy continued the attack, and finally right wing Colin Conroy, with pace and a side-step, touched down for a bonus-point try, with debutant Lowndes landing the touchline conversion.

It was a bitter pill for the hosts to swallow having enjoyed such a comfortable lead, and having opened their account with a Luke Sadwell try after only two minutes, which Gaughan converted. Capitalising on the wind, they doubled their lead 12 minutes later when fullback Eoghan O’Reilly crossed following a lineout steal and Gaughan added the extras.

After Wegians lost key players in captain and prop Ja Naughton and outhalf Dave Clarke, Buccs grabbed their third try, and moments later things went from bad to worse for the visitors when stand-in captain Brian Murphy was binned by referee Leo Colgan for hands in the ruck and Gaughan extended the lead to 22-0.

Galwegians, however, did get on the scoreboard when veteran lock Brian McClearn charged in from the 22 before the break, and although they were back on offensive, all they managed by the 54th minute was a penalty from substitute debutant Aidan Moynihan.

However the sinbinning of Buccs talismanic backrow Kolo Kiripati gave Wegians added impetus, and they rounded off a sustained period of pressure when a fired-up McHugh bulldozed his way past two defenders to score near the posts on 64 minutes, with Connacht u-20 Conor Lowndes landing the conversion to reduce arrears to 22-15.

Wegians were reduced to 14 men when McHugh received a second yellow card for a needless high tackle, but they maintained the momentum, and capitalised on a Buccaneers’ knock-on with Lowndes grabbing the third try and converting.

With the sides level, no one would have predicted the dramatic finale to this game, but it was the Galway outfit, with four u-20 debutants, who stole the show.

Galwegians XV: J Cleary; C Conroy, B Murphy, G O’Brien, M Dever; D Clarke, B Lee; J Naughton (c ), P O’Donnell, J East; B McClearn, M Cummins; E Rooney, J Pimm, A Ryan. Replacements: D McHugh, C Dunne, M Towey, A Moynihan, C Lowndes.

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