For the second Magners League home game in succession Connacht relinquished a 14-point lead on Friday as the visiting Cardiff Blues snatched a 19-14 victory in the closing stages to leave the westerners 11 points adrift at the bottom of the Magners League.
It was another heartbreaking defeat at the Sportsground for an improving Connacht side that dominated the opening half, scoring a try through Ray Ofisa set up by Galwegians lock Andrew Browne and three penalties from the boot of Ian Keatley who was in fine form in that opening half.
Yet despite the 14-0 lead and having an extra man for the opening minutes of the second half with Rhys Thomas in the sin bin, Connacht didn’t push on as Cardiff rallied with three penalties from Ben Blair and a try, which came out of nowhere with three minutes remaining from Robin Sowden Taylor.
Blair added a conversion and another penalty with the last kick as Connacht replicated their late collapse against Llanelli at the same venue in January. The losing bonus point still leaves the home side trailing in the wake of the Dragons in the Magners League table, and afterwards home captain John Muldoon was crestfallen.
“It’s heartbreaking not to come out with a win having led like that. That has happened twice in as many home league games now. If I could put my finger on the problem I wouldn’t be standing here on the losing side. We worked very hard since the Ospreys game on our defence and I thought our defence was excellent tonight. But in the end they broke our lines once and it proved very costly.”
Muldoon agreed that the squad could always do with strengthening but dismissed any suggestion that a slight lack of experience is costing Connacht in these games.
“I think we have the quality of player, we just need to get a little bit of self belief that we can win these games. We put ourselves in a winning position on the scoreboard again here but it seems like just at the end of these games it gets snatched off us. Maybe that bit of self belief is what we are lacking at the moment and that is something we are going to work hard to rectify.”
AIL round up
In All-Ireland League action at the weekend, Galwegians and Buccaneers were beaten in Division one, with the midlanders losing 21-6 at home to St Mary’s and the sky blues travelling to Blackrock and going down heavily 48-10.
There was much brighter news for Corinthians, however, as they beat County Carlow 8-3 in dreadful weather at Corinthian Park on Saturday thanks to a vital try from Cian Begley and Kenny Diffenthal’s penalty. Those scores came with the wind in the first half and it required some determined defending in the second half to see them through.
Corinthians and Galwegians will renew rivalry on St Patrick’s Day in an event that has caught the attention of rugby people throughout the province and beyond. The return of the Glynn Cup itself after more than a decade is worthy of the headlines, but it is the new format, incorporating each and every club team from under 7s to senior, that has everyone talking.
The event will be held at Corinthian Park and starts at 11am on St Patrick’s Day with the Under 20s, Under 16s and thirds kicking things off on the three pitches. The Ryder Cup style format will mean every victory is worth one point in the overall competition and all games will be 30 minutes a half. The culmination of the 32-team event will be the senior game at 4pm.
The memorial Cup was presented in honour of John J Glynn for the first time in 1959 and has a long and rich legacy, with Galwegians dominating the titles in the ‘60s and Corinthians very much to the fore in the ‘80s.