Corinthians were 22-8 victors over local rivals Galwegians in the city derby return leg in UBL division 2A at Cloonacauneen on Friday.
This result was Corinthians’ first win over Galwegians in the history of the All-Ireland League, and importantly lifts the Cloonacauneen men out of the relegation zone. However Wegians remain marooned at the bottom of the table, staring at the face of relegation with just seven game left to turn their fortunes around.
On Friday evening, both sides, with only two wins from 10, started this game lying in the bottom two places of the league table. And although there was little to choose between the sides for long periods of this game, the hosts were worthy winners due to their clinical finishing and ability to take their scoring chances.
In an evenly-contested first half, the visitors edged the early exchanges in both territory and possession. However they were unable to turn that dominance into scores, spurning one great chance in particular when they were three metres from the opposition try line, only to be penalised by referee Cillian Hogan.
Corinthians defended comfortably, and they served notice of their intent when they scored with their first real incursion into the Wegians' half at the end of the first quarter with outhalf Mark McDermott slotting the penalty for a 3-0 lead.
Wegians responded with a Morgan Codyre penalty after the restart, and Galwegians then held the upper hand for the next period. Their dominant scrum provided the platform, but they never really threatened to make a breakthrough, and the only opportunity was a long-range Codyre penalty which had the distance, but was just wide.
The turning point came shortly afterwards when Wegians' flanker Matt Towey was sin-binned for a high tackle near the Corinthians' 22. The hosts took advantage, worked their way upfield, and on the stroke of half-time scrumhalf Sean Hogan spotted a gap, leapfrogged a ruck and scampered home under the posts for the opening try. McDermott converted to give his side a 10-3 lead at the break.
The game was effectively decided within minutes of the restart. Although the visitors were restored to their full complement, a galvanised home side went on the attack, and from McDermott's clever and perfectly judged kick, older brother Dave claimed the touchdown with Mark adding the conversion for a 17-3 lead.
Wegians, with a mountain to climb, showed spirit and self-belief to give themselves a lifeline. They went on the attack from the restart, and with their scrum remaining well on top, they had Corinthians under the cosh under the posts. Eventually centre Dave Clarke finished off a sustained period of pressure by spotting a gap to dive over near the right corner. Although unconverted, it brought them back into the game at 17-8.
However when the Blues lost tight-head prop Jason East, their scrum dominance waned, and the hosts regained control. Comfortably on top in the final quarter, Corinthians sealed the issue deep into stoppage time. Frpm a a stolen lineout, number 8 and man of the match Sean Masterson barged over near the corner.
Galwegians XV: Rory Gaffney, Danny Carr, Brian Murphy, Dave Clarke, Dan Faulkner, Morgan Codyre, Richie Fahey, Conor Kyne, John Moloney, Jason East, Eoin Tarmey, Marty Cummins, Matt Towey, Paul Hackett, Jack Winters. Subs, Callum Torpey, Martin Fox, Pa Curran, Ross Mooney, Eamon Dowling.
Corinthians XV: Sean Hudson, Michael O'Reilly, Dave Panter (capt ), Finn Gormley, Dave McDermott, Mark McDermott, Sean Horan, Kevin Gavin, Shane Faulkner, Craig Hansberry, Aaron Broderick, Colin Raftery, Dylan Tierney, Isaac O’Connor, Sean Masterson. Subs, Alan Bane, Adam Bourke, Michael O'Connell, Cathal Evans, Ruairi Greene.