Galwegians enjoyed a perfect start to the New Year with a valuable 15-12 win over Young Munster in the Ulster Bank League division one.
A late try from the home side gave them a dramatic victory - their third in a row - in this first league fixture in five weeks.
As a result Galwegians moved up to eighth place, overtaking Terenure College, and they head to Co Down to face bottom-placed Ballynahinch, who are enjoying a resurgence.
Last Saturday both Wegians and Young Munster were relatively ring-rusty after the long break, and it showed early on with multiple errors, but the home side opened the scoring in the fifth minute following some good defence by their backline. Left-wing Ed O’Keeffe latched onto loose ball and displayed some excellent control and footwork to hack on three times before gathering and diving over near the left-corner against his former club.
After outhalf Shane O’Leary missed the difficult conversion, Wegians were back on the defensive, and Munsters’ centre Gearoid Lyons opened their account with an 11th minute penalty after the home side conceded at the breakdown.
The mounting penalty count looked like being costly for the hosts, but a key turning point came on 15 minutes when another penalty at the breakdown was reversed, leading to the harsh sin-binning of Munsters' second-row Mike Madden in what seemed a case of mistaken identity. The Blues took advantage with a penalty kick to the corner and flanker Marc Kelly grabbed try number two for a 10-3 lead.
When Wegian No 8 Anthony Ryan was binned, Munsters settled for a drop goal from Diarmuid O’Hanlon, and while Wegians spurned two try-scoring chances before the break, it was the visitors who added a penalty to narrow the gap to 10-9.
Young Munsters' superior scrum helped them to take a 12 - 10 for the first time, but not for the first time this season the Blues dug deep. Spurred on by inspirational leadership from captain Ja Naughton, who led tirelessly from the front, some influential kicking from replacement outhalf Aidan Moynihan, and replacement hooker Juan Anaya who was prominent in the loose, they took the game to their opponents.
With the game entering stoppage time, they were rewardd when a lineout maul was eventually finished off by flanker Kelly near the right-hand corner. Unfortunately a fracas in the immediate aftermath led to the sin-binning of Wegians substitute prop Doran McHugh and the dismissal of Young Munster hooker and captain Ger Slattery. Referee Correll also awarded Wegians a penalty from the restart, and this allowed the Blues close out the game on the attack to seal a hard-earned four points.
This vital win sees the Blues move up to eighth place in the League table as they overtake Terenure College. Next up for the Blues is an away trip to face a resurgent bottom-placed Ballynahinch in Co. Down next Saturday as they seek to make it three consecutive League wins in Division 1a.
Galwegians XV: C Gaffney; J Cleary, C Brennan (sub A Phewhairangi ), B Murphy, E O’Keeffe; S O’Leary (sub Aidan Moynihan ), C Blade; J Naughton (c ), J Dinneen (sub J Anaya ), J East (sub D McHugh ), P Claffey, M Cummins; M Kelly, P Hackett (sub M Towey ), A Ryan.