Galwegians crown successful season with league promotion

Back up the ranks. Wegians celebrate returning to AIL league 2B.

Back up the ranks. Wegians celebrate returning to AIL league 2B.

Galwegians’ ascent back up the All-Ireland League pyramid peaked after victory in the AIL 2B/2C promotion/relegation final, defeating the now-relegated Dolphin RFC 24-19 in Musgrave Park.

After missing out on the title by five points to Clogher Valley, Galwegians will join the County Tyrone side in the AIL Division 2B next season, climbing straight back after last season’s relegation to 2C.

Two changes were made to the starting XV that defeated Bruff in the play-off semi-final. Shane Mallon’s heroics off the bench that saw him score two tries earned him a starting spot as winger, while Ben Donnelly enjoyed his first start of the season at scrum half. A stacked bench for the Blues included Irish Under-20 internationals Finn Tracey and Hugh Gavin.

Amid overcast skies in Musgrave Park, Galwegians faced an early onslaught from the Dolphin forwards as they launched their first attack, but the Blues repelled these early efforts, holding them up twice in the early exchanges.

Instead it was Galwegians that would land the first blow of the game with Shane Mallon continuing where he left off last weekend with an early try. A team try played to perfection saw the backs complete the move with Mallon touching down. Tiarnan Neville converted for a 0-7 lead.

However it was not long before Dolphin returned the favour, scoring a try just five minutes later when Timmy Phelan grounded. Crucially, it went unconverted, ensuring Galwegians held onto their lead by two.

Galwegians, enjoying territorial control, came close to scoring twice, but Dolphin protected their line well and kept the Blues from scoring on both occasions. Discipline began to cost the hosts, and Neville created a buffer with two penalties in front of the posts, giving the Blues a 13-5 lead at half-time.

If Galwegians’ strong defence kept them in front, their attack once again came to the fore immediately after the restart. This time it was Andrew Sherlock with some clever link-up play between himself and Neville. Sherlock finished the job after finding space to make the break.

Neville increased the tally with a try of his own on 51 minutes: after an expert interception he ran home Galwegians’ third of the afternoon to put them 20 points clear with half an hour to go.

Dolphin, under the collar, pushed hard to make it a dramatic finale. James Vaughan got Dolphin back up and running with their second try, and Daryl Foley’s conversion cut the gap to 13 points.

And when Craig O’Herlihy secured their third try, it started to make the Blues look worried. When Foley converted to cut the deficit to six points, it set the stage for a dramatic end to the final.

However it was too late for the County Cork side as the final whistle blew, ensuring Galwegians’ success in their bid to return to Division 2B after a year’s absence. After many difficult years, the Blues will look to climb to the higher tiers of the AIL once again.

Galwegians: D Kennedy, O McKey, R Deacy, C Brady, S Mallon, T Neville, B Donnelly, J Winters (C ), R Smith, G Daniel, R Holian, E Tarmey, O Halpin, J Vaafusuaga, L Angermann.

Replacements: M McColgan, J Haugh, H Gens, D Keane, J Quinn, A Sherlock, J Munn, H Gavin F Tracey


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