12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
GALWEGIANS 13 OLD BELVEDERE 12, Crowley Park
Scorers: Galwegians: Tries: John Cleary 2; Pen: Dave Clarke
Old Belvedere: Tries: Chris Keane, David Mongan; Con: Andy Dunne
Missing their prolific centre Fergus McFadden, who was away on Ireland 'A' duty, Old Belvedere fell to their first defeat of the new league season - but the losing bonus point has helped them, at least, remain top of the table.
Playing for the second time in six days - they were comfortable winners over UCD in the AIB Cup last Sunday - Galwegians should have won this clash by more but they did just enough, in the end, to finish on the right side of the result.
In-form winger John Cleary made it four tries in two games as he proved too hot to handle for the 'Belvo rearguard.
The Dublin 4 outfit had the wind at their backs in the first half, and with Leinster scrum half Chris Keane and player-coach Andy Dunne directing operations from half-back, they looked the part.
'Wegians winger Tiernan O'Halloran was sin-binned in the fifth minute for a tackle offence but the hosts recovered well from that setback to score their game's opening try, seven minutes later.
A swerving run saw Cleary beat three tacklers on the way to the whitewash. The conversion was missed but centre Dave Clarke tagged on a penalty to leave 'Belvo eight points adrift.
But Phil Werahiko's men were only one behind when the half-time whistle was blown.
On 30 minutes, Keane charged down an attempted clearance kick from home full-back Mark Butler and he dotted down over the try-line, with Dunne kicking the conversion.
Both Dunne and Clarke missed penalty attempts as the first half came to a close, with Clarke's effort hitting the post.
'Belvo cleaned up their play, which had been blighted by knock ons, and a pinpoint chip from Dunne set up winger David Mongan for his sixth try of the campaign. The missed conversion left it poised at 12-8.
However, with their pack putting in a superbly committed 80 minutes and the likes of scrum half Kieran Campbell and flanker and captain Ivan Muldoon coming to the fore, Galwegians finished the stronger.
Centre Aifai Esera was inches away from responding for 'Wegians with a try, and Dunne's assured line-kicking got 'Belvo out of trouble on a few occasions.
But the table toppers could not hold out. In the 78th minute, Cleary barged clear near the 'Belvo 22 and crossed for a terrific try which went unconverted.
And the Galway men stood firm over the closing minutes, manfully protecting their one-point lead, as they kept up their enviable record of never having lost to Old Belvedere in the AIB League.