Dungannon overturned a five-point half-time deficit to beat Galwegians 24-15 for a vital win at Stevenson Park on Saturday.
AIB LEAGUE: DIVISION 1B: Saturday, April 10
DUNGANNON 24 GALWEGIANS 15, Stevenson Park
Scorers: Dungannon: Tries: Glen Telford, Mark Farquhar, Derek Hall; Cons: James Shiells 3; Pen: James Shiells
Galwegians: Tries: Ambrose Conboy 2; Con: Dave Clarke; Pen: Rob O’Beirn
Dungannon secured their place in AIB League Division 1B for next season as they picked up only their second victory in nine games, with their Ulster rivals Ballynahinch and Ballymena dropping down to Division 2.
But the Tyrone side had to wait until the final minute to make the game safe, with flanker Derek Hall diving over in the right corner and out-half James Shiells landing an excellent conversion.
Mid-table Galwegians had little to play for but their pack got on top early on and number 8 Ambrose Conboy helped himself to a brace of first half tries, in sunny conditions.
Shiells opened the scoring with an early penalty from outside the 22, but the hosts lost prop Mark Farquhar to the sin-bin and Conboy muscled his way over for a well-taken try which centre Dave Clarke converted.
Despite having a physically stronger pack, Galwegians could not make any more use of their numerical advantage and a fully-loaded ‘Gannon engineered two more scoring chances for Shiells which he failed to take – a penalty, after winger Chris Cochrane had been held up, and a drop goal.
They paid the price when clinical ‘Wegians struck for their second try and Conboy was again the scorer, making it 12-3.
Farquhar redeemed himself, showing good pace to break through for a converted try, after being set up by number 8 Timothy Smith’s flipped pass.
But a huge penalty from full-back Rob O’Beirn gave the Galway outfit a 15-10 advantage at half-time.
The game remained finely balanced, with ‘Wegians being able to soak up a huge amount of pressure before Dungannon’s excellent centre Glen Telford spotted a midfield gap, dummied and sped through to score close to the posts, allowing Shiells a comfortable conversion.
Galwegians still posed a threat in the final quarter but Hall’s score eased the growing tension around Stevenson Park, as Willie Milligan’s men got the required result.
Speaking afterwards, Dungannon RFC President Stanley Turkington said: “The hours the players spent slogging on the training pitch on dirty winter nights has paid dividends over the past six weeks with the boys keeping going over the full eighty minutes.
“All credit to the coaching staff as well who put in many hours on top of that working on tactics. A well deserved win and now we can look forward to next season.”
DUNGANNON: Conor Gaston; Neil Patterson (capt), Paul Magee, Glen Telford, Chris Cochrane; James Shiells, Rowan Halsall; Glen Sinnamon, Richard Carleton, Mark Farquhar, Michael Rainey, Neville Magee, Stuart McKenzie, Derek Hall, Timothy Smith.
Replacements used: Mark Riddell, Michael Reid, Alistair Birch, Jason Bloomfield, Andrew Holmes.
GALWEGIANS: Rob O’Beirn; Barry Lee, Brian Murphy, Dave Clarke, John Cleary; Ross Shaughnessy, Kieran Campbell; Ja Naughton, Conor Muldoon, Jamie Stephens, Dave Nolan, Brian McClearn, Liam Scahill, Ivan Muldoon (capt), Ambrose Conboy.
Replacements used: Doran McHugh, Dermot Murphy, Derek Boyd, Ronan Dillon, Mark Butler.
Referee: Paul Haycock (IRFU)