Galwegians’ lead at the top of Division 1B down to just a single point as their early season form appears to have suddenly deserted them. They suffered their second successive defeat when going down 18-3 at home to a fired-up Shannon team.
Shannon, with just three wins before Christmas, started the brighter and took an early lead courtesy of Tadhg Bennett's second-minute penalty. However, Galwegians were soon on level terms when a 30-metre penalty was slotted over by full-back John Cleary.
The Blues were getting on the wrong side of referee Will O'Connor who, with the first quarter barely up, lost his patience and duly sin-binned 'Wegians tighthead prop Doron McHugh. The hosts held out at a five-metre scrum, although Bennett soon restored Shannon's three-point lead.
'Wegians were struggling to find any rhythm, although there were somewhat unfortunate not to grab the opening try when returning centre Brian Murphy burst through the middle, only to be pulled back for a forward pass.
The turning point of the game came on the half hour when the Blues were camped in Shannon territory. Despite losing forwards Lee Nicholas and replacement prop Kevin Griffin to the sin-bin, Shannon kept their try-line intact.
Those yellow cards came in quick succession and 'Wegians unsurprisingly opted for a series of five-metre scrums from penalties.
At one stage a penalty try looked a formality, only for number 8 Anthony Ryan to pick and go too early and the seven-man Shannon scrum somehow turned the ball over at the next set piece to relieve the pressure. It was a game-changing moment and it got even better for the visitors on the stroke of half-time.
With the 'Wegians lineout misfiring, Shannon stole lineout ball near the hosts' 22 and with the covering Colin Conroy gambling on a tackle and missing his man, David O'Donovan was sent over for the game's opening try and an 11-3 interval lead.
Galwegians continued to miss opportunities on the resumption, including a Cleary penalty miss, and the confidence appeared to visibly drain from the home side.
Back to their full complement, Shannon were simply hungrier and more determined, with out-half Bennett dictating play and putting in some good relieving kicks. Winger O'Donovan was denied a second try by an excellent cover tackle by Cleary.
That clinching score eventually came in injury-time when young full-back Stephen Fitzgerald was sent clear on the right, and he sauntered in unopposed. Replacement Ronan McKenna's easy conversion capped off a morale-boosting success for Ian Sherwin's charges who are now up to seventh in the league standings.
Referee: Will O'Connor (IRFU)