Galwegians produced arguably their best ever result in Ulster Bank League history when they outgunned and outplayed reigning Division 1A champions Lansdowne with a stunning five-try performance in Glenina.
Having lost their last two outings away to Dublin opposition, Galwegians were eager to put in a good performance and get back to winning ways. They started with intent and took an early lead with a third minute penalty by out-half Aidan Moynihan.
Lansdowne soon levelled through a scrum penalty which was converted by Moynihan's opposite number Scott Deasy. However, the Lansdowne captain was guilty of a poor miss from in front of the posts on 15 minutes.
'Wegians made their opponents pay when they took the lead again just two minutes later. Some excellent breakdown work by centre Brian Murphy was rewarded with a penalty which Moynihan converted to restore their three-point advantage.
Despite the hosts making the livelier start, it was Mike Ruddock's men who scored the first try just before the half hour mark. When 'Wegians failed to make touch with a penalty from inside their 22, the Lansdowne back-line ran it back with menace, creating an overlap for busy winger Mark Roche who dotted down near the right corner. Deasy missed the difficult conversion, leaving the scoreline 8-6.
'Wegians refused to panic and they took up where they left off to go on the offensive. They deservedly regained the lead just before half-time when a fine burst by prominent prop Jason East punctured the defence, and the move was finished with aplomb by Murphy who dived over in the left hand corner. Moynihan then struck a perfect conversion to split the posts and give his side a 13-8 buffer at the break.
In a clear statement of intent for the second half, 'Wegians head coach Matt Brown brought on Caolin Blade at scrum half and one of the club's own underage products, Darragh Leader, returning from injury, for his first appearance of the season at full-back.
However, two minutes after the restart, the home side were again punished ruthlessly for a kicking error. It came when Blade had his first box-kick charged down by Joe O'Brien, and the Lansdowne flanker followed up to touch down for Deasy to convert and make it 15-13.
The nip-and-tuck fare continued as the Blues responded in impressive style, going on the attack almost immediately. Within five minutes they were back in front when a strong period of pressure on the Lansdowne line yielded a penalty, and Moynihan tapped it over for a one-point advantage.
'Wegians sensed their much-vaunted opponents were there for the taking, and the home forwards were now firmly in the ascendancy, providing a strong platform for their threatening backs.
In the final half hour there was really only one team in it as the Blues put the current title holders to the sword. Ed O'Keeffe, 'Wegians' hugely impressive new winger, bagged his second brace of tries in consecutive matches before the hour mark was up.
On 51 minutes, the Limerick youngster, who has joined the Connacht Academy, took a pass and ran a tremendous line, showing pace, strength and determination to scorch over in the left corner at the clubhouse end. Seven minutes later, he dived over in exactly the same spot following a sweet right to left back-line move, with Leader prominent in creating the opening.
Although neither try was converted, the Blues were now eleven points in the clear and very good value for it. Following another bout of pressure, Leader gave them a 29-15 cushion on 65 minutes with a neatly-struck drop goal.
The home pack continued to work tirelessly and crucially held their discipline to not allow the visitors get back into the game. When Lansdowne finally did make a foray into the 'Wegians 22 with ten minutes remaining, another Trojan defensive effort by Murphy saw him clear his lines to take play back into opposition territory.
The crowning glory for Brown's side came in the 73rd minute when they scored a fully deserved bonus try. Some wonderful feet from Leader saw him dance around the visiting defence, and when his work was carried on by Blade, he fed the supporting Ciaran Gaffney who dived over in the right corner for a quite magnificent try, to the obvious delight of the Crowley Park support.
With the game now won, the Blues momentarily lost concentration from the restart and allowed Lansdowne in for a soft try a minute later, with centre Tom Farrell crossing for his side’s third try. This gave the visitors a chance to salvage two late bonus points.
Nonetheless, 'Wegians finished the game in style, and as they continued to pound away at the line, industrious flanker Josh Pim dived over near the posts in the last minute for try number five. Moynihan's conversion sealed a 21-point winning margin on a memorable day for the Galway club.
Referee: Frank Murphy (IRFU)