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Light Blues Leave ‘Wegians In Their Wake
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Light Blues Leave ‘Wegians In Their Wake

Light Blues Leave ‘Wegians In Their Wake

Galwegians were unable to hit the heights of their outstanding recent defeat of Lansdowne as hosts Garryowen ran out deserved 18-9 winners at Dooradoyle on Saturday.

The Light Blues, who have moved up to third in the table, hit the front thanks to two penalties from scrum half Neil Cronin and a well-orchestrated lineout maul saw second row Shane Buckley grab the game's first try.

Two Aidan Moynihan penalties closed the gap to 11-6, but the Galwegians out-half had to go off with Ciaran Gaffney, who had a try ruled out for a forward pass, moving to half-back. Ed O'Keeffe did really well to prevent Alex Wootton from scoring out wide, before Garryowen skipper Josh Hrstich capitalised on a quick tap penalty to touch down on the hour mark.

Former Ireland Under-20 international Gaffney slotted a 71st minute penalty, however he pulled an injury-time kick wide as off-colour 'Wegians missed out on a losing bonus point.

Playing in their new away strip of black, the signs were ominous early on for the Galway men when they conceded three penalties in the opening ten minutes in their own half. Cronin (pictured below) converted two of his three attempts to give his side an early 6-0 lead.

'Wegians eventually got into the game and secured some territory, with a hugely dominant scrum where returning Connacht prop Ronan Loughney was having a major impact at loosehead. Following a second successive scrum penalty awarded, number 10 Moynihan opened the visitors' account with a 16th minute penalty.

However, 'Wegians failed to secure the restart, which proved fatal as Garryowen went on the offensive. And following two penalty kicks to the corner, they soon rumbled over for the opening try, with Buckley getting the touchdown.

Cronin's conversion hit the upright, leaving it 11-3. 'Wegians had the better of the second quarter with the scrum continuing to cause serious damage. Nonetheless, they were failing to string the phases together and not causing too much concern for the Light Blues.

With their only serious attack, they thought they scored a try on the half hour mark when Gaffney crossed in the corner, only for referee Mark Connolly to call a forward pass by debutant winger Niyi Adeolokun.

Despite that missed opportunity, Moynihan did manage to reduce the margin to five points with a penalty soon after, only to have to immediately retire with a dead leg. This was on top of the earlier loss of Paddy Finn at flanker.

There were some strong words from Galwegians head coach Matt Brown at the break, but there was little change in tempo in the second half. The error count continued to pile up for 'Wegians, and the hosts, playing economically and efficiently, always looked the more likely to score next.

Some excellent defensive work by O'Keeffe stopped a try when home full-back Wootton, the pacy Ireland Sevens international, looked certain to score from a breakaway move.

However, the pressure finally told on the hour mark when the game's outstanding player, Garryowen number 8 Hrstich (pictured below), tapped a quick penalty five yards out and caught the visiting defence napping to score his side's second try. Cronin's conversion stretched their lead to 12 points.

Brown had by now emptied his bench to try freshen up his attack, but it was having limited impact. The visitors were given hope when awarded a penalty on 71 minutes, which Gaffney converted to reduce the gap to 18-9. Instead of kicking on, there was little sign of any attacking threat from a disjointed-looking 'Wegians.

At least not until injury-time when a kick and chase by O'Keeffe nearly led to a consolation try – an unfortunate bounce saw the ball evade the flying winger's clutches.

Galwegians' day was summed up in the last act of play when Gaffney had a chance to secure a losing bonus point having been awarded a penalty off a defensive lineout. Although not a 'gimme', he never caught in properly and scuffed his effort wide to send the visitors home empty-handed.

Referee: Mark Connolly (IRFU)

Lineups Scorers

Match Lineups

Home Team

Alex Wootton, Hugh O'Brien-Cunningham, Andrew O'Byrne, Joey Purcell, James McInerney; Conan Doyle, Neil Cronin; Peter O'Shea, Caolan Moloney, JP Phelan, Aaron McCloskey, Shane Buckley, Elliott Fitzgerald, Conor Oliver, Josh Hrstich (capt).

Replacements: Liam McMahon, Ben Rowley, Jay Kavanagh, Ed Barry, James Frawley, Dylan Sheehan.

Away Team

Ciaran Gaffney; Ed O'Keeffe, Cormac Brennan, Brian Murphy (capt), Niyi Adeolokun; Aidan Moynihan, Barry Lee; Jason East, Juan Anaya, Ronan Loughney, Anthony Ryan, Marty Cummins, Paddy Finn, Josh Pimm, Marc Kelly.

Replacements: Jack Dinneen, Ja Naughton, Matt Towey, Adam Leavy, Caolin Blade.

Match Scorers

Home Team

Tries: Shane Buckley, Josh Hrstich; Con: Neil Cronin; Pens: Neil Cronin 2

Away Team

Pens: Aidan Moynihan 2, Ciaran Gaffney