Prop Doron McHugh’s third try of the Ulster Bank League season proved decisive for Division 1B leaders Galwegians in their hard-fought 10-6 win at Garryowen.
It was third hosting first at Dooradoyle and Garryowen took a 13th minute lead thanks to a penalty from out-half Jamie Gavin, which took his tally for the league campaign to 70 points.
An early head injury to Brian Murphy unsettled Galwegians slightly, but a classy line-break from his centre partner Gary O'Brien and a spell of pressure from the forwards saw the visitors go close to scoring.
Loose passing and a suffocating Garryowen defence kept 'Wegians scoreless until the 44th minute when John Cleary landing a long range penalty, with the floodlights turned on as the sky darkened overhead.
The sudden loss of full-back Alex Wootton, who was red carded for foul play, left Garryowen under all sorts of pressure and 'Wegians quickly took control. Referee Oisin McHugh dismissed the Ireland Under-20 international after consultation with one of his touch judges.
Barry Lee's touchfinder set up a lineout five metres out and in-form front rower Doron McHugh (pictured below) was driven over from the resulting maul, with Cleary converting.
But the home side were in no mood to fold, with a penalty from Gavin – straight in front of the posts, entering the final quarter – closing the gap back to four points.
There was another twist when Galwegians' influential lock Brian McClearn saw yellow, but Matt Brown's men dug their heels in to see out a deserved victory.
Garryowen, who remain third in the table, were left to rue a series of handling errors in the difficult conditions, which ruined some promising late attacks in 'Wegians territory.
'Wegians head coach Brown told the Irish Examiner afterwards: “This was a huge win for us. We were conscious of the strengths of a big Garryowen side. It was our biggest test on the road so far and I am delighted at the way we stood up to the challenge.”
Brown's side maintained their seven-point lead at the top of the table, and will be seeking to finish 2014 on a winning note when they visit Dublin University on Saturday, December 20.
Referee: Oisin Quinn (IRFU)