U20s Galwegians 0 - 15 Corinthians

November 7, 2018

Corinthians came up against Galwegians on Saturday in their battle for a play-off place in AIL Under 20 Division 1. In the most appalling weather conditions including gale force winds, torrential winds and machine-gun like hailstones, both sides somehow managed to adapt to the conditions admirably. As a consequence the hardy souls that ventured out were treated to an enthralling contest from the City of the Tribes new generation of rugby players. They are a credit to the development structures in both of the clubs and to the support provided by the Connacht Branch and are also further evidence of the growing strength in depth in Connacht Rugby. After this game Corinthians move up to joint 3rd in the league which is currently being topped by Buccaneers with top clubs like Shannon, Garryowen, Young Munster and Cork Con all lying below them. It was a surprise when referee Daithai Flood decided to allow the game start given the condition of the pitch and the gale force winds being experienced, but while the wind did ease these were probably the most difficult conditions that these players have ever had to contend with. Galwegians won the toss and elected to play against the conditions for the first half. Within minutes the players were covered in mud from head to toe with some of the wide players in danger of frost bite; however both sides showed great character despite the conditions. While Corinthians had the wind they failed to capitalise early on as young outhalf Brendan Carpenter struggled to get to grips with its strength when kicking from hand. That said a lively Corinthians back line did try to move the ball wide with winger Mark Nairn surprisingly making good ground despite the difficult underfoot conditions. It didn’t take long for the coaches on both sides to get the word out to keep the ball tight and thereafter it was a battle of two very strong packs. Corinthians, wind assisted, dominated territory for the first half but failed to capitalise despite some excellent forward work.  Prop Fiachra Tierney was once again outstanding for Corinthians in the scrum and in the loose and was very unlucky not to be awarded a try when stopped just short but full credit to the Wegians forward unit who were led with great passion by Greg Leader and as a team they defended their line heroically.  As a result they went into the break with the match poised in their favour at 0 – 0 and all the elements with them in the second half.  Galwegians coaches James Heaslip, John Casserly and Gavin Duffy would have been very pleased with their performance. On the other hand Corinthian coaches Sean Duignan and Paul Flanagan would have strong words with their charges as a play-off position looked like slipping from their grasp.  As a result and against all the odds, Corinthians played outstanding rugby to dominate the second half and score three exceptional tries.  Winning games like this requires strong leadership and Corinthians captain James Robinson, back after recent illness, led by example. He was supported admirably by his representative colleagues David Ott and Shane Casey and also by new emerging stars Mitchel McGrath and Eoin Costello who battled to the end. Ultimately the difference between the two sides was in the strength of their respective benches with Corinthians able to call on players of the calibre of Shane Conneely, Liam Carpenter, Ronan Browne and Colin Raftery all of whom have represented Connacht this season.
Galwegians started the second half strongly using the wind to gain territory but Corinthians managed to break out after a period of sustained forward pressure with Shane Casey prominent. They succeeded in breaking through resilient Wegians defence for Johnny Kearney to touch down for a hard earned but merited first try.  From the restart Corinthians gained possession and continued to pile on the pressure.  Again after a sustained period of forward pressure where hard yards were hard earned, Shane Conneely broke on the blind and fed full-back Kevin Russell who handed off winger Cian Moyles to dive over in the corner.  Brendan Carpenter almost landed his most difficult kick of the day. Galwegians once again fought back into the game with Greg Leader again very prominent.  He linked well with replacement scrumhalf Senan Quain who showed good handling and footwork skills to put Corinthians under pressure but centres Finn Gormley and Enda Cooney defended resolutely despite being out on their feet.  With time running out scrumhalf Peter Walsh sold an outrageous dummy from broken play to dart through a gap and sprint from 30 meters to score. At the end it was a deserved victory for this developing squad of players that Corinthians are optimistic will bring success to the club in the years ahead.  Also the Galwegians players and coaches left the pitch in the knowledge that their first half display was heroic and on another day against less determined opposition it would have got them a better result. The U20’s play away next Saturday the 24th against Cork Constitution in Temple Hill.