Connacht Senior Cup Final
By Rob Murphy (www.knockon.ie) at Corinthian Park
A strong second half showing helped Galwegians to the Connacht Senior Cup title on Saturday afternoon at Corinthian Park and a first ever appearance in the newly structured All Ireland Cup semi finals.
The sky blues turned around with the wind trailing by 15-11, in touch mainly thanks to the excellent goal kicking of Tadgh Leader after a half where they had conceded three tries to a fired up Corinthians.
They second half however belonged to the visitors who saw a big improvement from their front five and benefited from some fine attacking play.
Jason East opened the scoring for Galwegians with a first half try after good forward work. That had come after 10 minutes of good defensive work against a frustrated Corinthians.
The home sided answered straight away with a brilliant try in the corner from Bryan Dixon after a good lineout, a crash ball run from Cian Begley and quick hands on the second phase to score in the corner and make it 5-5.
Leader notched a penalty for the home side but a forwards score from Corinthians with Owen Daly the winger appearing to get the touchdown was enough to restore their lead at 10-8.
That lead was extended to seven when Finlay Bealham scored try number three. That came from a lineout 25 metres out with the ball thrown to the back and Aaron Conneely popping down off the top to tighthead Bealham who burst through a big gap int he middle and ran in almost untouched.
Again the conversion was missed however and this was made all the worse by the fact that Tadgh Leader kicked a late three pointer to keep the visitors in touch, he added another after half time to bring his side within one when Finn Gormley was penalised and sin binned for killing the ball underneath his own posts.
Minutes later, the sky blues had a try thanks to more good forward work without he excellent Anothony Ryan getting the touchdown for a 21-15 lead after the conversion.
Leader kicked three more soon after and while Corinthians had their moments in the closing stages they couldn’t get back in the scoring grove. The title was wrapped up with five minutes remaining when Brian Murphy capped a fine performance in the centre with a try after a kick and chase.
Galwegians had big performances from Brian McClearn, Eoin Rooney and Ryan among others in the second half and will take a lot of confidence from this win heading into the semi final with St Mary’s in two weeks time.
That fixture means their AIL clash with Old Christians will be re-fixed and while they will be without their Connacht development players who will be on Eagles duty in the B&I Cup, they’ll be hopeful of giving a good account of themselves in that fixture.
Corinthians were stronger than in the November league defeat and are improving as a unit but they again came up short in the derby and the evidence seems clear that the winners are the stronger side in terms of promotion contention in Division 2a.
The three defeats early doors might ultimately cost them but they are a form side for now.