After a resounding 43-3 victory over Westport the previous weekend, Connemara consolidated their good form with a hard fought 11-6 victory over Boys Club at the Sporsground side pitch.
Twice victorious over Connemara this season, the Blacks exacted a measure of revenge on their Galway City counterparts with a display of defensive solidity which has become a hallmark of new coach Eddie Walsh’s brief tenure in charge. Indeed, in five of the last six games Connemara have kept their opponent try-less and the one try they did concede in the aforementioned glut of games came at the death against Castlebar.
It is extremely encouraging to see the Blacks, an extremely young team relative to their competitors in the Connacht Junior 1A League, having the ability to vary their tactics successfully game from game; last weekend’s victory over Westport was built on a foundation of glistening attacking rugby whilst their triumph over Boys Club was testament to a miserly defence, which was epitomised by the industry of Alan Pryce, the centre duo of David McDonagh and Richard Bourke and the ever improving Patrick Moran.
Connemara started the game brightly, no doubt bouyed by their seven try heist against Westport, and soon had the hosts on the back foot. Kevin Keogh, so often a source of attacking impetus for the Blacks, made a significant forray into Boys Club territory before, after a series of patient and probing pick and goes, Stephen Mullen became the benefactor of an overlap and sauntered in unscathed for a deserving opening try of the game. Unfortunately, Shane Sweeney couldn’t add the extra’s but the large contingent of Blacks’ fans at the game were suitably enthused by their team’s start. 5-0 to the visitors
The gauntlet was laid down to Boys Club and they duly reacted; sending wave after wave of attack at the Connemara rearguard. However, a lot of the hosts back play was telegraphed and the Monastery Field men shrugged off their attempts.
A feature of Connemara’s play on a rain sodden Sunday afternoon was their kicking for territory, a facet in which first centre David McDonagh excelled. Connemara’s next points had their genesis in one of the Roundstone man’s accurate left footed touch finders. After winning their own line out, Boys Club attempted to run their way out of their own half; however, thanks to some ferocious counter rucking, Connemara won a penalty at the ensuing breakdown. After missing his first attempt at goal, Shane Sweeney made amends with a beautifully struck penalty from all of 35 metres to stretch the visitors lead to 8-0.
The half time whistle sounded with Connemara protecting an eight nil lead.
With little other choice, Boys Club started the second half by blitzing the Connemara line, but time after time their attempts met the same Black wall of resistance. In the eyes of the referee, not all of Connemara’s containment was on the right side of the law and he soon reprimanded the Blacks. Offside was the offence from which Boys Club profited and registered their first points from the penalty tee. 8-3 was now the score and the momentum was definitely with the hosts.
With their tails up after registering their first points, Boys Club pummelled the Connemara line, but the same resistance which greeted each of their attacks in the first half prevailed. The frustration amongst the Boys Club players at their inability to break Connemara down was palpable.
The hosts frustrations were soon to be compounded when, on a rare Connemara visit to the Boys Club 22 in the second half, the Blacks stretched their lead even further. Boys Club incurred the wrath of the referee for the tackler not rolling away and Shane Sweeney punished them with an academic penalty to take the scoreline to 11-3 to Eddie Walsh’s charges. Connemara’s ruthlessness when presented a chance was in stark contrast to the profligacy of Boys Club.
Another Connemara infringement at the breakdown saw Boys Club add another penalty and further reduce their deficit, but their efforts were vain as the Blacks’ defence proved impregnable. The impressive Michael O’Toole thought he had added gloss to the victory late on only for his try to be disallowed for double movement.
After an inconsistent start to the season, a young Connemara team are beginning to show the consistency that coach Eddie Walsh craves. The Blacks recent ressurgence will be put under significant scrutiny in their next fixture, at home to Ballina on Sunday January 26th.
1: Eugene Conroy
2: Alan Pryce(c)
3: Kevin Barry
4: Niall Staunton
5: Martin Faherty
6: Patrick Moran
7: Kevin Keogh
8: Barry Gibbons
9: Michael O’Toole
10: Shane Sweeney
11: Peter O’Toole
12: David McDonagh
13: Richard Bourke
14: Stephen Mullen
15: Jack Vaughan
Replacements: Ian Heanue, Colin Reilly, David McHugh, Mark Staunton, Eddie Walsh.