CONNACHT HEINEKEN CUP, SEMI-FINAL

Galwegians and Monivea posted a try apiece in Sunday’s other Heineken Junior Cup semi-final, yellow cards and kicks the difference in the end.

Monivea, cruelly denied the chance for All-Ireland silverware by Tullamore two weeks back, knew their chance for consolation lay on Glenina’s Crowley Park. It was hardly surprising therefore, they ran out a largely unchanged line-up from the one which shut out Coleraine in the All-Ireland semi-final a few weeks prior.Wegians3833

Galwegians, buoyed by their post-Christmas resurgence and no doubt drawing some inspiration from still-raw off-field emotion, paid little heed to Monivea’s proud pedigree.

If Ballina and Loughrea’s semi-final was a titanic battle of defensive patterns, the Galwegian/Monivea clash was tectonic by comparison.

Territorial advantages for much of the game could be measured in quarter-inches, Galwegian Daragh Leader and Monivea’s Ger O’Connor ensured any field kicking was returned with interest. Galwegians’ Alan Deegan, sideline throughout, said that while Monivea contended twice with 14 men in red-and-black, ‘Wegians struggled to reap any dividend from the on-field overlap.

“Monivea did what they had to do the first time, they shut up shop, and pretty much kept possession for that whole 10-minute period. During the second yellow period we scored all right, but I suspect we’d have scored then whether they had 14 or 16 on the field. It wouldn’t have mattered.”

Monivea crossed the line first 90seconds into the second half, despite Galwegians knocking over two penalties for a 6-nil halftime lead.

If rejuvenated enthusiasm may be likened to a firecracker under one’s bottom, Monivea opened the third quarter with the Chinese New Year down their shorts. Where Galwegians failed to contain the fizzing visitors at the restart, one wonders whether the Allied Forces would have done any better?

Wegians3796It was not that Monivea buttoned off once they posted their points either, but that Galwegians went thermonuclear in response. The next 33minutes comprised some of the best junior rugby Deegan’s seen in decades.

“Scrums were even. Lineouts were even. The aerial kicking game probably went Daragh (Leader’s) way, but you couldn’t say it was an ‘advantage’ per se. Tackling all round was immense.

“And the last seven or eight minutes were incredible.”

He singled out Matt Dever for a tackle made in the midfield, and commended prop-forward Martin Fox’s fresh legs as tipping the scales ever-so-slightly in the hosts’ favour.

Given Galwegians’ senior status, its junior team risked a dearth of footy between now and the Easter Weekend cup final, but the fact 11 of the starting 15, and four of the bench are under21, it’s business-as-usual for the lion’s share in the interim. This fact alone makes them a very serious contender against their Junior 1B quarry, Loughrea in a little over a month’s time.

For the Ballina / Loughrea semi-final

http://domestic.connachtrugby.ie/201202272160/loughrea-homeguard-repels-ballina-invasion

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