GWGN6054Galwegians Juniors skipped out to an early lead nine-nil up in the opening 20 of the Heineken Connacht Junior Cup final against Loughrea on Sunday.

That ascendancy kicked in again at the finish, but for the middle half-hour Loughrea applied themselves well and did all they could to put hands on the silverware. Where they fell down was at the contact, running as single bodies into two or three blue tacklers.

Galwegians, so dominant in pairs and threes on defence, isolated most Loughrea runners and slowed if not stunted much continuity thereafter.GWGN5889

Loughrea however, was dogged on defence. No matter how much Galwegians threw at them, the Loughrea tryline proved expensive real estate. Galwegians’ Dave Clarke puppeteered well from the midfield, his experience a crucial virtue for the blues against an ageing Loughrea.

Clarke opened his account with a penalty, chased that up with a dropgoal and not to be outdone Ross Shaughnessy followed suit with an ugly – but effective – dropgoal also.

Clarke added a second penalty to go 12-3 up on the stroke of halftime. No sooner had Galwegians shot out to a nine-point lead did Loughrea opt for the direct approach muscling their way from the restart 44m out to within the Wegians 22m. Darren Griffin needed little incentive to stretch his legs and made short work of the final rally to score for the Div 1B titleholders. Stephen Creaven couldn’t add the extras but took Loughrea to 11 with a second penalty halfway through the second spell.

Super-sub Ronan Moore grabbed the only try for Galwegians at the death, having followed some bruising forward play up the sideline. While Moore will grab the headline, another Ronan may take credit.

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Fullback Ronan Burke chimed in with a chip-and-chase effort to hem a lonely Loughrea outside back in his own in-goal area. While the scoreline suggests little doubt as to the result, Loughrea’s defensive effort far more befit a top-tier division one A team, than their 2011/12 one B station. And having fought well above their weight throughout Sunday afternoon’s sun, they proved to any detractors at the Sportsground they fully-deserved to be there. With a similar dedication to defensive integrity they will feature with distinction in next winter’s premier junior division.

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