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Garryowen face ‘Wesley’ at home this Sunday

By Pat Reidy
IT’S survival time for Garryowen in 1A of the All-Ireland League and they need to win their next two games if they are to remain in the top echelon of Irish club rugby next season.
They can expect a good crowd in Dooradoyle next Sunday for Wesley’s first visit in quite a while, though they may have depleted selection options given Munster A’s game in the B and I Cup final next weekend.
Injuries and Munster call-ups have contributed to Garryowen’s woes this season with key players, such as out-half Jamie Gavin (quad injury) , draining their reserves.
For practically the entire opening half last Saturday on the back pitch of the Aviva Stadium Garryowen FC had no answer to the pace, power and precision of Lansdowne FC and though the Dooradoyle side did typically respond in boisterous fashion in the third quarter, it was not enough to seriously ruffle the feathers of a very strong Dublin outfit.
Behind after just 80 seconds, albeit courtesy of a clearly forward pass missed by a linesman who was more intent on interacting with sideline personnel than performing his primary function, Garryowen’s plight gradually deteriorated as the half wore on. 28-3 down at the interval, the game was probably up in terms of salvation, though mementarily in the second half the totality of all scores briefly had them safe on points difference. That slender sliver of hope disappeared simultaneously both on the Aviva “plastic” and elsewhere.
It was the last action of the regular season Ulster Bank All Ireland Division 1A schedule and Garryowen could not have had a more demanding ask than to attempt a win at the Aviva, a challenge that, not surprisingly, proved beyond them. More importantly though they have home advantage in the play-off semi final on Saturday afternoon next. The kick off time is not yet known.
The team that prevails in the clash with Old Wesley RFC will face either UL Bohemians RFC or Naas RFC in the game that will decide who plays in Division 1A in season 2017/18. The team with highest league seeding, I believe, will have home advantage in that ultimate decider.
The “light blues” responded to their interval plight with a heartening response to get to 28-17 and hope and survival briefly stuck its head above the daunting parapet. Garryowen’s buccaneering style discomfitted their hosts, a few other scoring chances were spurned but they succeeded in pressuring the home side to the extent that two of their number were “binned”. Having thrown off the shackles and going flat out, Garryowen can be proud of their third quarter feat that featured converted tries from Steve Mc Mahon and Bailey Faloon and they put it up to the Dubs for half an hour.
Sadly for Garryowen Lansdowne recovered their mojo and with ten minutes remaining, in their first foray into Garryowen territory in the entire half, they slammed shut the door with an unconverted try and added another converted one soon afterwards to win out 40-17 at the end of a tie that for some odd reason featured no injury at all, not that it would have mattered to the outcome. The Garryowen folk found that ironic as it was an eighth minute injury time try that cost them automatic survival at Cork Con a few weeks ago.
Garryowen’s total was completed by a Neil Cronin penalty to add to his brace of conversions.
Garryowen Lined out as follows; 15. Alex Wootton, 14. Steve McMahon, 13. Hugh O’Brien Cunningham, 12. Peadar Collins, 11. Liam Coombes; 10. Andrew O’Byrne, 9. Neil Cronin {captain}; 1.Niall Horan, 2. Eamonn Costelloe, 3. J.P. Phelan, 4. Sean O’Connor, 5. Bara O’Byrne, 6. Dara Shanahan, 7. Mikey Wilson, 8. Bailey Faloon.
Replacements: Jamie Heuston,Barry McNamara,Anson Thai, Tim Ferguson and Sam Gleeson.
Referee: Gary Conway, IRFU.

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