The drought is over
Greystones RFC 17 Galwegians RFC 13
The drought is finally over for injury ravaged Greystones RFC. Kevin Lewis' walking wounded side brought their five-game losing streak to an end with a hard-fought and extremely tense 17-13 victory over eighth placed Galwegians. Saturday's triumph, achieved on the club's 80th anniversary, saw 'Stones climb off the foot of the table.
It seemed like nearly half of the squad joined me in the stands, at least two sporting medically protective boots as a depleted side took to the field in search of Greystones' first victory.
Captain Andrew Kealy calmed the nerves early on with a third minute penalty but by the fifth minute, David Clarke had levelled matters with a placed kick of his own.
The hosts seemed intent on using Bobby Clancy in the backline as much as possible early on but Galwegians didn't flinch when faced with the battering ram.
A second penalty from the boot of Kealy on 19 minutes from 40 yards nudged the Co. Wicklow club back into the lead.
Again, the Galway men had a chance for an instant reply as within two minutes, they were awarded a penalty just inside the Greystones half.
They opted to kick to the corner and Morgan Codyre didn't disappoint as he moved his side to within eight yards of the holy grail.
Galwegians collected their own line-out and hit 'Stones with a maul which ended with number eight Jack Winters peeling off the base and smuggling the ball over the line. A short conversion meant that Greystones remained within two points.
From the restart, Galwegians almost caught Greystones cold but Jack Keating executed a vital tackle to put his man in touch just as it looked like the visitors may be about to exploit a stretched home defence.
The heavens had opened up ever so briefly prior to the match but Kevin Lewis must have been looking to the heavens and asking for a break when he saw Barry Lynn, and subsequently Charlie Kenny, limp off.
Greystones' followers were on their feet and ready to roar Jack Keating home in the 27th minute but a touch judge ruined their fun.
Having been put under pressure by a kick-and-chase from winger Matt O'Brien, Galwegians Daniel Carr cleared his lines but allowed Greystones the option for a quick line-out. They grabbed the opportunity with both hands and sent the ball out to Keating on the right flank.
He chipped over the covering defender's head and cleanly scooped up the bouncing ball but just as he was about to romp home, the touch judge's flag was raised and a collective groan rumbled from the stands.
Their wait for a try lasted a mere two minutes longer. Hooker Ben Tou launched a line-out beyond the assembled packs and into the hands of the advancing Keating. He danced forwards and laid it off to Andy Roberts who ran it home in a fantastically executed pre-planned drill.
Keating was agonisingly close to adding two more points but the woodwork denied him and left the gap at three points in Greystones' favour at the interval.
Greystones only managed two scores in the second 40 minutes of action and the first of those arrived four minutes into the second period.
Much credit must go to Tou as it was he who ripped possession which lead to the awarding of a penalty moments later. It was 35 yards out and to the left but Kealy's strike scraped over.
The tie could almost have been wrapped up in the 47th minute. Galwegians had a scrum in their own 22 and scrum-half Rory Gaffney tried to relieve the pressure with a box kick.
He hadn't planned on being blocked down by Barry Fitzpatrick and whilst Gaffney drunkenly spun around looking for the ball, Fitzpatrick charged clean through and dove towards it - only to fumble it on the try-line.
With Galwegians probing, the Greystones defence was under fierce scrutiny but they stood tall and firm and survived two penalty kicks to the corner on 53 and 57 minutes respectively - the second of which was definitely a kickable opportunity.
Galwegians introduced Justin Coen into their backline and he was a breath of fresh air. Having been fed by Brian Murphy, Coen darted through the defensive line but was let down at the last second as his elaborate attempt to hand-off to Gaffney did not go to plan.
Coen set panic bells ringing again in the 71st minute as he broke through again. Greystones kept this attack at bay for several phases but the pressure finally told as Hugh Lane touched down to minimal celebrations. It was an extremely difficult angle for the conversion and the miss meant that Greystones remained ahead by the minimum amount.
Panic levels almost subsided for 'Stones with five minutes remaining as Killian Marmion found a gap in the visiting defence. He moved the ball left to O'Brien who was stopped just short of the try-line and was unable to release the ball to a team-mate.
Greystones won a penalty in stoppage time and were faced with the dilemma of stick or twist - ease the pressure by adding three points or risk going for a try which would ensure that Galwegians don't collect a losing bonus point? Greystones decided it was better safe than sorry and Kealy put the icing on the cake on a wonderful afternoon for Greystones Rugby Club.
Greystones: Killian Marmion, Jack Keating, Con Callan, Barry Lynn, Matt O'Brien, Andrew Kealy, Andy Roberts; Bobby Clancy, Ben Tou, Conor Pierce, Michael Douglas, Barry Fitzpatrick, Cormac O'Donoghue, Eoin Marmion, Mick Doyle. SUBS: Kevin Moes, Shane Mulvaney, Charlie Kenny, Michael Kirk, Craig Hazelton.
Galwegians RFC: Hugh Lane, Daniel Carr, Brian Murphy, David Clarke, Rory Dempsey, Morgan Codyre, Rory Gaffney; Patrick Curran, John Moloney, Jason East, Eoin Tarmey, Martin Cummins, Anthony Ryan, Paul Hackett, Jack Winters. SUBS: Callum Torpey, Martin Fox, Matthew Towey, Justin Coen, Richie Fahey.
Referee: Jonathan Peak.
Venue: Dr. Hickey Park, Greystones.