Matt Brown, the man behind Galwegians’ relentless surge to the top of Division 1B of the Ulster Bank League, must be one of the most unlikely head coaches of any club in the country.
Brown is a native of Leigh, near Wigan in Rugby League-mad Lancashire. He has lived in Ireland for the past eight years, earning his crust as a rugby union coach. And to rub salt in the wounds of Garryowen, the side Galwegians defeated 10-6 in a top of the table encounter on Saturday, he lives in Raheen only a stone’s throw from the Garryowen grounds at Dooradoyle!
“I took over at Galwegians at the start of this season when our primary aim was to maintain our Division 1B status”, Brown stated after his side had battled hard and courageously for the victory over Garryowen that stretched their lead to seven points at the top of the table. “This was a huge win for us. We were conscious of the strengths of a big Garryowen side. It was our biggest test on the road so far and I am delighted at the way we stood up to the challenge.”
The outcome was effectively decided in a short period just after half-time when the sides were tied at 3-3, a penalty for Garryowen by Jamie Gavin against another for ’Wegians by John Cleary. On the advice of his touchjudge, referee Oisin Quinn showed a red card to Garryowen full-back Alex Wootton. Almost immediately, Barry Lee kicked a penalty to within five metres of the opposition line and Doran Hugh got the touch down from the resulting maul. Cleary converted and in spite of enjoying a lot of possession going forward, a succession of handling errors proved Garryowen’s undoing. All they could manage was a second penalty by Gavin.
Galwegians are now seven points clear of Ballymena and 11 ahead of Garryowen after nine matches and if they can maintain this level of performance, their return to the top division for the first time since 2008/09 seems assured.
GALWEGIANS: J Cleary; M Dever, B Murphy, G O’Brien, J Harimate; D Clarke, B Lee; J Naughton, C Gavin, D McHugh, M Cummins, B McClearn, M Towey, J Pimm, A Ryan. Rolling replacements – R Shaughnessy, C Conroy, P Hackett, P O’Donnell, P McCreanor.
GARRYOWEN: A Wootton; J Frawley, A O’Byrne, C Doyle, J McInerney; J Gavin, J Glynn; P O’Shea, E Rossiter, B Rowley, P McCarroll, A McCluskey, J Hrstich, D Mulcair, D Sherry.
Rolling replacements: J M Griffin, B McNamara, E Fitzgerald, N Cronin, L Bourke.
Referee: Oisin Quinn (IRFU).