Victory will be a huge confidence boost for the Galway city club that has been out of Division 1A since the 2008/9 season, and it was also their first victory over the illustrious opponents at Crowley Park.
The hosts capitalised on a misfiring Con lineout as early as the fifth minute when Connacht Academy flanker Sean O’Brien grabbed possession from an overthrow, and swift passing caught the Cork cover out with centre Cormac Brennan, a Connacht Academy recruit, touching down before out-half Aidan Moynihan added the extras.
Con, with the wind, enjoyed plenty of possession, and their superior scrum was the foundation for their best attacks, anchored by front rowers Brendan Quinlan, Max Abbott and Ger Sweeney. JJ O’Neill added potency to Con’s backline, but they blew a possible try with a two-man overlap, while Tomás Quinlan’s super break also came to nothing when Con turned over ball at the breakdown.
Although Con lost full-back Daragh Lyons, playing his 14th season in the AIL, to the sin-bin, they kept the hosts out for the remainder of the half. At the other end, Quinlan kicked two penalties to leave his side a point adrift (7-6) at the break. Con continued to dominate the possession stakes early in the second half, but their failure to secure clean lineout ball and clear their lines paved the way for Wegians’ second try. Replacement Caolin Blade played his part, helping to suck in the Con cover, and Ed O’Keeffe profited out wide when Con ran out of numbers.
When Wegians’ Juan Anaya was binned, Con grabbed the initiative - openside John Ryan breaking from the scrum before Higgins fed Desmond who dived over in the right corner. Quinlan missed the touchline conversion to leave a point between the sides, but it was the home side who finished the stronger. Con were let off the hook twice with Brian Murphy dropping the ball inches from the line and Dave Clarke’s late penalty hitting the post.
G Tynan, D Symes, C Brennan, B Murphy, E O’Keeffe, A Moynihan, B Lee, J Naughton, J Dineen, J East, A Muldowney, M Commins, S O’Brien, J Pimm, A Ryan.
C Blade for Symes, D Clarke for Moynihan, M Kelly for Pimm, J Anaya for Dineen, D McHugh for East, East for Naughton.
D Lyons, K Dersmond, JJ O’Neill, N Hodson, R Jermyn, T Quinlan, J Higgins, B Quinlan, M Abbott, G Sweeney, B Hayes, C Kindregan, C O’Flaherty, J Ryan, L Cahill.
A Slattery for Duffy, S O’Dwyer for Kindregan, A Ryan for Higgins, R Horgan for Jermyn.
S Gaffikin (IRFU).