Constitution scarcely deserved a bonus point victory in the final round of the Ulster Bank League but they will celebrate all the same, especially as it secures a home semi-final on Saturday against Young Munster, with Clontarf and UCD sparring at Castle Avenue in the other last four clash.
Constitution will thank centre Niall Kenneally for the sensational score that will boost club coffers, while it was a heartbreaking end to the campaign for Galwegians.
Visiting coach Matt Browne had hoped for an away win and there were long periods when it seemed his charges could deliver.
But, as Con somehow held a 19-16 advantage in injury time, he had given up on that dream and, as Ballynahinch were putting Garryowen to the sword, he was focusing on avoiding automatic relegation. He conveyed his message that a losing bonus point was imperative but that objective was destroyed when Kenneally seized on a stray pass to score under the posts to the delight of the Con fans.
Heartbroken Browne admitted: “That last play we planned to just have the ball kicked off the pitch, pick up the bonus point to get us in the relegation play-off but we know how the Con lads like to play and we paid for it. That pretty much put us back down to where we came up from, so it’s very disappointing after all that good rugby we played.”
Constitution’s Brian Hickey realised his side had gotten out of jail. “Defensively we were very poor. Our set-piece has fallen away a bit and we need to get working back on that again. Now, we’re at home to Young Munster, but that won’t make much difference because they will travel with great support and they’ve already beaten us down here.
“Munster’s have a very proud history for well over a 100 years and the geography of where it is on or whether it is a semi-final will not make any difference.”
M Abbott, N Kenneally, J Ryan, A Spring tries, T Quinlan 3 conversions)
C Brennan try, A Moynihan 3 penalties, conversion).
T Quinlan; A Spring, N Hodson, N Kenneally, R Jermyn; D Lyons, R Foley; L O’Connor, M Abbott, R Burke; C Kindregan, B Hayes; G Lawlor, J Ryan (captain), L Cahill.
B Quinlan, G Sweeney, J Murphy, J Poland, S Daly.
J Cleary; E O’Keeffe, C Brennan, A Phewhairangi, A Leavy; A Moynihan, B Lee; J Naughton, J Anaya (captain), J East; M Cummins, D Nolan; M Kelly, J Pim, A Ryan.
P Curran, M Towey, A McMahon, R Parata, C Kyne.
S Gaffikin (IRFU).