The Galway Tribesmen Rugby League club launched their 2018 campaign with a comfortable win over the Athy Sharks last Saturday.
After the disappointment of the ROI final defeat last year the Tribesmen were keen to get back to winning ways.
As is always the case on the opening weekend, both teams featured a number of debutants who were guided by their more experienced team mates and it didn’t take long for the Tribesmen to register their first score of 2018 when Matthew ‘Shaggy’ Towey crossed the line after four minutes.
The reliable boot of Conor Loughrey added two points for the conversion and the Tribesmen were six points to the good. Soon after, it was the turn of the sharks to apply the pressure and repeat sets in the Tribesmen danger zone due to a goal line drop out resulted in a try from the Kildare men.
As the game settled down the Tribesmen looked more composed with a structured attack and great defensive organisation and it paid dividends with a succession of tries from captain Seosamh McDonagh, Cian Nugent and Josh Nugent. With Loughrey slotting over 2 of the 3 conversion opportunities the score was 22-4 to the Galway men.
Loughrey then added his own try and converted it around the half hour mark and it looked like the Tribesmen were heading for the half time interval with a comfortable lead. However a late rally from the Sharks in last ten minutes of the half resulted in a couple of tries and one conversion to put the half time scores at 28-16 to the Tribesmen.
The second half began exactly how the first half had, with Towey making a break and scoring underneath the posts which was then converted by Loughrey.
The next 15 minute spell was a scrappy affair with both teams producing handling errors and conceding penalties.
Pressure from Athy near the Galway goal nearly resulted in a score but tenacious defending kept them out and the ball was eventually handed over.
Once again a break down the middle of the field from Towey resulted in his third try of the afternoon which was then duly converted by Loughrey.
This score provided relief from the Athy attack and allowed the Tribesmen to refocus and apply further pressure on the Sharks defence.
As the half progressed the Galway men converted the pressure into points with Loughrey and McDonagh scoring their second tries.
A break down the right wing also resulted in a try for debutant Andrew McBreen who was the 18th man on the day but was drafted into the squad just before kick-off as result of an injury in the pre-match warmup.
The Sharks were not finished though and they scored a further two converted tries in the closing stages.
The last word however, went to the Tribesmen when Sean O’Gorman touched down with a minute of play left. That put the scores at 58-28 to the men from the west and that how the game finished.
The Tribesmen will now face the Dublin City Exiles next week at home at Southpark, The Claddagh. The last meeting between the two teams was in the ROI semi-final last year when the Tribesmen were eventual winners so next week promises to be intriguing battle. Kick off at 2.30pm.
Words by Thomas Hynes of the Galway Tribesmen.