MONIVEA secured a first ever Connacht Junior league and Cup double at the Sportsground on a bitterly cold easter Sunday with a three try victory over Galwegians.
A blistering opening set the tone for their attacking game plan. They also capitalised on almost every opportunity that came their way during the 80 minutes and combined that with one of the grittiest and tenacious defensive efforts they’ve ever produced.
Scoring at key junctures is the mark of champions and Monivea have become the masters of this art during the last decade and a bit. Their three tries came 90 seconds after kick off, 90 seconds before half time and 90 seconds after half time. Each score, an absolute hammer blow to Galwegian hopes.
The sky blues were defending their title with largely the same core group of young players that stormed to the crown last season. The current crop of emerging under 21 talent in the club makes them a formidable obstacle at full strength, but they came into this final with very little continuity and only a handful of seconds games at full strength.
That was a factor in their inability to turn long periods of second half dominance, with the wind, into tries but another key factor was Monivea’s unyielding effort in defence. Tackle after tackle went in during the final quarter, chopping the young Wegian side down at the ankles and competing at rucks.
The game started with a bang. A Monivea lineout after 60 seconds saw Bernie Ryan find Dave Mahon, he handed the ball to Darren Blade who whipped it into the centre where Kevin Higgins charged through making 12 metres deep into their opponents 22.
A quick release to the backline gave Rory O’Connor the platform he needed, he took on his man on the outside using his exceptional pace then deftly off-loaded to Seamus Fahy, who had supported along the touchline to score in the corner for a 5-0 lead.
Over the next 20 minutes Galwegians laid out a firm case for victory with a quick penalty from Ross Shaughnessy in response steadying their nerves. Against the elements, they retained possession well after that and were gaining ground on each attack.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.