Grey day for All Blacks at The Green!

Connemara’s TJ Barry and Paul Lee tackle Brian Donohue of Creggs during last Saturday’s Connacht Junior Cup quarter-final. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

In international rugby the All Blacks are the team to beat – at Connacht Junior Rugby level the Connemara All Blacks carry a similar reputation in relative terms. Last Saturday night Creggs welcomed the renowned west Galway club to the village for a Connacht Junior Cup quarter-final. A huge crowd turned out to see the contest, possibly the biggest attendance ever at a game at The Green.

It was a chance for Creggs to once again showcase their magnificent facilities. Indeed the club’s new stand was bursting at the seams for the match. The rain swept downfield from the village end and a big crowd of noisy visiting fans made their presence felt from the kick-off.

However, it was the home side that dominated early on. In fact the All Blacks never even got near the Creggs line in the first half. Converted tries from Eoghan Coyle and Mark Purcell saw the home side ahead by 14-0 at the break. Indeed if Shane Purcell had converted three further penalty opportunities the game could have been over at half-time.

Creggs’ David Gacquin and captain Brian Diffley jumping for joy as Eoghan Coyle goes over for a try during last Saturday’s Connacht Junior Cup quarter-final against Connemara All Blacks. Pic: Bernie O’Farrell

Needless to say Connemara were much better with the elements at their backs in the second half. Still, you always got the feeling that this was going to be a big night for Creggs. The All Blacks reduced the margin to seven with a converted try in the 57th minute, and ten minutes later they got over in the corner for another. The conversion was missed on this occasion, leaving a slender two-point gap.

Precarious that lead may have been, but Creggs held out for a historic 14-12 win. The Connemara All Blacks have broken the hearts of Creggs on numerous occasions over the years – but not this time. At the final whistle, the Creggs players celebrated enthusiastically, while local fans cheered a memorable victory, many heading off to relive the match in the local pubs.

Mind you, it was only a quarter-final. There is much water to flow under the bridge before any talk of  silverware would be justified. But Creggs crossed this formidable bridge on Saturday evening. There have been many great days at The Green over the years, and this memorable one was up there with any of them.