Connacht Junior 1 League
Creggs’ bid for a Connacht Junior League title was maintained last Saturday night when they swatted away the feeble challenge of Castlebar at The Green. On the pitch this may have been a touch anti-climatic – such was the ease of victory – but it was an historic night as this was the first game of senior competitive rugby to be played on a 4G pitch in Connacht.
This writer had not seen the new facilities in Creggs until last weekend. They are truly magnificent and a credit to the club. The 4G pitch is artificial but there is plenty of ‘give’ in the surface, which makes it a fantastic pitch to play games on. What a legacy they are building for future generations – it was hard to believe that you were in a village of less than 200 people!
In the game itself, there isn’t that much to say except that Castlebar offered only token resistance – and that is taking liberties with the meaning of the word ‘token’. Save for a couple of moments in the scrum, Creggs looked like they would score every time they got the ball out wide, and the home side were very dangerous and impressive too with the ball in hand.
There was less than a minute on the clock when Shane Dowd whizzed through the non-existent Castlebar cover to touch down under the posts. Mark Brandon duly converted. A minute later it was Chris Duignan’s turn as Creggs turned over Castlebar ball in their own ’22. Mark Brandon’s conversion attempt fell short, but with just 140 seconds on the clock Creggs led by twelve points to nil.
It was all of 18 minutes before we witnessed another great Creggs try as Ronan Dowd moved through the gears to score, and then before half-time Kevin Gavin and Ronan Dowd again crossed the whitewash with Mark Brandon converting all three tries. The half-time score was 33-0.
The second half opened in similar fashion with the Creggs backline on fire. In the 35th minute Shane Dowd crossed for his second try in the corner and Kevin Gavin and Mark Brandon were in for more five-pointers in the 52nd and 55th minutes respectively to complete the scoring, 48-0 in favour of Creggs.
With a little over 60 minutes on the clock the referee called a halt to proceedings at the request of the Castlebar management – and it was probably a good decision. The way Creggs were playing it could have been a seventy or eighty point margin if the game was played to its conclusion.
While they are without five or six players through injury, Creggs are in a very strong position as they head into the final stages of the league. The big game comes in early February when they face great rivals Connemara at home.
Despite the ease of this victory, Pat Cunningham, Ger Dowd and the Creggs management will be very happy that they are maintaining their good form and they look a formidable side going forward. However, bigger tests lie ahead.
In the meantime, Creggs Rugby Club are now up there at or near the top in terms of their magnificent facilities and they should be very proud of what they have done thus far, with their complex to be finished over the next year or two.
Creggs: Ronan Dowd, Luke Meehan, Chris Duignan, Tom Callaghan, Kevin Gavin, Shane Dowd, Mark Brandon, Aidan Leech, Maurice Buckley, Eoghan Farrell, Kevin Brandon, Brian Donohue, Ronan Cahill, Peter Lohan, Brian Diffley. Replacements: Thomas Flynn, Sean Óg Higgins, Edward Clinton, Adrian Callaghan, Brian Coady.