Galway Tribesmen relishing Challenge Cup visit to St Helens
A piece of history will be made at Ruskin Drive on Saturday when Pilkington Recs entertain all-Ireland champions Galway Tribesmen in the first round of the Betfred Challenge Cup, kick-off 2.30.pm.
It is the first-ever competitive meeting between the two clubs and in the past few weeks the Irish club have been trying to raise the £10,000 travelling costs via the generosity of the local community.
They were originally drawn at home but had to switch the tie to St Helens under the terms set out regarding their entry into the competition.
Thomas Hynes, who founded the club in 2012, said: “We’re proud and honoured to take part in such a prestigious tournament and can't wait to get involved and show people what we’re about.”
The current All-Ireland champions make the journey across the Irish Sea with high hopes, but it hasn’t always been plain sailing.
Hynes said: “Rugby League wasn’t really played in Connacht, so a few people came together to create a team that could compete in the RL tournaments.
“It was really tough at the beginning, but in subsequent years we’ve grown a lot and made huge strides. Many people have contributed to our growth and we were proud to field a women’s team – Galway Tribeswomen – for the first time last season.
“To improve year on year is the aim and competing in such a prestigious competition will hopefully be a catalyst for that."
'They will also take confidence from the 30-16 Grand Final victory over rivals Dublin City Exiles back in August as they look to start this year like they finished the last but are aware of the challenge posed by Pilkington Recs on Saturday.
Hynes said: “We’re playing one of the best amateur sides in the game, but no tie would’ve been an easy one and whatever the outcome.it’ll be a memorable experience.”
The squad will sail over on Friday evening and are set to arrive in St Helens at 2am - just over 12 hours before kick-off.
Hynes insists this isn’t an issue for the team and said: “They won’t let anything get in the way. They’re focused and ready, they’re taking this very seriously and there’s a lot of confidence amongst the players. They can’t wait to show what they can do.”
But favourites Pilkington will also be looking to progress into round two where they will entertain either Siddal or Great Britain Police.
NeighboursThatto Heath Crusaders are away to Lock Lane (Castleford), the winners travelling to three-times winners, Oldham.