Final Score: Ballinasloe 10 – Westport 7
Ballinasloe Rugby Club PRO, Liam Courtney has the full match report!
‘The Ballinasloe Junior Rugby team put in a huge second half performance to pull off a well deserved victory over former Junior Cup holders Westport at Tuam RFC grounds on Friday evening, April 17.
Originally fixed for Crowley Park, the late transfer to Tuam would have inconvenienced followers from both sides, however, those who made it to the well turned out north Galway venue were treated to a most entertaining and keenly contested game of rugby.
Westport would have entered the fray as the bookies favourites, following their recent historic win in the aforementioned Junior Cup. A question mark hung over Ballinasloe’s match sharpness due to a lack of game time in recent weeks but as it turned out, Noel Mannion and Kevin Tierney had their charges well primed for this contest.
Ballinasloe showed early eagerness and looked like the more purposeful side in the opening exchanges of the game, shading the territory and possession stakes. Their No.8, Kevin Gavin was posing a threat by taking the ball forward and breaking the gain line before Westport could re-group and cut off any developing danger.
They had an opportunity to take the lead after 13 minutes, but Ross Keller pulled his penalty kick to the left of the posts.
Minute’s later Westport flanker, Chris Ryan, brought play deep into the Ballinasloe half for the first time and there followed some smart passing by the Bulls backs to create a try for Kevin Corcoran – converted by Sean Tobin.
Keller was wide with a second kick at goal as an improving Westport pack was beginning to dominate in the scrum. It was third time lucky for Keller when he landed a penalty in the 34th minute after Westport were penalised for coming in at the side of a ruck.
As the Mayo side drove forward with menace they could have extended their lead before the break but Tobin was off target with a kick at goal. Leading 7-3 at half time, Westport looked as if their improving play in the later stages of the first period would see them home.
Both sides were prepared to play cagey rugby on the turnover, with little adventure to excite the followers in the stand. However, this was short lived, as Ballinasloe began to take the Bulls by the horns (no pun intended of course!) and upped their intensity.
Westport’s Conor Hastings carried the brunt for too many penalties conceded by his team and was yellow carded in the 54th minute. Cue now for Ballinasloe to introduce their talisman John Hayes from the bench and the hope for impact was about to be realised.
The winners were now playing with renewed spirit and brought grit and determination to their game that was not quite present earlier on. They drove forward like men possessed, playing much of the game inside the Westport 22. Westport were in a real dog fight and the question was: could they keep their try line intact?
Ballinasloe were like wolves at the door, continuing to bark. First Ross Keller and then J.J.Carey came close to breaching the Bulls defence. Conal Gormley made two searing bursts and still Liam Scahill and his colleagues held out. But the winner’s persistence paid off in the 69th minute when Hayes, with assistance from his pack, eventually barged over for the all important try.
Keller, now with his dander up, landed the conversion and Ballinasloe had nudged 10-7 ahead. One felt it was going to be the winning score as it never looked like being a high scoring game on the evening. Westport had one last bite of the cherry and put together a driving haul that started in their own half and made its way menacingly into Ballinasloe territory. A tense moment for players, management and spectators, but the winners held their nerve and discipline and turned the ball over – and the Cawley Cup was on its way to Graigueawoneen. Hard earned but oh so thoroughly deserved!
A. Mannion, D. Burke, C. Gormley, R. Cullinan, D. Freeman, R. Keller, M. Tierney, J.J. Carey, A.O’Hara, T. Dolan, M. Harrigan, K. Headd (capt), A. Loughrey, K. Gavin, R. Wakefield.
Subs: G. Donnellan, N. Staunton, H. Reynolds, J. Hayes, R. Sheppard,
Other Rugby News!
Congratulations to the Ballinasloe U14’s on capturing the Connacht Cup recently! They put in a big second half performance to overcome a strong Sligo side, finishing with an impressive score of 19-0. It was their second game in four days, having won the semi final on Wednesday April 15 .
U14 Connacht Cup Final
This Ballinasloe team secured its back-to-back Connacht Cup Title with a great victory over Buccaneers in the U14 final in the Sports ground on Sunday April 19 – following their victory over Sligo in last season’s U13 Connacht Cup.
In glorious albeit windy conditions, Ballinasloe started the game on the front foot, however, as in their victory over Corinthians in the semi-finals, they failed to take advantage of early pressure and soon found themselves on the back foot against a very physical and well drilled Buccaneers team.
Ódhran Dooley was an essential presence in defence, leading his pack superbly in repelling attack after attack. Meanwhile, James Carry had an excellent first half, relieving pressure on the team with some brilliant ball carrying and with the help of the excellent Jason Cunningham denying the Buccaneers of a try.
In the second half, Ballinasloe were on the offensive from the start, the forwards retained possession brilliantly to allow the backs to spread the ball out wide with Shane Jennings touching down in the corner.
Missing the conversion, Ballinasloe led 5-0 and they never looked back, continuing to pile pressure on the opposing team. The line-out was turned on its head as a result of putting massive pressure on the Buccaneers, forcing mistakes and stealing the ball with the excellent Ódhran Dooley, Oisin McCormack, Fergus Finneran, Luke Dunne and Paddy Grehan leading the way along with Jamie, Seamie and James who all carried well.
Cian Treacy, wearing number 10 for the local side played to the conditions superbly, increasing pressure and showcasing his great kicking skills throughout the match.
With 12 minutes to go, Ballinasloe deservedly scored their 2nd try – with Treacy picking out his winger Sean Horkan, sending him an excellent 40 metre cross field kick. Sean caught the ball 35 metres out and without breaking stride stepped inside his opposing number and finished brilliantly in the corner, despite best efforts of the Buccaneers fullback.
Treacy added an additional two scores to the scoreboard, extending his team’s lead to 12-0. As a result of a great team effort, Shane Jennings scored his 2nd try of the day, which again was brilliantly converted by Treacy to extend the lead to 19-0.
The celebrations at the final whistle were well deserved and displayed just how much this meant to the team, coaches and supporters.
The Ballinasloe Captain for the day, Cormac Finn stepped up to receive the Cup with his team-mates around him – the joy on their faces further proof of how much the win meant to them as a group.
According to management, ‘This team are a talented group with some exceptional individuals. It would be too easy to say this is why they win games, as there is much more to them than that. They train the way they play – with total commitment. They put in the hard yards with the pyramids, shuttle runs, the 5 minute runs (which tend to be 7 minute runs) and hail, rain or snow they are out there on the training field putting in a great effort. This bunch of lads put in a massive effort week in week out throughout the season, supported by their parents and again this season they received their rewards for the massive effort that they have put in.’
The management team would like to thank parents for their continued support.
– Tom, Gearóid & Derek
By Tom, Gearoid and Derek
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