|Unforced Errors Prove Crucial in the Far North|
Ballina Break Boys Club Hearts
In howling wind and mucky conditions, Ballina eked out an invaluable four-point victory over touring OLBC on Heffernan Park, Sunday.
Boys Club landed with a psychological advantage, 34-18 up in September. Once again, Sunday proved an intense, hard-fought encounter between two formidable league heavyweights. That both sides managed to complete the fixture testified to communal fortitude.
Boys Club boot Greg Faherty failed to account for the squally swirls with his first kick, albeit only just, slamming it into the upright paintwork. Ballina regathered and sent it spiralling to touch.
Having weathered the initial onslaught, Ballina began to exert their own control. The oppposition line-out was their first port of call, Orrie Collings and Connor Forde successfully disrupting several crucial throws. Rodney O'Donnell's darts found their mark on Ballina's own throw and the locals converted possession into territorial gain. Despite the weather, neither Boys Club nor Ballina devolved to 10-man rugby and sought expansive playmaking ahead of up-the-jumper mullicking.
Ballina halves Michael Murphy and Andy Moynihan sought their centres Cormac Quinn and Michael Allen at any available opportunity, and wing Trevor Moore carved off yards repeatedly. Faherty was not alone in suffering the pitfalls of a swirling breeze. Moynihan too fell short and wide with his chances.
Faherty broke the deadlock first with a penalty to open the second half, but both sides failed to convert rare chances deep in opposition territory. Ballina failed to kick off the required 10metres and Boys Club wound up with a string of penalties their way. Moynihan also struck the paintwork, as had his opposite, with his first chance of the second spell.
Staunch Boys Club defence denied Ballina a try despite several near misses, but attrition finally told when bulky eight Phillip Timoney crashed over to snare the lead from a 5m scrum. Moynihan added the extras. Former Ballina underager Paul McCreanor stormed into his former colleagues' 22m and laid back prime possession for the visitors, but a knock-on out wide as the line beckoned put paid to a last ditch Boys Club victory. A Ballina penalty buried well beyond the touchline signalled game over and Ballina claimed the critical four points.
Ballina meet Tuam in their next league fixture, and hope to dispose of Gort/Corrib's victor in their first Connacht Junior Cup encounter. Boys Club travel away to either one of Creggs or Carrick-on-Shannon in their first Cup hit-out.
BALLINA: Kevin McCarron, Trevor Moore, Cormac Quinn, Michael Allen, Francis Conroy, Andrew Moynihan, Michael Murphy (C), David Rowe, Rodney O’Donnell, Paul Newell, Mark Healy, Connor Forde, Laurence Leonard, Orrie Collins, Aidan McNulty, Alex Lee, Ciaran Melvin, Richard Kelly, Phillip Timoney, Robert Melody.
OLBC: Donnacha Carey, Peter Cosgrove, Dave Prior, Matt O’Mahoney, Conor Mulligan, Dave Dooley, Greg Faherty, James Walsh, Packie Curran, Paul McCreanor, James Moran (C), Sean Connolly, Stephen Casserly, Shane Connors, Tom Breen, Ray O’Neill, Peter Small, Eamonn Dowling, Killian O’Brien, Mark Purcell. REFEREE: Tom Horkan.