BALLINASLOE RETURN TO WINNING WAYS
BALLINASLOE 9 CONNEMARA 8
Every sporting cliché regarding fortunate wins could be rolled out to describe this narrowest of victories for Ballinasloe over Connemara at Graigueawoneen on Sunday. It could scarcely be closer at 9pts to 8 with the home side getting a huge rub of the green but nevertheless Ballinasloe will gladly take it. How often have they, themselves, toiled manfully in recent seasons only to lose out by a narrow margin at the finish? When the Gods smile on you then don’t look the gift horse in the mouth.
Connemara would have travelled into the west on Sunday evening wondering at how a losing bonus point was all that they could show for their afternoon’s endeavour especially considering their second half dominance. Yet despite the possession and territory stats showing greatly in their favour for the second half, they rarely threatened the Ballinasloe try line with any real intent as the home defence stood firm. They spurned a number of kicks at goal and perhaps therein lies the tale of this game.
The opening exchanges were fairly even with both sides testing each other for possible openings. Connemara took the lead after 12mins when Ballinasloe were penalised for going in off their feet at a ruck and David McDonagh floated over the resultant penalty. A break by Andy O’Hara into the Connemara half was the catalyst for Ruaidhri Doolan kicking an equalising penalty after 20mins. The visitors had an opportunity to restore their lead three minutes later but a kick at goal fell short.
The locals went ahead in the 27th minute when Doolan landed a forty metre penalty after Connemara were pinged for off side. The visitors upped the tempo as the half wore on and their winning of quick ball at the break down and strong running was proving a tricky problem for the home side whose bigger pack would have preferred a tighter type of game. Their pacey approach paid dividends in the 36th minute when a crisp passing movement saw full back, Jack Vaughan, run in a try with the conversion being missed. They were wide with another penalty kick a minute later before Doolan landed his third penalty from way out on the left hand touch line that turned out to be the last score of the game.
Ballinasloe started the second half as if they meant real business and had the men from the west back pedalling in the opening minutes. When a sloppy passing movement broke down, Connemara hacked the ball away into Ballinasloe territory and, inexplicably, the home side saw little action in their opponents half for the remainder of the game. Connemara pinned them back into their own twenty two metre line but the visitor’s expectations of a score fest failed to materialise. They were off target with two kickable penalties which would have not helped their confidence as time ticked on. Yes, Ballinasloe were under severe pressure at times but a well organised defence held firm and this allied to a superior scrum saw them through to the finish.
BALLINASLOE: M.Tierney, E.Croffy, C.Gormley, R.Cullinan, Cian Loughrey, R.Doolan, Conor Loughrey, K.Gavin, A.O’Hara(capt), T.Dolan, N.Staunton, M.Harrigan, A.Loughrey, J.Hayes, A.Doorley. Replacements: (all used) J.J.Carey, K.Headd, R.Wakefield, J.Kelly, D.Freeman.
Ballinasloe’s next outing is their league fixture away to Westport on Sunday, K.O. 2.30 PM.
Ballinasloe Dev. Squad 10 Connemara 2nd XV 10
Ballinasloe and Connemara also clashed in this Div2 league game at Moher on Sunday last where two evenly matched sides played out a 10-10 draw. Both sides were willing to give it a go early on and the locals were unlucky not to take a 14th minute lead when David Freeman stroked a penalty to the left of the uprights. Ballinasloe looked the more likely winners as the half progressed and with the experienced Richie Sheppard and the returning Robert Ahern lending their know-how to matters things were looking up for the home side.
A James Dillon try, converted by David Freeman who also added a penalty had the hosts 10pts to the good at the break.
The visitors came more into the game in the second period and proved their worth with a John Mannion try and a Darren Little conversion and penalty to have both sides level with 15mins left to play. Neither team availed of chances to pull the game out of the fire in the closing stages and a draw was a fair outcome.
Ballinasloe: P.Connolly, R.Ahern, J.Dillon, P.Larkin, N.Byrnes, R.Sheppard, D.Freeman, L.Hines, A,Moloney, G.Donnellan, J.Curley, T.Freeman, A.McGrath, E.Clogher, V.Naughton. Replacements: D.Tierney, K.Dolan.
Ballinasloe’s U19s travelled to Crowley Park to take on Galweigans in the league on Sunday and came away with 38pts to 10 victory. A tight first half saw the visitors 12pts to 5 ahead at the interval before pulling away for a clear cut win at the end. Scorers for Ballinasloe: E. McCormack( 2tries and 2 convs. ), P.Flannery, J.Codyre, D.O’Hara, S.Tierney( 1try each ), S.Keller( 2 convs. ).
The U17s(B) defeated Buccaneers at home on Saturday evening by 35pts to 7.
Our U15s opened proceedings at the club grounds on Sunday morning when taking on Corinthians in the league going down by 25 pts to 19.They were slow to react to some of the visitors attacking moves in the opening half and conceded two tries. Ballinasloe put in a cracking second half performance but left themselves with too much to do to pull off a late win. Scorers for Ballinasloe were: K.Manning(2 tries), J.Devine(1 try), J.Canning(2 convs).
Ballinasloe U14s received a walk-over from Westport.
Congratulations to Ballinasloe’s U15s girls side on their comfortable league win over Creggs at the week-end. They have been making steady progress since their recent blitz outing in Athlone and this win will give them great encouragement as they go on to tackle their Galweigan counterparts on Friday evening next.
Liam Courtney, Club PRO