Ballina 10 26 Corinthians

(In Heffernan Park, Ballina)

A cruelty that sometimes surfaces in sport is that on occasion performance is not reflected in results. Last week Ballina suffered a one point defeat earning a bonus point in the process, this week they were beaten by a considerably larger margin and it was their opponents that earned the bonus point in the process, but paradoxically it was a far better performance by Ballina in Corinthian Park on Sunday. From the kick off Ballina were able to apply a lot of pressure on their hosts. With a solid set piece in both scrum and lineout providing the possession Ballina were camped in Corinthians 22. Strong running and quickly recycled ball brought play right up to the try line with half backs Michael Murphy and Sam Johnson controlling play well and forwards Ciaran Melvin, Richard Kelly and centre Jerome Harrimate to the fore, but ultimately Ballina failed to cross the line and when a player was isolated the siege was lifted on the Corinthians line. When Ballina were later penalised for an early engagement in a scrum inside their own half the Galway men took the penalty quickly and with some good hands moved the ball wide which culminated in scrum half Lorcan Duffy being put away down the left wing. The scrambling Ballina defence missed the flying half back and couldn’t prevent him racing in to score beside the posts. Out half Padraic Cuddy added the conversion so, perhaps a little against the run of play up until then, Ballina trailed 7-0. Undaunted, from the restart the visitors took the game to their opponents straight away and their pressure forced Corinthians into conceding a penalty just outside their 22 to the right of the posts.

Sam Johnson attempted to kick the points for Ballina but his effort drifted wide and the score line was unaltered. There was much endeavour from both sides but Ballina were penalised frequently, handling the ball in the ruck being commonly the offence. Corinthians were also undoing a lot of their efforts with ill discipline and error and when their hooker Alan Walsh gave away an indirect penalty for delaying the throw in to a lineout inside his own half, Ballina took it quickly, and initiated a phase of attacking play that included a great break by Ciaran Melvin who linked up with fellow front row colleagues Alex Lee and Richard Kelly providing good support. Ballina didn’t score from this passage of play but did remain camped in their opponents 22 and eventually another penalty kick opportunity came Sam Johnson’s way when Corinthians were penalised for coming into a ruck from the side. Unfortunately this kick also went wide but within a minute he had another chance as the home team were penalised for holding onto the ball on the ground.

Although he struck this kick well Johnson’s effort again was wide. Jerome Harrimate made a good break down the left wing for Ballina after combining well with Francis Conroy and a promising attack appeared to be developing for the visitors, but Harrimate was hit with a late tackle and after a skirmish between players from each side Harrimate and Aengus Connell his opposite number on the Corinthians team were both shown yellow cards and sidelined. It was Corinthians who scored next after a good passage of play which paid dividends when the ball was moved wide and Ballina were once more found wanting as winger Colin Hegerty raced in for his side’s second try which Padraic Cuddy converted. Despite this set back Ballina retained the intensity which they brought to the game and the pressure they exerted on their opponents after the restart paid dividends when they earned a penalty which Sam Johnson converted with a well struck kick to open the scoring for the Mayo men.

Before half time both sides were restored to 15 men as the sin bin period expired but there was no more scores recorded in the first half so at the break Ballina still trailed 14-3. In the second half there was some untidy play from both sides. Corinthians kicked off but had men in front of the kicker. From the scrum on the half way line that ensued Ballina sloppily allowed the ball to slip out the side where it was seized by Lorcan Duffy for the Galway side. There followed a deterioration in the set piece play by both sides with Corinthians conceding penalties in the scrum and Ballina failing to secure their lineout ball. Ballina’s second row Kieran Bourke was forced off by injury and he was replaced by back row player Henry Hewson. The subsequent reorganisation of the scrum had a detrimental effect for the visitors and soon this became a problem area for Ballina who introduced prop Brendan Barrett for Ciaran Melvin in an effort introduce another fresh player to the Ballina eight.

Winger Tyrone De Silva was later replaced by Robert Melody and centre Michael Allen by Cory Brown. A good break by prop Tom Stapleton for the home side took play into Ballina’s 22 however and when possession was retained and spread wide by Padraic Cuddy inevitably Ballina’s defence was stretched and second row Donnacha Phelan touched down for his side’s third try. Cuddy appeared to have kicked over a good conversion but the Referee thought otherwise and Cuddy was penalised when he voiced his dissent so Ballina had a penalty on the halfway line to restart. They remained on the offensive in Corinthians half and with Brendan Barrett carrying the ball well for them they took play right up to the try line. Sam Johnson and Cory Brown picked out the gaps and this time it was Ballina’s second row Stephen Dolan who crashed over and recorded a try for his side. A great kick five metres from the right touchline by Sam Johnson added the conversion to his sides tally and the score was now 19-10. John Keaveney was now on at hooker for the North Mayo side who now hoped to push on with their claw back the 9 points that separated the sides.

Francesco Lo Bartolo fielded well on the wing and showed great pace when counter attacking, Harrimate always took the ball forward even in the most unpromising of circumstances and Sam Johnson and Cory Brown were combining well, particularly on one occasion when they put number 8 Aidan McNulty away into space. Corinthians scrum half Lorcan Duffy was probably fortunate to only receive a yellow card for a spear tackle on Robert Melody but Ballina were now struggling in the set piece and for the 10 minute period of Duffy’s absence they failed to capitalise by registering a score, the closest being a penalty kick attempt by Johnson which was wide. When Corinthians were restored to 15 it was they who scored the try which earned them the bonus point. It was scored by number 8 Mattie Flynn in the last passage of play in the game after some powerful running and ball carrying by his team mates. Cuddy added the conversion which was the last act of the game giving his side a 16 point victory 26-10. Next week Ballina host Westport at home in what will be a tough derby game and one they will be determined to return to winning ways in. The match kicks off at 2.30pm              

CORINTHIANS; Ciaran Dunne, Dara Bree, Aengus O’Connell, Sean Byrne, Colin Hegerty, Padraic Cuddy, Lorcan Duffy, Tom Stapleton, Alan Walsh, Cathal O’Shea, Peader Tonery, Donnacha Phelan, Colin Raftery, Kim Williams, Matty Flynn, Kelly Ryan, Aodhan Glynn, Craig Joyce.

BALLINA; Francis Conroy, Francesco Lo Bartolo, Jerome Harrimate, Michael Allen, Tyrone De Silva, Sam Johnson, Michael Murphy (C), Ciaran Melvin, Richard Kelly, Alex Lee, Stephen Dolan, Kieran Bourke, Conor Mason, Orrie Collins, Aiden McNulty, John Keaveney, Brendan Barrett, Henry Hewson, Robert Melody, Cory Brown.

REFFEREE; Daithi Flood.

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