Connacht Junior League Div 1A
BALLINA          17
GALWEGIANS 14
(In Heffernan Park, Ballina)
In a game where all the points were scored in the first half, two trys from Captain Michael Murphy along with two conversions and a penalty from the boot of Sam Johnson were enough to overcome the efforts of a gallant Galwegians team who scored two trys themselves, one apiece from Matt Dever and Doran McHugh both of which were converted by Ronan Bourke. The fact that all the points were scored in the first half might suggest that this was a dour or poor quality encounter, especially in the second half, but that would be misleading as from kick off until the final whistle this was an excellent contest between two very good sides committed to moving the ball and playing running rugby and yet capable of the hard work and more direct game when required. Five minutes into the game Ballina opened the scoring when, after a period of sustained pressure by them, they were awarded a penalty outside the Galwegians 22, to the right of the posts.Aiden Mc Nutly charging forward for Ballina564 It was the result of sustained attacking play of multiple phases in which centers Michael Allen and Jerome Harrimate, full back Connor Dever and forwards Markjoesph Healy and Phillip Timoney were all to the fore. Johnson struck his kick very well and it sailed over to give Ballina a 3-0 lead. From the very beginning Galwegians ran the ball at every opportunity, which led to an open and very entertaining encounter. Ballina had to be alert and diligent in their defense from very early on and none relished this task more than Orrie Collins the hard working number 6 who got through a phenomenal amount of bone shuddering tackles with impressive zeal. When Ballina weren’t sufficiently vigilant they payed the price, as was the case when Galwegians scrum-half Martin Connolly took a quick tap penalty and before Ballina’s defense had even retreated the required 10 metres the fleet footed Galwegians had got within five metres of the hone team’s try line. When the ball was quickly passed out from the breakdown it was center Matt Dever who ran in and touched down. Out-half Ronan Burke made no mistake with the conversion so his team now led 7-3. The game ebbed and flowed between the sides with each finding gaps and opportunity when in possession, but it was pressure on their opponents when the Galway city men had the ball that yielded Ballina the next score. When Ronan Burke tried to kick down field just inside his 22 his effort was blocked by the industrious Michael Murphy who also managed to pick up the ball and race in and score under the posts. Johnson made no mistake with the conversion and Ballina’s lead was restored 10-7. Connor Dever was an excellent attacking force for Ballina and veteran winger Tyrone De Silva was uncompromising when chasing kicks ahead, on one stand out occasion making up great ground and putting in a great tackle on his opposite number. Ballina maintained the momentum and it was they who scored next to further stretch their lead. After some sustained pressure Ballina had a scrum outside Galwegians 22, on the left hand side of the field. Number 8 Aiden McNulty picked the ball from the base of the scrum and made a phenomenal drive for the line. Most had thought the Swinford man had got over the line but the refferee deemed he hadn’t, however Michael Murphy was at hand to pick up the ball and dive in low enough to cross the line (a distance of mere inches) and score his second try, again under the posts. Johnson added the conversion stretching his sides lead to 17-7. But if Ballina were in control of the game at this point, they failed to push on and capitalize further. Within minutes Galwegians were awarded a penalty in a duck which gave Burke kicked to touch them the foothold of a lineout inside Ballina’s 22.Mickey Murphy gets to grips with his opposite No They secured their throw in cleanly and set up a driving maul, and after a series of pick and go plays up front it was prop forward Doran McHugh who powered over for a try close to the posts. Burke’s conversion left his team just 3 points adrift 17-14. This remained the score until half time, and ultimately until the final whistle, but that doesn’t detract from a half which was rich in endeavour, and exciting and skilfull play. Ballina made use of their substitutes during the half, with Cory Brown coming on at out-half and David Bunker on the wing while up front John Keaveney came on at hooker and later Stephen Dolan in the second row. There was several highlights during the half for Ballina, such as Phillip Timoney winning crucial lineout ball on the opposition throw including on one occasion when the visitors had a lineout five metres from Ballina’s try line. The tackling of Alex Lee and Orrie Collins continued to be influential and important, particulary when Ballina were reduced to 14 men when Ciaran Melvin was sin-binned for knocking down a ball when a threatening Galwegians attack was in full flight. Markjoesph Healy and Aidan McNulty were very much on their game with both finding gaps and making good ground for their side and Michael Murphy demonstrated great athleticism when launching a garryowen and winning the aerial duel to field it again himself. Cory Brown orchestrated his side in attack and defense and gave them new vigor as they set about their task. This great effort was almost nulified when Ballina conceded a penalty in front of the posts between the 22 and 10 metre line minutes from the end of the game. Luckily for them the kick from Ronan Burke which would have drawn the game, was wide, and in the end Ballina did enough to hold out until Galwegians conceded a penalty and eventualy until the final whistle which followed shortly afterwards. It was a good return to winning ways for Ballina against a good side. Next Sunday Ballina host Loughrea in a league match, and will hope to continue in their winning form.
BALLINA; Conor Dever, Francis Conroy, Jerome Harrimate, Michael Allen, Tyrone De Silva, Sam Johnson, Michael Murphy (C), Ciaran Melvin, Richard Kelly, Alex Lee, Connor Forde, Mark Healy, Orrie Collins, Phillip Timoney, Aiden McNulty, John Keaveney, Henry Hewson, Stephen Dolan, Cory Brown, David Bunker.
GALWEGIANS; Andrew Fallon, Shane Thompson, Dave Stymes, Matt Dever, Dave Quill, Ronan Burke, Martin Connolly, Paul Griffin, Ger Fally (C), Doran McHugh, Eoin Tarmey, Spencer Perkins, Kris O’Shea, Matt Towey, Eddie Earle, Shane Connolly, Danny Deegan, Dan McArella, Martin Fox.
REFEREE; Joe Doyne.

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