Connacht Junior League Div 1A

BALLINA         48

GALWEGIANS 3

(In Heffernan Park, Ballina)

In the difficult wet and greasy conditions which prevailed in Heffernan Park Ballina put in a very good performance last Sunday, scoring six trys in the course of securing a bonus point win over Galwegians. From the very start Ballina tested the visitors out wide. When Galwegians were penalised in the scrum five minutes into the game, the indirect penalty was taken quickly and immediately put through the hands as out half Cory Brown, centres Michael Allen and Jerome Harimate drew opponents and put full back Francis Conroy away. He in turn fed winger Robert Melody and who combined with Conroy again in a further exchange before Melody raced away down the wing showing great pace. It looked as if he was certain to score in the corner but a very good cover tackle by Galwegian winger Gary Fox robbed him of the ball as he crossed the line denying Ballina the opening score. In fact the first points were put on the board by the visitors after Ballina were penalised from a scrum in their half. Galwegians out half Darragh Leader stepped up take the kick from outside Ballina’s 22 just to the left of the posts and his well struck effort sailed over to give the Galway city men a 3-0 lead. Five minutes later the sides were level once more when a kick ahead from Cory Brown had Galwegian fullback Ronan Burke under pressure from the attentions of Ballina’s Francis Conroy and JeromeHartiman350winger William Beattie. A penalty was conceded in the ensuing ruck and Cory Brown was unerring with his kick to restore parity 3-3. Ballina maintained the pressure after the restart and continued to play the game in their opponents half. Very good throwing in from hooker Rodney O’Donnell ensured they were securing lineout ball with ease largely through Conor Forde. When Ballina scored their first try it was this combination that won the ball inside the visitors 22 and when scrum half Michael Murphy passed out to Cory Brown the number 10 cut through the defence before number 8 Aiden McNulty ran a great line onto Brown’s pass, hitting the space between the defenders and running in to score under the posts. Brown added the conversion giving Ballina a 10-3 lead. Ballina’s flanker Orrie Collins was having a great game and when he gathered the ball from the restart and set off on a powerful run making great yards before passing to Rodney O’Donnell who linked up with Cory Brown. The ball was passed back to O’Donnell who carried forward and took the ball into contact and setting up a ruck. The ball swiftly came back and was moved wide quickly before being kicked forward. The net result was a lineout to Ballina in their opponents half again as Galwegians cleared their lines under pressure. Connor Forde again secured possession and when he brought the ball down he turned quickly and drove forward. When the ball came back Brown found Orrie Collins on his shoulder who again ran into space and carried the ball forward before passing out to the supporting second row Conor Forde who had secured the original possession in the lineout and finished off the play by touching down for a score beside the posts. When Cory Brown added the conversion the score was 17-3 to Ballina. Galwegians attempted to get back into the game and out half Darragh Leader and full back Ronan Burke showed some great pace at times in broken play, but the home team’s defence, was well organised and resolute and held firm. Centres Michael Allen and Jerome Harimate were particularly uncompromising and one excellent tackle from Allen during this period lead to a penalty to Ballina in the ensuing ruck. It got Ballina back in Galwegians half and soon the Galway city men conceded another penalty at the breakdown which fell within Cory Brown’s range. He bisected the posts and this was to be the last act of the half so Ballina had a 20-3 lead at the break. Ballina brought on Alex Lee for Paul Newell in the front row, and Niall O’Malley for Robert Melody on the wing when play resumed. Five minutes later the front row was completely changed when prop and hooker David Rowe and Richard Kelly replaced Rodney O’Donnell and Ciaran Melvin. Galwegians tried to exert some pressure early on in the second half, and winger Ronan Moore showed some great pace and excellent footwork in one particular passage of counter attacking play, but in general they had difficulty breaching the Ballina defensive line and were often undone by a poor platform of possession to work from. When they failed to find their jumper in a lineout inside their own 22 it was Ballina’s number 8 Aiden McNulty who was alert enough to tap the ball back on Ballina’s side. Scrum half Murphy dealt well with the messy ball by dive passing it out to Cory Brown who chipped over his opponents with a deft little kick and won the race to touch the ball down over the line and score the first try of the half. He converted his own try stretching the lead to 27-3 in Ballina’s favour. Andrew Moynihan came on for centre Michael Allen, with Brown moving to centre and Moynihan to out half. In the next five minutes both sides conceded a lot of penalties undoing a lot of endeavour such as when hard working Ballina flanker Liam Lynch forced a turnover by knocking the ball from his opponents grasp with a tackle only for Ballina to concede a penalty in the ensuing scrum. Galwegians kicked to touch and in the lineout were penalised themselves handing possession and the initiative back to the opponents. It was Ballina who settled down first after this period of fractious play. From a lineout in Galwegian’s half they set up a good driving maul. Richard Kelly peeled off the back of the maul and drove forward well before going to ground. When the ball came back quickly from the ruck it was moved wide to full back Francis Conroy who cut through the Galway men’s defence before passing to winger William Beattie who showed good pace to race in and run under the posts for the try which secured the bonus point for Ballina. Cory Brown added the conversion so Ballina lead 34-3. Ballina were unrelenting now, and their attitude was exemplified by a tremendous tackle on Galwegians scrum half Martin Connolly from the side of a scrum by Orrie Collins which forced a turnover. Soon Ballina had possession right up to Galwegians line following a series of penalties as the pressure lead to indiscipline by the visitors. With swift hands and hard running by backs and forwards another try was inevitable and this time it was centre Jerome Harimate who was rewarded with his first try for Ballina when he proved unstoppable by the overstretched defence. Although from a difficult angle Brown made no mistake with the conversion giving his side a 41-3 lead. Ballina continued to press for another score and in similar fashion were rewarded with their sixth try just before full time, this time prop forward David Rowe was the one to crash over for the score after a series of phases of play and good hands by Ballina brought play up to the line again. Cory Brown’s conversion rounded off the score line 48-3 in his sides favour giving him a very impressive rate of 100 % successful kicks, getting eight kicks from eight on the day. It was the final act the game and Ballina will be very pleased with the way they went about their business on the day. The bonus point win will push them into second place and sets up what should be an engrossing encounter with league leaders Monivea when Ballina travel away to the Galway side next week. They will have to be at the top of their game to compete with Monivea who have dominated the junior league for so many years but if Ballina apply the same levels of concentration as they did last weekend they are well capable of raising their game to the necessary level.         

BALLINA; Francis Conroy, Robert Melody, Jerome Harimate, Michael Allen, William Beattie, Cory Brown, Michael Murphy (C), Ciaran Melvin, Rodney O’Donnell, Paul Newell, Connor Forde, Mark Healy, Liam Lynch, Orrie Collins, Aiden McNulty, Alex Lee, Richard Kelly, David Rowe, Andrew Moynihan, Niall O’Malley.

GALWEGIANS; Ronan Burke, Gary Fox, David Symes, Shane Thompstone, Ronan Moore, Darragh Leader, Martin Connolly, Jarlath Naughton, Paul Griffin, Martin Fox, Declan Hogan, Spencer Perkins, Niall Geraghty, Romi Davis, Sean Egan(C), Danny Deggan, Cian Hynes, Conor O’Rourke.

REFFEREE; Emmett Dormer.

Pic Corrine Beattie

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