Ballina got the scoreboard ticking after just nine minutes when outhalf Callum Quinn slotted a penalty kick. His opposite number, Sean Tobin had an opportunity off the tee shortly afterwards but when the ball blew off the kicking tee he was forced to take a hurried drop at goal, the attempt drifting well right of the posts. Quick hands by the Ballina backs saw winger Ciaran Rouse tearing up the sideline and as he ran out of space his deft chip infield found centre Michael Allen who gathered and dotted down under the posts, Quinn’s conversion extending Ballina’s lead to ten points after 20 minutes of play. Despite trailing, Westport enjoyed their fair share of possession in the first half an hour and outhalf Sean Tobin caused all manner of problems for the Ballina defence with searing linebreaks and offloads but Ballina’s defensive efforts kept them at bay and using the wind to great effect were able to ping Westport in their own half. With five minutes to go in the first half Ballina hammered the Westport defence and when Michael Allen linked with David Brunker the pacey winger stepped insde the covering tackle and score a try wide on the right. Quinn couldn’t add the extras but Ballnia were in a commanding 15-0 lead and were unlucky not to extend that lead, Quinn’s long range penalty attempt with the last kick of the half dropped just short of the posts.
Westport got the first of the second half points when after just three minutes winger Kevin Corcoran crashed over in the corner. Tobin missed the difficult conversion, but four minutes later was adding the extras to another Corcoran try after the sizable winger picked off an interception on the halfway line to run in under the posts bringing Westport to 12 points and trailing Ballina by just three. The Bulls were enjoying something of a resurgence and their scrum was starting to dominate giving Westport a decent platform deep in the Ballina half and when the Ballina scrum wilted under pressure Tobin slotted the penalty to level the game halfway through the second half. Ballina weren’t to be undone though and after some strong carries form Mickey Murphy, Callum Quinn and Chris O’Neill brought play deep into the Westport half. Quick recycling and hard lines of running paved the way for replacement Daniel Molloy to crash over for Ballina’s third try of the day and they held Westport at bay for the remainder of the half to claim an historic Heineken Junior Cup victory, winning by a score of 20 points to 15.
Westport:
1)Cormac Groden, 2) Joe O’Connor, 3) Mike Cronin, 4) Chris Ryan Capt, 5) Eddie Dunning, 6) Conor Hastings, 7) David Keane, 8) Liam Scahill, 9) Dylan Carpenter, 10) Sean Tobin, 11) Kevin Corcoran, 12) David O’Malley, 13) Brian Nevin, 14) Niall O’Malley, 15) Matt Dempsey Replacements: 16) Marek Palarmarzcuk, 17) Mike Ryder, 18) Kevin Gill, 19) Adam Bourke, 20) Eoin Joyce
Ballina:
1)Paul Newell, 2) John Keaveney, 3) Shane Clarke, 4) Conor Forde Capt, 5) Richard Morrow, 6) Fergal Tully, 7) Laurence Leonard, 8) Aidan McNulty, 9) Mickey Murphy, 10) Callum Quinn, 11) David Brunker, 12) Michael Allen, 13) Alex Corduff, 14) Ciaran Rouse, 15) Chris O’Neill Replacements 16) Conor Mason, 17) Richard Kelly, 18) Daniel Molloy, 19) Fionn Mulligan, 20) Darragh Whyte

 

Ballina’s full back Chris O’Neill tries to get past Westport’s Liam Scahill during the Connacht junior Cup final at the Sportsground in Galway. Pic Conor McKeown

Ballina’s full back Chris O’Neill tries to get past Westport’s Liam Scahill during the Connacht junior Cup final at the Sportsground in Galway.
Pic Conor McKeown

Final whistle Ballina’s players celebrate at fulltime after their 20-15 Connacht junior Cup win over Westport at the Sportsground Galway. Pic Conor McKeown

Final whistle Ballina’s players celebrate at fulltime after their 20-15 Connacht junior Cup win over Westport at the Sportsground Galway. Pic Conor McKeown

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