Last Saturday night, at the Connacht Branch’s awards night in the Galway Bay Hotel, Ballina Rugby Club’s talismanic scrum half and Captain Michael Murphy brought further honours to himself and his club when he was selected as Connacht Rugby’s Junior player of the year. The Murphy family has a long association with the club, Michael’s brother Declan also played 1st team rugby for Ballina and his father (also Michael) is a well known Ballina stalwart who captained the club during his time as a player, and later was a coach and served as President. In what has been a great season for the club this year, his son Michael captained Ballina to a very credible third place finish in the league; runners up in the Heiniken Connacht Junior Cup, and secured silverware by winning the Cawley Cup. In all of these campaigns Michael not only provided leadership on the field but produced exceptional performances which inspired his side, exemplified by his match winning try against Sligo in the Cawley Cup final. It was no surprise then that Michael is at the heart of the Connacht Juniors team which beat Ulster in Tuam, Leinster in Donnybrook and next Saturday take on Munster in the Sportsgrounds, Galway. Also in the Connacht team and putting in powerful performances are Ballina players’ tighthead Tom Tolan and No.8 Aiden McNulty. If Connacht prevails against Munster, and their form certainly indicates this is possible, it will be the first time the province wins the interprovincial series. It would be the perfect footnote to Michael Murphy’s season and the kind of form the Ballina number 9 is in, who would bet against his sides chances?
Ballina will also be very proud of Brian Moylette who was capped at U19 level for Ireland against France recently. Brian has played at underage level for his native Ballina and follows in the footsteps of his father Michael who was capped for Ireland in 1988, further proof of the strong family ties that are at the heart of this vibrant club. All on Moy side will continue to follow his rugby career with interest.   

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Michael Murphy being presented his Junior Player  of the Year Award by RugbyTech’s Jimmy Staunton

(C) www.sportingoccasions.ie – Johnathan Curran

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