Ballinasloe recorded their first league win of the season when overcoming a plucky Ballyhaunis side at Graigueawoneen on Sunday. After narrow defeats in their two opening fixtures, the home team were full value for their  11pts victory.

Played in ideal conditions, the locals settled quickly and took early advantage of a series of Ballyhaunis indiscretions with the sure footed Paddy Birch at no.10 landing two long distance penalties inside the opening ten minutes. His counterpart on the visitors side, JP Jefferies, spurned a chance to reduce the arrears when wide with a kick at goal from thirty metres in the thirteenth minute. Twenty minutes in and Birch was at it again hoofing over a monster penalty from close to the half way line to put his side 9pts ahead.

Still Ballyhaunis had notions of their own and scored the first try of the afternoon when big second row forward, Tony Gleeson, was helped over the try line by his surging pack. Ballinasloe did not hang around and their response was both immediate and scything. Working their way into the visitors’ twenty two metre area, centre Kealin O’Neill went over for a try with the conversion being missed. Not being content with this effort they were on the warpath again minutes later as lively full back, Matthew Tierney,  skipped his way along the left hand touchline for try number two with Birch adding the extras with yet another fine kick from the touchline.  The whitewash addiction was still not over and Ballyhaunis scored their second try courtesy of Seamus Horan in the thirty fifth minute with the conversion being pulled wide. Ballinasloe gathered around for the half time oranges 21pts to 10 to the good.

The second half was only eight minutes old when the locals made a hash of dealing with a well lofted garryowen. The Mayo side made ground with an ensuing old fashioned foot rush  and Mark Waldron was first to the ball over the try line to touch down for his side’s third try. Ballinasloe’s solid pack kept them on the front foot for most of the second period but the visitor’s eagerness  had them sniffling out chances which meant the locals had to be vigilant right to the finish. The guests efforts to poach something from this encounter were dealt a serious blow when one of their forwards was sin binned for over exuberance at a ruck in the sixty fifth minute. Ballinasloe took advantage of this extra man period and prompted by forceful replacement, John Hayes, they mauled their way over for try number three with the honours going  to lock forward Mark Harrigan and ten minutes left on the clock. The conversion attempt rebounded off the upright. The final minutes were a lively period with both sides seeking bonus points but neither reaped the reward.

BALLINASLOE: M.Tierney, M.Gibbons,  K.O’Neill, C.Johnston, C.Loughrey( F.Sweeney  52 mins), P.Birch, R.Doolan, J.J.Carey, A.O’Hara(capt), T.Dolan, M.Harrigan, D.Fenton, R.Wakefield( J.Hayes 38mins), N.Staunton, A.Doorley. Replacements: G.Donnellan, A.Wade, K.Dolan, J.Hayes, B.Brophy,F.Sweeney.

Ballinasloe’s  second xv have got their season under way with two league fixtures to date. First up was  Galweigans and a tough encounter ended level, 10pts each. This was an encouraging outcome for a young side but they came up short against an extremely strong Corinthians outfit at the week-end. Next up  is an outing against Ballina.

LIAM COURTNEY, PRO, BALLINASLOE RFC.                                                                                                                                                                          


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