Tense encounter in Ballinasloe

Ballinasloe 3 Creggs 5

Mark Hester’s superbly executed try with just eight minutes remaining proved decisive in Saturday’s Junior League game, played under lights in Ballinasloe. In last season’s fixture, Creggs ran up a big score but from the outset, it was obvious that this Noel Mannion-coached Ballinasloe outfit has become a more formidable team and so it proved over a tough and tense eighty minutes with little or nothing separating the sides. Ballinasloe enjoyed the advantage of a strong downfield wind during the first half, but chances were at a premium as both defences were well organised and the ball rarely got to the wings as play became bogged down in a congested midfield area. Mark Hester did make serious inroads on a few occasions, but Ballinasloe always seemed to get in a vital tackle to keep their line intact. Just before halftime, Creggs conceded a penalty about 35 metres out and Ballinasloe scored to turn around 3-0 but facing into the wind. Creggs struggled for possession during the third quarter, as the Ballinasloe pack began to dictate the pace of the game. They kept the ball tight, using their forwards to good effect at close quarters and bringing their backline more into play with some powerful running.
However, the Creggs defence held firm and gradually the forwards, led on by Mike Bligh, Kevin Brandon and Peter Comiskey in particular began to dominate as time was slipping away and still very few scoring opportunities being created by either side. With less than ten minutes remaining, Creggs finally got into their opponents ‘22’ and following good work by the pack, the ball was swept along the backline to Mark Hester, who used his power to burst through the cover for an invaluable try. Ballinasloe responded by piling on the pressure, but Creggs were not going to be denied in the final minutes. Creggs will be relieved to have come away from this game with a win, but there is still a lot of work to be done to get the team playing at its full potential.Tom Callaghan showed some lovely touches at outhalf, while Noel Flynn also worked hard at the base of the Creggs scrum. The threequarters defended while but were starved of possession for long periods, while Dave Flahive was solid at full back. Up front, Bligh was hugely influential, while Kieran Coyne, Tom Fleming, Pat Coffey, Ja Hughes and Killian O’Shea all worked hard in the forward battle. Creggs take a break from league action next weekend and will face Carrick at the Green in a fortnight.

Creggs: Dave Flahive, Bernard Kilcommons, Mark Hester, Conor Brandon, Tom Callaghan, Noel Flynn, Pat Coffey, Peter Comiskey, Mike Bligh, Tom Fleming, Kieran Coyne, Ja Hughes, Kevin Brandon, Killian O’Shea. Subs: Paul McNeill and Brendan Hester.

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