Ballinasloe continued their winning ways with this bonus point win over Corrib in a re-arranged league fixture at Graigueawoneen on Saturday night.

Despite a 25pt win the home side did not have things all their own way against a Corrib side, though out of the running for any possible promotion, were not in town to make up the numbers. They were full of endeavour for a long stretch of this game but in the end succumbed to the greater strength and determination of the hosts.

Corrib made a bright opening, with the early exchanges taking place in the locals half. It took Ballinasloe over ten minutes to get into their opponents red zone and indeed their early forays were rather frenetic.

Hardly surprising then when Corrib went ahead after twenty six minutes when Evan Flynn kicked a penalty after Ballinasloe had been penalised for a high tackle but Kealan O’Neill equalised with a similar effort minutes later.

The visitors made the first big strike of the night in the thirty fourth minute.Forwards, Mairtin Lee and Daragh O’Connor combined to bring play close to the Ballinasloe line and when Corrib won their own scrum Cillian Bane cut a fine line through the home defence for the first touch down of the evening with Flynn adding the conversion.

Ballinasloe hit back promptly. Conor Loughrey initiated a Ballinasloe attack  that was finished off by John Hayes, with some help from his forward colleagues, for an equalising try that was converted by O’Neill to leave the sides level at the break.

Corrib were back in attack on the resumption and Flynn was off target with a kick at goal in the early minutes. This was the closest that the visitors came to scoring in the second half.

Ballinasloe went ahead in the 50th minute when Robert Ahern crossed for a try that went unconverted. Eight minutes later O’Neill made it 18pts to10 when he slotted a penalty to atone for an earlier effort that rebounded off the crossbar.

Corrib were still competitive but persisted with trying to run the ball out of defence, a tactic that was regularly smothered by the locals defence. Alternative approaches did not seem to be in their repertoire.

In the 64th minute Ballinasloe brought prop Tommy Dolan off the bench to freshen up the front row and it was not long before he was charging his way over the line for their third try. No swallow dive here but five points nevertheless from the durable forward. With O’Neill converting the home side had now gone out to 25-10 ahead.

Ballinasloe now sensed a bonus point was on the cards and cranked up the tempo accordingly. The noisy home following were not to be disappointed. In the 74th minute O’Neill kicked a penalty into the left hand corner at the road end. The throw in dart was accurate, the take was clean, the maul formed and drove menacingly forward before John Hayes claimed the try scoring honours. Thirty pts on the scoreboard but more was to follow.

In the final minute Benny Brophy made yards up the left wing before a smart punt ahead was gathered up by the chasing Hayes who with a man of the match performance touched down for his third try of the evening and Ballinasloe’s fifth. Though he may be wearing No8 on his back he plays more like an old fashioned open side flanker, popping up here, there and everywhere and mostly to telling effect.

At the final whistle Ballinasloe had moved into second place in the league, if only temporarily. With two games remaining things are getting very exciting.                                                                                Ballinasloe Team: M.Tierney, Cian Loughrey, R.Doolan, C.Johnston, M.Gibbons, K.O’Neill, Conor Loughrey, J.J.Carey, A.O’Hara(capt), K.Gavin, H.Reynolds, N.Staunton, R.Wakefield, J.Hayes, A.Doorley. Replacements:R.Ahern(for C.Johnston), T.Dolan(for J.J.Carey), M.Harrigan(for H.Reynolds), B.Brophy(for M.Gibbons), A.Wade(for A.O’Hara).                                                               LIAM COURTNEY                                                                                                                                                   PRO BALLINASLOE RFC                                                                                                                                                        


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