BALLINASLOE 6 V 15 BUCCANEERS

Ballinasloe and Buccaneers came face to face for the first time this season in the Junior League at Graigueawoneen on Sunday and in a fixture that is usually full of fiery intent and spicy endeavour the latest offering turned out to be a rather tame affair.

The visitors from over the road ran out 15pts to 6 winners yet Ballinasloe were in the game right up to the end but their failure to capitalise on chances that came their way meant that they took nothing from this match.  Overall, a younger and more mobile Buccs side just about deserved the spoils.

The tone for the afternoon was set early on with much of the action being played between the Ballinasloe twenty two metre line and the half way line. Buccs were earnestly trying to get some pattern into their game but could not break down a stubborn home defence where centre Conor Johnston was putting himself about before having to retire injured after twenty three minutes.

The impasse was brought to an end in the twenty fourth minutes when some concerted pressure close to the Ballinasloe line eventually saw Jason Connolly touch down for a Buccs try with the conversion being pulled across the goal.

The locals did not allow this to dent their confidence and Kealan O’Neill slotted a penalty for them in the twenty eighth minute before the action reverted to a somewhat lacklustre offering.                     

  With half time approaching, the hosts got the bit between their teeth and laid siege to the Buccs line. After pounding away and having the visitors defence at breaking point Ballinasloe were penalised for not binding at a close in scrum and the Shannonsiders were mightily relieved to be able to clear their lines. This was a fine cameo of the greater picture of the match. When Buccs were in a similar position earlier in the action they came away with a try while Ballinasloe came away with nought for their efforts.

Time for the oranges arrived with the score reading 3pts to 5 in favour of the visitors.

Ballinasloe dominated the early exchanges in a low key opening to the second half.  Just as one wondered where the next score was going to come from Buccs came up with the answer. A searing break from some loose play saw Deccie Byrne make his way past a somewhat bemused home defence before setting Brian Walsh up for try number two of the day in the fifty fifth minute with Glen Costelloe adding the extras.

Kealan O’Neill again reduced the deficit with his second penalty in the sixty first minute before being off target with a similar effort minutes later.

As the game entered its final stages Ballinasloe full back Matthew Tierney bravely took a high garryowen before conceding a penalty for not releasing after the tackle. Up stepped Costelloe to put his kick between the posts and nine points between the sides.

BALLINASLOE: M.Tierney, M.Gibbons (L.Feerick 60mins), C.Johnston (inj. D.Freeman 23mins), K.O’Neill,  R.Aherne, F.Sweeney, R. Doolan, J.J. Carey  ( D.Maguire 70mins), A.Wade ( A.Doorley 42mins ), T.Dolan, M.Harrigan, K.Dolan ( A.Loughrey 65mins), H.Reynolds, N.Staunton, A.O’Hara (capt).

Elsewhere, Ballinasloe had beter fortune at age grade level. The U13s had a big league win over Ballina at home, winning by 29pts to 5. They lead by 10pts to 5 at half time before piling on the points in the second half. The U15s also put in a big performance when winning their league fixture.

LIAM COURTNEY, PRO BALLINASLOE RFC.

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